Are tools the right focus for knowledge work?
All but the most basic tools require experimenting and learning how they work in your environment. Very few things work as advertised immediately. Jeff Anderson has some interesting thinking along these lines. We can't just push solutions at each other and expect them to work. He is focused on (IT) product development methodologies, but I think the thought applies more broadly to knowledge work and knowledge management as well. Here's his closing comment:
Despite all the work to date, the business of trying to get technology knowledge workers to raise their game is still way more of an art than a science. All of us change agents are operating in a highly uncertain market, time to start thinking like a startup, and collectively be open to pivoting a time or two before settling into our one right approach.
His whole discussion is a reminder that the methodologies and tools we use in our work are products - products that were designed or built or conceived to resolve a problem for the people that created them. The fact that they worked in those situations is great, but it is that context that sometimes gets lost in the excitement about the product. The hype suggests that it's the product that solved the problem.
We all know that problems get solved by people. The tools & methodologies give us new ways of thinking and seeing the situation, but without some kind of motivation, the likelihood that the product will help is minimal.
The recommendation? Look for useful tools and approaches, but be willing to experiment with what you find to fit it into your situation. Treat it as an experiment until you establish the fit that seems to make sense. And then as you spread the ideas, continue experimenting and improving how you do things.
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