Many different jobs, why one tool?
This topic is starting to feel familiar. At Thursday's monthly Boston KM Forum meeting, Gartner's Carol Rozwell spoke about Strategic Initiatives and Social Media in a discussion format. As usual with the KM Forum audience, the discussion ranged quite a bit.
One topic that came up a couple different ways the idea that companies have many different jobs - things that need to get done - so why is it that people expect one tool will be sufficient for all of them? This could be hardware or software - or even processes. Of course, some tools have multiples ways that they can be used, but we should be careful about force-fitting them where they won't help. Similarly, assuming success in one area of the business will translate to another, simply by copying tools is a recipe for disaster.
Carol described how she categorizes three broad stripes of work in the context of knowledge management. One task is to find facts or information. A second is the need to know how to do something that has likely been done before. And the third is how to handle completely new situations. Described this way, it is clear that "first generation" KM was focused on the finding (and codifying) facts and information task, even though this task is probably of the lowest value for organizations. Learning from previous engagements is also classic KM, but this is an example where simply having a repository of reports and slide decks isn't helpful. You need to connect people to people at the time of need. This is also higher value to organizations than simply finding documents and information. Finally, devising strategies to respond to new situations CANNOT rely on repositories: people must be able to find one another and discover options together.
[Photo: "The One Ring" by Generalnoir - Hard to resist the Tolkein reference]
Previous entry: Not all problems need the fancy tool
Next entry: Sharing Hidden Know-How - The Knowledge Jam