In the weeks leading up to this year’s Australian national itSMF conference on the Gold Coast (Aug 20-22), the itSMFA is holding a series of twitter chats with speakers who will be presenting at the conference. Last week was with Rob England, the IT Skeptic, chatting about governance. I was on last night to talk knowledge management. I know it’s hard to get a full picture in 140 characters, but there were several gold nuggets in there and even if just one person takes one of those and builds on it, then it’s been a useful exercise. Check out the curated Storify and you might just take something away, yourself.
I’ve been asked recently about metrics in knowledge management. Specifically, what are the things I like to measure. I do have a favourite. Diving down into the read count per topic or category and then looking further into what specific issues are being accessed most often can uncover potential improvements to products or services. Layers of complexity could be removed by redesigning the product or service for more intuitive use. Maybe the instructional documentation could be made clearer. Analysing metrics like these can help us improve our offering in a way that ultimately reduces the amount of support we need to provide. No wonder that’s my favourite.
I read an interesting post recently, by James Dellow, about the relationship of our physical work environments and our work habits. He points out that the availability of wifi has enabled the concept of activity based working (ABW). This is where an organisation provides no permanent desks for employees, but rather allows people to sit in project-based groups. The work environment is far more fluid and some organisations even provide fewer desks than staff, encouraging them to work from home. On the surface, that sounds pretty great. The business saves money, and the employees have the freedoms and flexibility they’ve been wishing for.
I was one of the guest speakers at a seminar on Thursday. The NSW branch of the itSMF held their first quarterly seminar for 2012 and the theme was Knowledge is Power. It was a terrific lineup and a full house. The Q&A panel, following the two presentations, yielded some great questions, many of which, I expected to hear. There was one, however, that I completely fudged my answer to, even though I was prepared for it—it’s the one obstacle knowledge wonks face all the time. I thought I’d take this opportunity to explain why I blew it and also to answer it again, in writing.
To paraphrase the question: aren’t we knowledge-managing our way out of a job; and therefore, shouldn’t I be anxious about sharing knowledge?
A knowledge base is only as good as the information it contains. I think incorrect, out-of-date, and confusing articles are more common than most people would like to admit. Stay flush with your knowledge base currency by regularly reviewing existing articles. If you notice anything wrong with an article while you’re busy doing or looking for something else, flag it when you see it, so you can review it when you have time. If you’re following KCS methodology, articles will be in draft—ready for review—before being published. Just like any good writer has an editor, it’s good quality control to have a peer review your article for inconsistencies, anyway, before pushing the
self-destruct publish button.
I’ve been nursing an addiction to LinkedIn groups—itSMF and knowledge management groups, in particular. One term that’s been coming up a lot is knowledge café. A knowledge café is a facilitated workshop, occurring in the workplace, that assists in a sort-of goal-oriented conversation. Conversations we could have at work with the intention of sharing knowledge and building on our professional relationships. David Gurteen is a well-known facilitator of knowledge cafés around the world.
The Information Age is bearing down on us. We’re carrying the burden of constant connection. Wireless internet, 3G, mobile devices, checking in where we’re going, checking out what others are doing, and that old dinosaur email—we’re all connected all the time. Life was smoother in the Stone Age once the wheel was invented. The greatest discovery of the Information Age won’t be targeted advertising, it’ll be whatever way we embrace the organisation of the information we choose to consume so that we can get back to it again quickly, when we need it.
I went to the most recent itSMFA seminar last week. Max Shanahan spoke about governance, while looking remarkably like Santa. At this time of year, it was hard to concentrate on governance, but I must have been paying enough attention. He proposed that the lack of well-recognised and accepted definition of governance is a sign of its immaturity.
I propose knowledge management suffers the same.
I put an informal poll out into the field, recently—that is, to my Twitter and Facebook followers—asking what the biggest issues are for knowledge management in their workplace.