Friday, July 3, 2009

Formal And Informal ...

My friend, Subash Thyagarajan recently shared an interesting diagram over at the K-Community site. I am posting this here, thanks to him ...

This picture gives quite an interesting representation of the various initiatives which together make up for KM. I agree that i dont quite understand some of the terms he has mentioned here, but even so ... This shows that knowledge sharing has to be a convergence of informal and formal means. For over a decade, we have been looking at the right part of the picture, which is about the sharing of content in terms of documents, or means of learning like formal training. The left part, on the other hand, refers to the informal means of learning which are emerging as the next set of tools available to the organization for knowledge sharing.
The important point, though, is that these are to converge into a single set of tools, driving the entire idea of knowledge sharing. Which means that conversations, for example, which, within the organizational context, revolve around topics, could bring into their fold documents, learning content, and other formal means of learning, and documents could be managed in a way that lends them to be leveraged more easily to conversations. This is something we are seeing. So today, there could be tag-clouds for documents, just as they are for blogs, and people could reference documents they have written, or read on their profiles.
This is a picture which i have in mind when it comes to social networking, within the organizational context. That all people in the organization have their own profile, and they should be able to connect with others based on topics, as well as based on documents, and formal means. So, for example, if you are interested in a particular topic, you might like to see who are the people who have attended the training on that topic which happened some time ago. Or, who are people who are writing documents, or reading documents on that topic from the corporate content repository.
While these are just examples (and i would look forward to more such examples from you to add to this picture), these do make a point, that the KM strategy of the organization must be inclusive to these varied forms of knowledge-sharing.


Suresh Nair said...

I still don't understand, why people talk/ write too much about KM. KM is something which has to be done (not talk/ write). Recently, we had a discussion about KM in our organisation - there about 30 odd people in three different teams who meet regularly weekly once to discuss how to go about it. Believe me, we have talked enough and did little.
I for one, strongly believe, that we should do things, especially those requiring huge investment, only after doing a needs assessment. Just making our top management buy-in the concept and making the company blindly invest is not right. In this case, it is money as well as time of the executives, which is a direct cost to the company.
Anybody aspiring to implement should go for no-budget initiatives to start with. Then if found useful, can go for big-budget programs. Technology has been a major enabler of KM. There are many open source softwares available, which are easy to install and work with.
Its true that if it is a no-budget program no body cares - but I am sure, once they realise the usefulness, acceptability will be more.

Atul said...

Suresh, i agree with you. But the thing is, while folks realize that Knowledge is an important ingredient to today's business scenario, not many would like to do much in order to harness this. Which is why, rather than being about technology, this has to be about people.

I quite agree with you also that an executive would not give go-ahead without ROI. But, this brings another question ... what is ROI? For example, i had written about this earlier ...

These are things which are still questions which are not answered.

Another question that comes to mind is how do organizations decide what is the value of experience? Another way to look at this could be, what if suddenly all the knowledge workers of an organziation upped and went, what would be the value of the organization?

Rather than looking at traditional ROI, we need to look for something rather different to describe something as intangible as knowledge.

Thanks for raising this ... glad a discussion could be begun on this!