Inside Knowledge Magazine /Knowledge Management Magazine Archive
Volume 13 Issue 7
So long, farewell… what do you know?
For the past few weeks it’s been difficult to pick up a newspaper or turn on the television without hearing about the
First and foremost I would like to extend a warm welcome to David Gurteen, who joins the Inside Knowledge Editorial Board this month. I honestly believe that this is something of a coup for the magazine and am very much looking forward to working with David and the other board members, as we build a bigger and better magazine for you, the subscribers.
As one person enters, another one leaves. As I type this letter, a co-worker is currently wading through the final bits and pieces of administration ahead of leaving the office for the last time. What is interesting to note is that, despite working closely with her for some time, I have spent much of today attempting to distil any useful bits of knowledge before she escapes.
Although we have spoken every single day and I have always been aware of the projects that she is working on, I still have no idea what she actually ‘knows’. Of course, an exit interview has been performed and numerous spreadsheets housing contacts, work in progress and other such details are all sat on the network. But, I have failed in my quest to pick her brains for the really juicy stuff – which could mean the difference between a dynamic piece of content, or something more turgid.
It’s funny how this situation seems to have crept up on me all of a sudden – and I’m sure it’s a dilemma that many of you will have faced at some point. For all the blogs, wikis, databases, intranets and expertise systems in the world, there are probably twice as many knowledge managers who find themselves scratching their heads and wondering what they have done wrong when a member of staff (and everything in their head) departs.
In a future issue of the magazine, Airbus will be providing an account of how it coped with the departure of one of its long-established experts, through a knowledge transfer programme spanning years. Hopefully I can pick up some lessons for the future.
On that note, elsewhere in this issue Chris Collison takes us ‘back to school’, with some insightful notes on lesson structure from none other than Mrs Collison – food for thought for those responsible for ‘lessons learned’ programmes within organisations (see page 5).
Jan Wyllie returns with the first in a two part series on information organisation (see page 18; and Ron Donaldson makes his IK debut (under my editorship) on page 26, with his column examining the blind pursuit of targets and measurement.
I hope that you enjoy this issue. As always I can be contacted at email@example.com..
Power to the people
The key challenges facing CIPD in making this transition were assessing and implementing the right underpinning ECM technology solutions, which would enable the practices necessary to achieve such aims. As Pevreall explains, An effective ECM infrastructure leverages a single repository of information to enable anyone across the organisation to search for content and improve collaboration between authors. To make this work effectively requires changes to content structure, authoring processes and collaborative workflow.
Cleaning up the chaos
There is no doubt that the amount of electronic data we have to deal with every day is growing. In fact a 2009 IDC study found that the digital universe is expected to double in size every 18 months and, by 2012, five times as much digital information will have been created compared to 2008. At the same time businesses have also faced increasing regulatory pressures requiring them to keep more data for longer periods of time. With over 16,000 regulations worldwide relating to corporate data retention and management, its no wonder that organisations are cautious about deleting anything. As a result, we are seeing companies buckling under the strain of handling huge amounts of data. And as the chaos builds, so does the pressure to regain control, get rid of the excess and set proper policies for handling information retention in the future.
Reasons to be cheerful
The recession has presented some unique challenges and opportunities for the practice of KM. Most companies, for instance, have bought into the idea that knowledge sharing supports business decision making. As a recent Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) report reveals (detailed later), nor has the recession significantly harmed this outlook among senior management. There are areas, however, where the recession may have caused conditions for KM to deteriorate, especially at the individual employee level.
(Not) in it for the money
Some time ago I was chatting to a knowledge manager and he told me that his organisation had a community of practice (COP) programme, which was not running well.
He asked how the organisation might incentivise the people who formed the communities as they were not engaged and were not turning up to meetings.
I asked why he thought that people needed motivating in this way. Indeed, it seemed that management was already trying to incentivise people by setting them up to compete with each other in a situation where the winning team would receive a trip abroad but it was not working.
When two worlds collide
Even after all these years I suspect that, like myself, many people still have lots of questions to ask about what Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0 and, of course, KM 2.0 are and what the 2.0 means. No doubt the terms are also afflicted by the universal curse faced by knowledge managers, which is that they are liable to mean different things to different people.
Fortunately, doubt and uncertainty are essential parts of the new world of knowledge, which is emerging through the combination of new virtual connection technologies and new, less ideological ways of thinking.
Roughly two years ago, I applied for a knowledge management (KM) position with an architectural firm that prided itself on creating sustainable, eco-friendly design solutions. During the interview I was asked about my experience working in a green environment. I hadnt had such an opportunity and I wondered if, for the purpose of KM, it really even mattered. I mean, off the top of my head, when I think of a green environment, I think about feng shuid workspaces featuring recycling bins, oxygenating plants, no-flush urinals, and fewer light fixtures in favour of lots of windows to bring in natural light. But green KM? Frankly, it sounded a little pretentious.