Free access to knowledge, or structured access to knowledge?
Here is another excellent article from Tom Davenport, one of the clearest writers on the topic of Knowledge Management, making the case for a structured “just-in-time” approach to the supply of knowledge.
Tom starts his article as follows:
In the half-century since Peter Drucker coined the term “knowledge workers,” their share of the workforce has steadily grown—and so has the range of technology tools aimed at boosting their productivity. Yet there’s little evidence that massive spending on personal computing, productivity software, knowledge-management systems, and much else has moved the needle. What’s more, a wide variety of recent research has begun suggesting that always-on, multitasking work environments are so distracting that they are sapping productivity.
He goes on to contrast two approaches to the provision of knowledge
- A “free access” approach where the organization provides free access to a wide variety of tools and information resources, assuming that the individual employees will do the selecting, prioritising and filtering and find the knowledge they need to conduct their work.
- A “structured” approach where knowledge is delivered in the context of tasks and delivereables, providing just in time knowledge at the point of need. In this case the prioritising has been done before the knowledge reaches the knowledge worker.
- One survey revealed that over a quarter of a typical knowledge worker’s time is spent searching for information.
- Another found that only 16 percent of the content within typical businesses is posted to locations where other workers can access it.
- Average knowledge workers access their e-mail more than 50 times, use instant messaging 77 times, and visit more than 40 Web sites a day.
- A UK study suggests that social-media use by knowledge workers costs British companies £6.5 billion a year in lost productivity.
It’s time to think about how to make [the knowledge workers] more productive by imposing a bit more structure. This combination of technology and structure, along with a bit of managerial discretion in applying them to knowledge work, may well produce a revolution in the jobs that cost and matter the most to contemporary organizations
Tags: knowledge seeking, knowledge sharing, strategy