We can and should make tacit knowledge explicit with collaboration technologies

Cross posted from scriptogr.am

KM Australia

Today, I’m part of a panel debate at KM Australia. I have 3-4 minutes to present my argument that we can and should make tacit knowledge explicit with collaboration technologies.

I’ll be using two images to explain my argument, both created by Dave Gray as part of his Connected Company series.

The problem of scale

The problem of scale

Think at the level of the street

Think at the level of the street

So, what’s the story behind picking these diagrams to make my argument?

More later…

Image credit: Dave Gray CC-BY


KM Australia this week

Cross posted from scriptogr.am.

I’m at KM Australia for the next few days – you can follow on Twitter, using the #kmaus hashtag.

Clearly, knowledge management isn’t dead. But the name of the event is actually a little misleading, as the agenda is broader than simply what most people would classically identify as ‘knowledge management’. It has a positively social business design flavour to it, with presentations such as Building social value in LEGO brick by brick with Lars Silberbauer, Head of Social Media at LEGO Group – you can read an interview with Silberbauer on April Allen’s blog. I also noticed that Helen Mitchell from KPMG is presenting, so I hope we might hear a little more about how KPMG is using tibbr to support its KM goals.

On day two I’m participating in a debate about making tacit knowledge explicit with collaborative technologies, with Aaron Everingham, Shawn Callahan and Dr Vincent Ribiere. Brad Hinton wrote a great post to help kick start the debate.

I’m also looking forward to hearing Felicity McNish from Woods Bagot present on mobile knowledge management. Wood Bagot was also a case study in my recently publised mobile apps report. Incidentally I wrote about mobile KM back in 2005 for IDM magazine in an article titled, In the Know and on the Move.

If you are attending KM Australia, please come say hello. Otherwise, I’m sure I’ll be tweeting and maybe blogging over the next few days from the conference.

BTW If your organisation uses or is interested in using Jive, there is a user group meeting in Sydney this Thursday afternoon (after the main conference days at KM Australia).

Kanban rather than KM

While studying Lean in general and Kanban in particular (and making the same bias as the KM evangelists, i.e establishing relationships that may not be relevant between two disciplines I’m passionate about) I’ve noticed this common trait with Social Software.

By making the flow of work visible through actionable information, these simple tools lower the level of water and allow to surface deeply hidden organisation problems. One of the most common reason Kanban projects are aborted is because while they surface these problems, people think Kanban is broken and cannot work in their organisation.

While making information flowing through simple and not prescriptive systems, Social Software is pretty similar to Kanban in that respect. So rather than asking how can we tweak Social Software to adapt it to our organisation, maybe we should ask how can we use these tools as reagents to surface organisations hidden problems. Put in another way : ask “how can we use it to discover unknown problems” rather than “what problem does it fix”.

This adoption question also brings us to the more general issue of the growing contrast between the pace at which new technologies emerge and the pace at which organisations adopt them, but this will be the subject of another post.

Like Cecil, I’ve also considered the relationship between social software and “lean“. I think enabling lean work processes is a fundamental reason for using social software in the enterprise.

Reframe your intranet: Focus on context

Reading this CMSWire article this morning, Reimagining the Intranet: Content in Context, I’m reminded of a presentation I made in 2007 on integrating Enterprise 2.0 into your corporate intranet. One of the slides I used was based on some academic research, published in 2001 that looked at the relationship between information and knowledge:


 I borrowed this concept from the paper, that discussed the idea of:

  • Information spaces;
  • Communications space;
  • Awareness space; and
  • Collaboration spaces.

For far too long traditional intranets have focused on communication and to an extent information. But I wouldn’t say content in context. I’d say its all about context – that part in the diagram where all four spaces meet.

And considering the impact that mobile is having on the enterprise, context is going to be more important than ever.

My panel discussion about KM on Sky News’ Technology Behind Business

Last week I was invited by Nigel Freitas to participate in a panel discussion about Knowledge Management (KM) for Sky News Australia’s Technology Behind Business show.

Technology Behind Business examines trends and analyses key IT concepts. Each week an expert panel focuses on one type of technology or strategy, explaining its use without the jargon, outlining the pros and cons and providing tips for all types of businesses. The panel in this episode included Felicity McNish from Woods Bagot and Gerhard Voster from Deloitte.

You can watch the entire panel discussion on the Sky News Website.

Cross posted from the Headshift | Dachis Group Asia Pacific blog.

If you are interested in this topic, I’ve written a reasonable amount about it over the years including a couple of book chapters and magazine articles – most of it accessible through my archive.

Of course, robust discussion on what KM is and if it failed is most welcome! πŸ˜‰