Thursday, 28 November 2013

Personal Knowledge Management

It strikes me that for knowledge sharing to really work for us personally, we must make time to source, read, digest and ultimately use or learn from what we share and discover. Can knowledge managers convince others to make time to share and also absorb new knowledge, if we don't do it ourselves?

Sometimes I feel like I am sharing, sharing sharing; blogging, posting, saving, printing, bookmarking, sending all over the place, but seldom do I have time to go back to articles that I have favourited, bookmarked or printed and don't get me started on my KM book collection!! I regularly forward links and information that I have not read or digested myself, without comment other than 'fyi' or 'you may find this interesting'. The benefit in sharing information and knowledge comes from deep thinking and contemplation and in discussion, sharing viewpoints and learning from others.

Blogging provides a way for me to 'digest' and think about what I am reading, learning or practising. But it is difficult to find time and to allow myself this 'indulgence'. It is not easy to dedicate time on weekends and evenings to read work/study related information (out of Uni session) and it doesn't feel right reading at work, even though my employer would benefit greatly from my increased knowledge. I have colleagues who read about KM voraciously on their time to enable them to perform better in KM roles.

I have amassed a vast pile of paper articles, printed or cut out of magazines on knowledge management, information management and Intranets mainly over the last two years at work and through study, in addition to online articles saved on various computers and online services (Evernote, Google Drive, Delicious etc). I may have skimmed some of them, read a few (for Uni), but mainly they looked useful and were collected to read later.

This is the current pile of accumulated readings, I started sorting into categories and filing it (CoP, KMS, RM, Intranet etc) but it got a bit out of hand. This pile follows me to and from work occasionally as I attempt to 'conquer' it. 

Do you take time to read, research, digest and learn? Have you found a way to manage your personal knowledge management and continual learning? If so, how and when?

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Codification v personalisation KM strategies

I am studying knowledge management systems (KMS) this semester in my Masters in Knowledge Management. Some of the reading have provided great insight into KM and more importantly, in relation to my job as a knowledge manager. Some subjects are so theoretical or unrelated to my role or organisation that it is hard to gain much benefit from them.

I have just finished reading an article from HBR. The authors discuss two strategies for knowledge management; personalisation and codification, as ways of managing tacit knowledge. I agree that a lot of focus on KM is around IT and how to get people to use new systems and social media. This ignores "the very idea that human knowledge can be stored in, and its processing replicated by, software machines ignores three thousand years of philosophical inquiry into the nature of knowledge and what it means to ‘know’" Stapleton et al (2005). 

Hansen et al recommend the 80/20 rule when choosing a strategy. A 50/50 fix of both won't work and focusing on one or the other exclusively will also fail, the authors argue. A KM strategy based on personalisation; connecting people and promoting communication and collaboration also needs a level of documented knowledge in databases and a system to all people to find people. A strategy based on codification of knowledge also needs to promote some level of person to person communication. The article uses case studies to show how this has worked within consulting and manufacturing firms to great advantage.

HBR diagram
The authors highlight other success factors for KM as linking KM strategy to organisational strategy and direction and getting high level support. "Only strong leadership can provide the direction a company needs to choose, implement and overcome resistance to a new knowledge management strategy"  Hansen et al (1999). Nothing new there!

M.T. Hansen, N. Nohria, & T. Tierney (1999). What's your strategy for managing knowledge? Harvard Business Review. March-April, pp.106-116.

Stapleton, L., Smith, D. & Murphy F. (2005). Systems engineering methodologies, tacit knowledge and communities of practice. AI and Society. 16: 159-180.