Saturday, February 12, 2011

Social Business Software and KM - Percolating

I do my best to leave work at the office and switch the brain to non-work related things when I close the office door.  Sometimes, though, work sticks to my brain. It's often a question or a set of questions that need to percolate for a while. The office isn't a very good place for reflection, so I tolerate reflection and percolation during off-hours.

Here are some of the questions currently percolating:

1. How to ensure a KM impact for social business software
If a social business software is introduced within the organization with the specific purpose of improving internal communications, how can I make sure that the implementation also supports knowledge management?

a.  I set up a KM community within the new platform and champion KM through that space, potentially replicating perceptions of KM as something the KM office does rather than something everybody should be doing (Big Foot approach).

b. I seed KM-related comments, suggestions, resources, etc.. throughout the various communities, turning myself into the annoying KM guru-wannabe who obviously has too much time on her hands.

c.  I make sure not to refer to anything I do as KM and I actively participate in relevant communities, modeling the behavior I'd want to see from all employees with regards to KM (super-stealth approach).

2. Competition between Tools / Too Much of a Good Thing?
If a social business software is introduced within the organization when another tool (a wiki) is on the rise, will there be competition between the two sets of tools and how do you prevent confusion regarding the purpose of each tool?

a. Yes, there will be confusion unless the differences are clearly explained and the two tools are presented as complementary rather than competing.

b. People are going to be reluctant to learn two new tools.  They'll insist on using one or the other because they already know how to use it, rather than pick the most appropriate tool for the task.

c. There's enough space for everyone to play in both playgrounds.  I'm worrying too much and it's a non-issue.

d. It will take so much time to deploy this social business software that everyone will have already developed their space in the wiki and there will be little demand for the new tool.

3. We need PKM too, don't we?
I strongly believe that most people in organizations could use a little Personal Knowledge Management before jumping into Organizational Knowledge Management, yet talking about PKM is even less likely to be well received than KM.  How do I push forward with what I strongly believe in?

a. Go to the KM boss (my boss) and suggest a PKM workshop or online course (yeah, right... I must have lost my mind for a second).

b. Build a PKM module on my personal page in the existing wiki and point people to it  (add a link in my email signature as a starting point).  Don't tell the boss, just do it.

c. Mention PKM in every single conversation until there's a buzz around the term and the top leadership decides we need one of those (just kidding!).

Related Resources
  • Some lessons about capacity building in social media for development organizations in the South, January 24, Lasagna and Chips (blog)
    There is a simple diagram in the post mentioned just above that struck me as on the spot and also reflects my perspective on KM.  With KM and with social media tools, you can't build anything at the organizational level until you have a critical mass of individuals interested (practicing personal knowledge management and using social media for their own individual benefit).
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Bassy said...

Personal knowledge management is something we do almost everyday but a lot of us seem not to recognize this. Also people are very much reluctant to share the knowledge they have and I think this can make one unable to grow their knowledge base because if other people get to know what you have they can add to that what you already have. Personal knowledge can either be tacit or explicit knowledge as long as that knowledge is in one's possession. People should always be willing to share what they have because it can benefit the organizations they work for.

Barbara Fillip said...

Well said. I'm come to think that it's a good idea to be a little strategic in terms of what to share. From an individual perspective, social business software is a new avenue for gaining visibility across the organization, but the individual should be aware of the image he/she is presenting to others on such tools.

I may know a lot about website development and I may be willing to share a lot about what I know in that domain, but if I don't want to be known as a website development expert (simply because that's not where I want my career to go), I'm going to make sure my organizational presence online doesn't focus entirely on website development.