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. 
Long-term readers of this blog will recognise these options as the “knowledge firehose and the knowledge faucet“, or will recognise the second as the lean knowledge supply chain. The first rapidly overwhelms the knowledge worker, the second efficiently provides the knowledge they need with no additional waste. 
However Davenport adds a nuance. He suggests that the free access approach may be valid among the autonomous knowledge workers with high levels of expertise, who can invest the time and energy needed to filter the firehose and draw out the selected nuggets which may make a subtle difference. 
The problem with providing free and unstructured knowledge to all knowledge workers is the associated productivity loss. Here are some of Davenport’ statistics.
  • 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.
Davenport contrasts this with the structured supply of knowledge using workflow technologies. Here productivity is the major gain – by providing people with the knowledge they need without them even having to look for it, task-based productivity can rise by 50%. The downside of these systems is the lack of a personal touch – the lack of the social component. 
However there is always a combined approach. Through Connect and Collect we can provide a push-based supply chain of explicit knowledge to the knowledge workers, linked to their task workflow (or prompt them to pull structured knowledge from a structured knowledge base) and in parallel allow them to pull unstructured tacit knowledge from a community of practice.  A Knowledge Management Strategy can be used to determine the balance between these two approaches for different knowledge topics. 
 Davenport concludes his article as follows:

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

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

How G2 got knowledge sharing to work

Here is a very interesting article from G2 about how they finally made knowledge sharing work, after failing twice.

The article, by Deirdre O’Donoghue, is a very interesting read. They tried to introduce structured knowledge sharing three times, and only succeeded at the third attempt.  What was different about that lucky Third Time?  Please note, the article is only about knowledge sharing, which as we know is just one component of Knowledge Management.

Firstly – what failed?

Lunch and Learns failed. 
I am not a great supporter of lunch and learns (see my article “Lunch and Learn? No thanks, I am trying to give it up“) and they did not work for G2. As Dierdre says,

“People wanted knowledge shares to be standardized – not random. They also didn’t like sacrificing their lunchtime for learning. Instead, employees wanted to see that G2 leadership valued knowledge sharing enough to take time out of the actual workday”.


Friday afternoon “sharing time” failed.

“A few of these sessions were successful because people came eager to learn and share. But Friday afternoon is a difficult time to focus, and everyone, including me, shifted focus from sharing work knowledge to sharing what their weekend plans were”.

Finally, what worked? 

The solution that worked for G2 was a regular schedule, within office hours, of  knowledge sharing sessions, and a site where the shared knowledge  (in the form of presentations) could be found and referred to later. According to Dierdre, this works because it is;
  • Consistent. A consistent timeslot, a consistent format, a consistent length of presentation. 
  • Relevant. “Ensure that you aren’t just trying to fill the knowledge share time. Instead, really focus on what would bring value to the team. “
  • Transparent. “After the presentation ends, the work doesn’t stop. Create a space using knowledge management software for employees to access the slides after the presentation. That way, if they need a refresher, they don’t have to wait on someone else for the information. They can easily click the link to re-learn pertinent knowledge”.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

How to select a methodology for a CoP event

You want to plan a face to face event for your Community of Practice in order to transfer knowledge, but which event style do you select?

This is a discussion I have been having recently, and it struck me that this might be a useful blog post.
Now there may be many reasons for a CoP event; to launch the CoP, to celebrate CoP achievement, or to agree on the CoP charter, work plan, objectives and knowledge focus areas. For these purposes you may use many styles of meeting – Open Space, World Cafe, Knowledge Market etc. 

However if we assume that the purpose of the CoP event is to transfer knowledge among the members on one or more topics of interest, then the primary driver of the choice of event style or methodology is driven by two factors:

  • The number of CoP members who have knowledge and experience on the topic (“knowledge holders”, and
  • The number of CoP members who actively need to acquire the knowledge (“knowledge needers”). These are not just “interested parties” – these are people who will apply the knowledge they gain to improve the way they work. 
  • Please note that many people can be both holders and needers – they hold some knowledge but need to acquire more. 
The crossplot of these two factors above is used to suggest some methodologies or styles of knowledge transfer meetings, all of which should be based on positive dialogue between the knowledge holders and knowledge needers. Also note that if your CoP meeting addresses many topics, then you may need many styles of meeting at the same event – either one after the other, or in parallel in separate spaces. How do you find out the topics, and the number of holders and seekers within the CoP? You either conduct a survey, do some knowledge mapping, analyse the questions in the community forum, or hold a Knowledge Market
If you have a relatively small number of knowledge holders and a large number of knowledge needers, then you can hold a lessons learned discussion. This requires active moderation, and should be driven by questions from the knowledge needers. The discussion will create reference content for the CoP. Alternatively, a storytelling session may be appropriate. Or if the knowledge is very polarised, with one or two experts and everyone else in the CoP novices, then a training session may be the best approach, but try to drive the training by the questions of the needers as much as possible.
If you have one or two people with experience in the topic and a moderate number of knowledge needers, then in some cases a knowledge site visit may be appropriate. Here the CoP meeting is held at the premises of one of the knowledge holders (a factory, or a working office) who can demonstrate the knowledge in application.

If you have many knowledge holders and many knowledge needers, then a knowledge exchange may be appropriate. Here the CoP members discuss the topic, and all its subtopics, exchanging experience, answering questions, and discussing and co-creating best practice. The process is driven by the questions of the knowledge needers, and is suitable when there are one or more areas of practice applied by most of the CoP members, but where approaches differ. This process can develop good practice reference documents for future use by the CoP. 
If there are a moderate number of knowledge needers, then you can run a Peer Assist to enable knowledge transfer to the needers. Generally the process adds value to others as well.

If there is a topic where there are a few holders and a few needers, it may be best not to make this the focus of a CoP event, but to create a small action learning group, which will report back to the CoP through the online portal, or through short briefings.

Finally if there is a new topic which the CoP wants to explore, but currently has no experts or knowledge holders, then a more open process such as Open Space or World Cafe/Knowledge cafe.

However if transfer of knowledge is your aim, use one of the processes above to ensure effective dialogue between the knowledge holders and the knowledge needers. 

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

How to select a methodology for a CoP event

You want to plan a face to face event for your Community of Practice in order to transfer knowledge, but which event style do you select?

This is a discussion I have been having recently, and it struck me that this might be a useful blog post.
Now there may be many reasons for a CoP event; to launch the CoP, to celebrate CoP achievement, or to agree on the CoP charter, work plan, objectives and knowledge focus areas. For these purposes you may use many styles of meeting – Open Space, World Cafe, Knowledge Market etc. 

However if we assume that the purpose of the CoP event is to transfer knowledge among the members on one or more topics of interest, then the primary driver of the choice of event style or methodology is driven by two factors:

  • The number of CoP members who have knowledge and experience on the topic (“knowledge holders”, and
  • The number of CoP members who actively need to acquire the knowledge (“knowledge needers”). These are not just “interested parties” – these are people who will apply the knowledge they gain to improve the way they work. 
  • Please note that many people can be both holders and needers – they hold some knowledge but need to acquire more. 
The crossplot of these two factors above is used to suggest some methodologies or styles of knowledge transfer meetings, all of which should be based on positive dialogue between the knowledge holders and knowledge needers. Also note that if your CoP meeting addresses many topics, then you may need many styles of meeting at the same event – either one after the other, or in parallel in separate spaces. How do you find out the topics, and the number of holders and seekers within the CoP? You either conduct a survey, do some knowledge mapping, analyse the questions in the community forum, or hold a Knowledge Market
If you have a relatively small number of knowledge holders and a large number of knowledge needers, then you can hold a lessons learned discussion. This requires active moderation, and should be driven by questions from the knowledge needers. The discussion will create reference content for the CoP. Alternatively, a storytelling session may be appropriate. Or if the knowledge is very polarised, with one or two experts and everyone else in the CoP novices, then a training session may be the best approach, but try to drive the training by the questions of the needers as much as possible.
If you have one or two people with experience in the topic and a moderate number of knowledge needers, then in some cases a knowledge site visit may be appropriate. Here the CoP meeting is held at the premises of one of the knowledge holders (a factory, or a working office) who can demonstrate the knowledge in application.

If you have many knowledge holders and many knowledge needers, then a knowledge exchange may be appropriate. Here the CoP members discuss the topic, and all its subtopics, exchanging experience, answering questions, and discussing and co-creating best practice. The process is driven by the questions of the knowledge needers, and is suitable when there are one or more areas of practice applied by most of the CoP members, but where approaches differ. This process can develop good practice reference documents for future use by the CoP. 
If there are a moderate number of knowledge needers, then you can run a Peer Assist to enable knowledge transfer to the needers. Generally the process adds value to others as well.

If there is a topic where there are a few holders and a few needers, it may be best not to make this the focus of a CoP event, but to create a small action learning group, which will report back to the CoP through the online portal, or through short briefings.

Finally if there is a new topic which the CoP wants to explore, but currently has no experts or knowledge holders, then a more open process such as Open Space or World Cafe/Knowledge cafe.

However if transfer of knowledge is your aim, use one of the processes above to ensure effective dialogue between the knowledge holders and the knowledge needers. 

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

The fantastic example knowledge resource that is Radiopaedia

This reprised blog post is a reminder of that amazing example of free and open knowledge sharing that is Radiopaedia

X-ray published in ABC news, taken from Radiopaedia 

As described in this fascinating article,   Radiopaedia is an online wiki where Radiologists all over the globe share online X-rays that are interesting, unusual, or demonstrate particular aspects of patient cases that others might learn from. When I was a geologist, there was a saying that “the best geologist was the one what had seen the most rocks”. Presumably the best radiologists are the ones that have seen the most X-rays, but no single radiologist can possible have seen a X-ray of every type of condition.

But now they can, thanks to this shared knowledge resource.

Radiopaedia was started in 2005 by Dr Frank Gaillard, as a way of storing online his digital radiographic images. Dr Gaillard had the inspiration to make this store an open resource, and in 2007 made it accessible to other radiologists. By 2015 Radiopedia had

  •  7 million hits a month 
  • 2 million unique users 
  • users in every country in the world 
  • more than 10,600 Twitter followers
  • 17,660 cases sorted into 7,636 articles. 

The vision of Radiopaedia is

“to create the best possible radiology reference and teaching site and make it available to everyone, for ever, for free….. By pooling our collective knowledge and experience we can make a real difference in how people all over the world are imaged and diagnosed”.

The letters of thanks from radiologists all round the world show how useful this resource is in supporting correct diagnosis and thus saving lives.

So what can we learn from this?

I think the primary lesson is that a simple technology solution which serves a knowledge need for a large user base can grow quickly and organically. The barrier to entry is low, and the benefit for users is very high.

Secondly, the starting point for this was one person choosing to open his personal collection to the public. Despite the well-known behaviour of knowledge hoarding, Dr Galliard’s decision to open his knowledge base not just resulted in value to other radiologists; he himself benefited from the massive outpouring of knowledge sharing.

The value is particularly great for radiologists, in that many of them work as lone specialists. A global community provides them with a very welcome link to other practitioners.

Also radiologists are visual workers. Their chief tool is images. The more images they can see, the greater their knowledge base. The best radiologist is the one who has seen the most Xrays.  A wiki is an ideal way to share visual imagery, and to make tens of thousands of Xrays available to view.

Also the wiki is not a standalone, but part of a KM Framework. This includes

For those of you working in knowledge management, this case history provides a model for how you can connect a large community of lone practitioners, for whom a shared library of images is a massively useful resources.

Are there lone practitioners like this in your company? If so, then Radiopaedia may give you some pointers in how to build a system to support them.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Do social media stifle knowledge sharing?

Do online social media drive a “spiral of silence” which can stifle proper debate?  It can, according to this techcrunch article, which points to this survey from Pew Research.

shhh
Shhh by Catherine on Flickr
I think everyone would agree that for knowledge to be shared effectively in organisations, people need to feel free to enter online debates and feel free to disagree with the opinions of others. Knowledge often comes through comparing and challenging conflicting “truths” in order that new truths and new knowledge can be born.
However the nature of online social media is such that we often create our own silos, and when addressing potentially contentious topics, are unwilling to discuss ideas which the rest of the group does not share (a structure called “polarised crowds” by this article, which I also explore in this blog post on groupthink in social media).  This has been referred to as “a spiral of silence” where people with dissenting views remain quiet.
The Pew Research survey explored the willingness to debate online by choosing a contentious topic (in this case the topic of government surveillance) and exploring how openly people would be willing to discuss this in various settings.

As shown below, social media are at the bottom of the list, and people are nearly 4 times less willing to share their thoughts openly online than they are round the dinner table.

The study has the following conclusions

Overall, the findings indicate that in the (government surveillance) case, social media did not provide new forums for those who might otherwise remain silent to express their opinions and debate issues. Further, if people thought their friends and followers in social media disagreed with them, they were less likely to say they would state their views on the story online and in other contexts, such as gatherings of friends, neighbors, or co-workers. This suggests a spiral of silence might spill over from online contexts to in-person contexts, though our data cannot definitively demonstrate this causation. .

Does this spiral of silence apply in workplace social media?

I have seen this happen in the work setting, as in the example below.

A new community of practice for project managers was launched in an organisation. Over a couple of months, activity started to pick up nicely in the community forum, with many people asking questions and receiving answers. However when we followed up with the originators of the questions, we found an interesting pattern had developed. The first answer to the question set the tone, and from that point the only people contributing to the thread were those who agreed with the first answer. Anyone who disagreed found a private offline way to contact the questioner, such as a phone call or a personal email.

We were able over time to resolve this behaviour through strong facilitation, and the community now works well in publicly exploring multiple views on all topics.

For those of us seeking to foster knowledge sharing within an organisation, the research study quoted above is very important. If we do not address this tendency towards a spiral of silence, our in-house social media will either create a new set of silos – silos divided by opinions rather than by geography or by organisational hierarchy (the “polarised crowds” mentioned above) – or people with contrary opinions will just drop out of the conversation.

The lessons to the Knowledge Manager are clear

 To start with, we cannot afford plural communities of practice covering the same topic. There needs to be one community covering each main work topic, not two or more polarised ones.

Then within each topic, disagreement needs to be sought and explored, in service of finding the truth. This is part of the role of the community facilitator – the role of allowing a diversity of opinion, and promoting and facilitating the dialogue that allows this diversity to be explored and resolved.

Finally, for the really contentious topics, you need a face to face discussion, such as a Knowledge Exchange.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

To share more knowledge, build bigger tribes

We are built to share knowledge within our tribes. To improve knowledge sharing, build bigger tribes.

Papua New Guinea - True North - Sepik
Papua New Guinea – True North –
on Flickr – source/credit: North Star Cruises.
Photograph by David Kirkland.
 Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

As humans, we have  always had the ability, through language to share what we know. It’s just that, very often, we don’t want to. share with everyone. Sometimes we would rather keep knowledge “within the tribe.”

In New Scientist December 2012, Mark Pagel, the author of  “Wired for Culture: Origins of the Human Social Mind” wrote an article called “The War of Words” in which he argued that languages evolved in order to keep different tribes separate, just as much as to allow communication within the tribes.

He points out that that the greatest diversity of human societies and languages (and there are over 7000 languages on the planet) arises not where people are most spread out, but where they are most closely packed together. Papua New Guinea is a classic case. That relatively small land mass – only slightly larger than California – is home to between 800 and 1000 distinct languages, or around 15 per cent of all languages spoken on the planet. A different language is spoken every few kilometres, and Pagel suggests that these have evolved to keep the different tribes distinct, separate and competing. He says

“In support of this idea, I have found anthropological accounts of tribes deciding to change their language, with immediate effect, for no other reason than to distinguish themselves from neighbouring groups. For example, a group of Selepet speakers in Papua New Guinea changed its word for “no” from bia to bune to be distinct from other Selepet speakers in a nearby village. Another group reversed all its masculine and feminine nouns – the word for he became she, man became woman, mother became father, and so on. One can only sympathise with anyone who had been away hunting for a few days when the changes occurred”.

The two features that drive this are, according to Pagel “groupishness” – affiliating with people with whom you share a distinct identity – and xenophobia, demonising those outside your group and holding parochial views towards them.

So language and knowledge sharing are linked, and both language and knowledge sharing are very much kept “within the tribe”.  Sharing knowledge with other tribes is an unnatural act; something languages have evolved to deter.

We can recognise the same effects of groupishness and xenophobia at work. Organisational boundaries create teams and silos, they create groupishness, and they create “us and them” feelings, which may be reinforced by internal competition.  Knowledge sharing happens within the silos, but seldom between them.

So what can we, as KMers, do about this?

We need to create new tribes.

This is the idea behind Communities of practice – that we can build a new organisational structure along knowledge lines, that cross-cuts the existing silos. By creating these new tribes, we create a feeling of groupishness and a sense of identity which align with the needs for knowledge sharing. One community leader I know calls this “dual identification” – identification with the business silo, but also identification with the community of practice.

We need to create new vocabulary.

This is particularly important after a merger, when terminologies between the merged organisations will be different. Without finding a common terminology, the old divisions remain, reinforcing old groupings. I have argued before that a Community of Practice is united by a common jargon and where multiple jargons exist, you need to lead the attempt to merge them.

I read an article recently about how a national rugby team can be created from individuals from different and rival clubs – a process of creating groupishness from a selection of xenophobic competitors – and the first step was to create a common vocabulary for the patterns and techniques they would encounter on the field of play. To create a common group, they needed a common vocabulary.

We need to remove the influences that keep us most separate. 

The most pernicious of these influences is institutionalised internal competition; reinforced by awards like “factory of the month”, “salesman of the year” and so on.  Anything that separates and divides, creating us (winners) and them (losers) will kill Knowledge Management stone dead and must be removed and replaced with awards that unite.  “Us” needs to be the company (plus key allies, stakeholders and supply chain) and “them” needs to be the competition – and then only where you are in a competitive context.

Create new tribes, create shared language, create shared groupishness, keep the xenophobia for the competition, and then Knowledge sharing will follow.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Forget knowledge sharing, let’s encourage knowledge seeking instead

People often ask us “how do we incentivise  knowledge sharing?” I often answer “don’t bother. Incentivise knowledge seeking and re-use instead”.

I give this answer, because knowledge sharing in itself achieves nothing. Knowledge needs to be sought and re-used before any value has been added, and re-use is often a far bigger barrier than knowledge sharing. The Not Invented Here syndrome is far more prevalent than Knowledge Hoarding.

As an analogue, think of a driver in a car in a strange city, looking for a building which is not on the satnav.  They need knowledge, people on the sidewalk have the knowledge, but why doesn’t the knowledge reach the driver? It’s usually not because people won’t share, but because the driver doesn’t ask.

Knowledge needs supply and demand – sharing is the supply, seeking and re-use is the demand. Supply without demand devalues a commodity. Demand without supply increases a commodities value. Supply and demand need to be in balance, but the best way to kick off a market is to stimulate demand. 

Without an appetite for knowledge re-use, knowledge sharing can actually be counter-productive, resulting in the feeling of the “knowledge firehose”.  Better to incentivise knowledge seeking first then knowledge sharing later, create the appetite for knowledge before you create the access, and create the demand before you create the supply.

There will naturally be SOME supply already, as there are people who naturally like to publish. They like to share, they like to write, they were given two ears, one mouth and ten fingers and use them in that proportion.  If you create the demand and create the channel, the supply will follow. As David Snowden pointed out,

“In the context of real need few people will withhold their knowledge. A genuine request for help is not often refused unless there is literally no time or a previous history of distrust. On the other hand ask people to codify all that they know in advance of a contextual enquiry and it will be refused (in practice its impossible anyway). Linking and connecting people is more important than storing their artifacts”.

Create the need, connect the people, and the sharing will follow.

And how do you create the need for knowledge?  There are a number of ways;

So don’t incentivise knowledge sharing – incentivise knowledge seeking first. The sharing will follow.

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

Why transferring knowledge through discussion is over 10 times more effective than written documents

Connecting people is far less efficient than Collecting while being far more effective – but how much more effective?

Knowledge can be transferred in two ways – by Connecting people so that they can discuss, and Collecting knowledge in written (explicit) form so others can find and read it (see blog posts on Connect and Collect). 

Connecting people is less efficient than transferring documented knowledge, but more effective.  We can never be sure about the absolute effectiveness of knowledge transfer without some good empirical studies, but there are 2 pointers towards the relative effectiveness of these two methods. These pointers are as follows;

First, the often repeated (and sometimes challenged) quote that “We Learn . .

  • 10% of what we read 
  • 20% of what we hear 
  • 30% of what we see 
  • 50% of what we see and hear 
  • 70% of what we discuss 
  • 80% of what we experience 
  • 95% of what we teach others.”

This is similar to Media Richness theory, which ranks media on the basis of it’s richness, with unaddressed documents as least rich, and face-to-face as most rich.

Second, David Snowden’s principle that

  • We always know more than we can say, and 
  • We will always say more than we can write down
Our assumptions
Let’s make two assumptions here, firstly that the percentages in the first list are correct, and secondly that we equate the “more than” in Snowden’s principle to “twice as much as.” OK, the fist assumption is highly dubious and the second is entirely arbitrary, but I want to see what the consequences are.

With these assumptions, the effectiveness of the Connect route (knowledge transfer through discussion) is as follows
  • I know (100%)
  • I say (50%) 
  • You learn through discussion (70%)
The effectiveness of transmission of knowledge through Connecting is therefore 35% (100% x 50% x 70%) provided there is discussion involved.

If you connect people through video (seeing) the effectiveness drops to 15%. Through hearing only (eg podcasts) it drops to 10%. The most effective way to transfer knowledge would be to work together, so the knowledge donor does not need to tell or write, they just have to show, while the knowledge receiver learns by experience. That way you minimise the filters.

The effectiveness of the Collect route for knowledge transfer through documents is as follows
  • I know (100%)
  • I write (50% x 50% = 25%)
  • You learn through reading (10%)
The effectiveness of transmission of knowledge through Connecting is therefore 2.5% (100% x 25% x 10%)
Transfer through discussion is 35% effective, transfer through documents is 2.5% effective. In the first case you can transfer a third of what you know, and in the second case you transfer one fortieth.

Therefore transferring knowledge through Collecting is 14 times less effective than transferring knowledge through Connecting people.

If we change the proportions in Snowden’s principle then we change this conclusion. If for example 

we always know 3 times more than we can say, and we will always say 3 times more than we can write down, Collecting becomes 21 times less effective, and so on.

I know all these figures are arbitrary and inexact, but what we are looking at here is some sort of estimate of relative efficiencies.

Note that this does not mean that Collecting knowledge has no place in Knowledge Management – quite the opposite. Despite being very ineffective, it is very efficient. Knowledge has only to be documented once, to be re-used one thousand times. Efficiency can trump effectiveness. However we can conclude the following
  • Because of these relative efficiencies, Knowledge should shared in explicit form (the Collect route) only when it is relatively simple and when it can be codified with minimum loss of context. 
  • Where efficiency is more important than effectiveness (i.e. broadcasting relatively straightforward knowledge to a large number of users), the Collect route is ideal.
  • The Collect route is also necessary when a Learner (a recipient for the knowledge) cannot be immediately identified, so no Connection is possible (see “speaking to the unknown user“).
  • Even then, it is worth “keeping the names with the knowledge” so that readers who need to know more detail can call the originator of the knowledge and have a discussion.
  • Where knowledge is more complex or more contextual, it should be shared through discussion (the Connect route) – for example through conversational processes such as Peer Assist.

Given that transfer of knowledge through documents is so ineffective, choose your KM strategy carefully!

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.

The two chambers of the KM heart

The heart of KM keeps knowledge flowing, and that heart has two chambers. 

Image from wikipedia

You can think of the organisation as a body, and knowledge flowing round the organisation like blood flows round a body.  But what is at the heart of KM? Is it knowledge sharing? Is it communities of practice? Is it knowledge creation?

The answer is that if there is a heart, it is not a single thing, but two chambers working together.  The two chambers are our old friends Connection and Collection; the Connect and Collect routes for knowledge transmission through Conversation and Content respectively. 

Connection

Connection refers to connecting people so that they can share knowledge between them; through discussion and conversation. 

Collection 

Collection supports knowledge transfer through collecting documented knowledge, synthesising it, sharing it and making it findable.

  • In the Collect route, Knowledge is transferred through documentation (“Knowledge capture”), through organisation and synthesis of that documentation, and through connecting the user with the documents, through search or through push.
  • It can be supported by processes such as Retrospect, Lesson Learning, Interview, creation of Knowledge Assets, and Knowledge Synthesis. 
  • It can be supported by technologies such as portals, lessons management systems, search, semantic search, blogs and wikis

You Need both routes!

In the past, Connect and Collect have been positioned as opposites, for example in the rival Personalisation vs Codification strategies described by HBR.

However they are not opposites; they are two sides of the same heart.  The two different approaches address different sorts of knowledge, both of which exist in your organisation. 

  • The Collect route is ideal for relatively simple non-contextual knowledge which needs to reach a large audience, for knowledge that needs shelf life, for knowledge where no immediate user is available, and for knowledge which needs compiling and processing (such as lessons). 
  • The Connect route is necessary for complex knowledge, advanced knowledge, deep skills, and highly contextual knowledge. 
  • Collection without connection results in bland knowledge bases which answer basic questions, but often lack nuance and context.
  • Connection without collection preserves no corporate memory, and runs the risk of overloading the experts with basic questions, and of loss of knowledge as the experts retire.
In reality, the two chambers of the heart work together. 
People can unite around collections of knowledge, connected people can collect what they collectively know. Conversation is where content is born, and content is something to talk about. In combination, both Connect and Collect drive the engine that makes knowledge flow. 

Keep the two chambers of Connection and Collection at the heart of your Knowledge Management strategy  if you want to succeed!

View Original Source (nickmilton.com) Here.