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May 14, 2006


David Locke

Step one would be making people care about corporate memory, making them look. If you think about what is happening in the real world politics of the U.S., it should be clear that nobody really cares about looking back. They want to assert a truth.

Asserting truth is contrary to fostering knowledge in corporations today, but it is what b-schools and economists teach. The higest paid generalist can make a better decision than an expert seeped in history and knowledge. KM is pushing uphill against this.

Busting silos; power as in needing an executive sponsor, so one side wins and everybody loses; insisting, still, long after the software economics of the 60's, that developer efficency is a meaningful thing that trumps enterprise-wide operational efficency, all add up to history and knowledge not mattering.

Sell KM all you want. Knowledge and history are not being managed. They are being thrown away.


You can't manage what you can't describe!

David Locke

The notion that you can capture your employee's knowledge was an idea that died an ugly death in the early eighties along with AI. Don't try to capture this knowledge, particularly since employees know that their employers are just going to screw them over anyway the next time sales can't sell. An employee would be nuts to give up their knowledge for a job at a particular employer. And, the employer doesn't use their employee's minds anyway.

David Locke

The answer to your documentation issue is to look at RFID. With RFID the tag becomes the thing itself, so there is no gap between the real and the digital. Consider documentation to have a wide gap between the real and the captured. This is the gap that you need to overcome.

The documentation is in the process of constructing the reality. The documentation, once it is put into a database, becomes metadata, and metadata isn't intrinsic. Try to document intrinsicly. Before relational databases, representations were built and used instead. The relational database is great, but a table is a table.

Construct the decision, then collect data and make the decision. Try to capture all that construction in some permanent representation, preferably an object.

Carol H Tucker

this is a basic org dev conundrum, neh?

IMNSHO, what you need are established processes and procedures with managers who circle back and verify their direct reports are following up. At this point in time, you need to translate all of that KSA into documentation that can convey it into the future


I find it hard to believe that this is a technology problem. I wasn't quite sure what to say, since you have been such a vocal part of the knowledge management community.

But then I came across this in my aggregator from ITToolBox's KM Pragmatics: The Collective - Will & Commitment (note site isn't loading for me)

We can have the greatest process ever created; the most fantastic proven method; the greatest technology at our fingertips; the very BEST of the very BEST of Best Practices; but all of that is for naught if our behavior (individual & organizational) falls short. In the end, it is completely and solely about Will & Commitment.

So, Denham, what do the people think about Zipp and the interesting technical capabilities on tap? How do these tools align with the goals of the organization?


My comment earlier triggered a longer answer.


You say you've tried a number of things, but *how* have you tried them? How did they fail?

One thing that works in those places I work is to cut down on the number of tools that helps you out, even if that means cutting down on the whistles and bells you think you need.

In one place *everything* was enforced within the same Wiki, calendars, meetings, profiles, documentation, you name it; it worked quite well because there was only one way in and you knew the info you were after was in there.

The tricky part of "all Wiki" is calendaring, but some Wiki's out there have solutions even to that.

Harold Jarche

I'd use a system like elgg.net (YASNS, blog, portfolio, calendar in one), that doesn't have any imposed hierarchy, tweak it a bit, and use it for the company intranet. When someone leaves, keep their blogs & posts as read-only.

The tag cloud feature, and automatic hyperlinks of terms (so that you can find the one other person in the organisation who has mentioned "rutabagas") set elgg apart. I've found it to be better than almost any other formal KM system, especially if you're working with a group of independent contributors, who don'r mind blogging as a form of sharing and communicating.

Mike Riversdale

I'm sure there are some things that are working (your company might be experiencing speed wobbles but it's not going down the pan ... I hope).

Try and find what people are doing to get around the issues, what is working for some and guide others to those techniques. These might be non-ICT related but are equally as valid.

It might also be a cultural shift from, "When were smaller I knew everything" to, "Now we're bigger I have to be more selective" - that might take the old-hands a little time to get used to.

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