Let me get this straight: Companies implement knowledge management
systems such as document repositories, blogs and wikis, so they can capture and
manage employee knowledge, right?
I get the goal, believe it
is crucial to succeed in our knowledge economy, but are employees capturing and
managing their own knowledge? Seems to
me that we need to have that in place first.
The knowledge of most
people, myself included, is scattered across paper piles, computer files and
brain cells. It’s on desk surfaces, in
file cabinets, on sticky notes and yellow pads.
It’s buried deep within multi-level file folders on multiple systems –
some local, some cloud, increasingly on numerous devices. It is in bookmarks, email attachments, Evernote
and a growing host of other apps. The
reality is that our facts, findings, ideas, IP, questions and conclusions are scattered
And now the company wants us
to create something for the corporate repository, blog or wiki. Presumably not the scattered mess described
above, but some bottom-line synthesis of what we know on key topics that is
accessible and useable.
I don’t have that for
myself, do you? This is a prefatory
problem that needs to be addressed. This
isn’t just a matter of contributing what we already have. I could contribute my entire hard drive and
it would be of no value, I can barely find stuff there. This is a synthesis request/need.
I use a formula to explain
knowledge management failure, call it Burge’s law:
Repositories, blogs, wikis
all have miserably low participation rates because companies fail to appreciate
the dynamics of this equation.
Synthesizing knowledge into a bottom-line format that others will find
useful is really hard, if it was easy we’d do it for ourselves more often.
Plugging starbucks cards
or gamification techniques into numerator above is not going to move the needle. It’s certainly not going to generate the rich
knowledge from smart people we seek.
Corporations are not going
to effectively capture and manage employee knowledge until employees can
effectively capture and manage their own knowledge.
What do you think?