Blogs and Forums, Short Shelf Life of Information, KM Reality Award, KM in Modern Organizations

06-Nov-07 Archive of Weekly KM Blog by Stan Garfield

KM Question of the Week

Q: Can you explain the difference between a blog and a forum?

A: A blog is a one-to-many form of communication, usually read by visiting the web site or through an RSS feed reader. It is well-suited to supporting personal expression, news updates, personal note taking or journal writing, links between the blogs of multiple bloggers, and comments from blog readers.

A forum is threaded discussion, also known as a bulletin board or listserv, which is a many-to-many form of communication. It is well-suited to supporting a community of practice or a community of interest. Typically, forums can be used by visiting the web site or entirely by email, and in some cases, read through an RSS feed reader. The email option makes them particularly popular.

Blogs

Blogs are web sites where entries are made (such as in a journal or diary) and displayed in reverse chronological order. They often provide commentary or news on a particular subject. Some function as personal online diaries or logbooks. Blogs combine text, images, and links to other blogs and web sites. They typically provide archives in calendar form, local search, syndication feeds, reader comment posting, trackback links from other blogs, blogroll links to other recommended blogs, and categories of entries tagged for retrieval by topic. They are best used to post regular updates, solicit comments, and take advantage of syndication capability.

Blogs are a way of empowering users to express their ideas, record their thinking, and link to others who are doing the same. Organizations can use blogs to communicate, solicit comments, and engage in online conversations. Blogs serve as a good archive of communications, since each entry is stored by date, and it is possible to search just within a specific blog to find previous posts.

Robert Scoble and Shel Israel defined Six Pillars of Blogging:

  1. Publishable. Anyone can publish a blog. You can do it cheaply and post often. Each posting is instantly available worldwide.
  2. Findable. Through search engines, people will find blogs by subject, by author, or both. The more you post, the more findable you become.
  3. Social. The blogosphere is one big conversation. Interesting topical conversations move from site to site, linking to each other. Through blogs, people with shared interests build relationships unrestricted by geographic borders.
  4. Viral. Information often spreads faster through blogs than via a news service. No form of viral marketing matches the speed and efficiency of a blog.
  5. Syndicatable. By clicking on an icon, you can get free “home delivery” of RSS-enabled blogs into your e-mail software. RSS lets you know when a blog you subscribe to is updated, saving you search time. This process is considerably more efficient than the last- generation method of visiting one page of one web site at a time looking for changes.
  6. Linkable. Because each blog can link to all others, every blogger has access to the tens of millions of people who visit the blogosphere every day.

For knowledge management, blogs are good tools for communications, personal knowledge management, and social networks. As a communications tool, they are available online, can be easily searched, and can be syndicated and subscribed to using RSS or other feeds.

For personal knowledge management, blogs offer a way of keeping a journal of insights, techniques, pointers, and contacts. They are the modern version of lab notebooks, and can be easily shared with others to allow them to take advantage of what the blogger has recorded.

For social networks, blogs provide a way to connect those with ideas on related topics. Features typically used in blogs that enable these connections include blogrolls linking to other blogs, comment entry forms to allow others to respond to blog entries, and trackbacks linking to other blogs which reference blog entries.

Blogs can eliminate the need for web sites and newsletters, which may be more costly to maintain. Individual departments can each be given their own blogs, which can feature a photo of the department manager and link to the organization chart. News items can be entered as blog entries, and subscriptions can be offered as RSS feeds. Separate web site maintainers and newsletter editors are thus no longer needed.

External blogs offer a way for customers and partners to interact with an organization. By inviting comments on external blogs and replying to those comments, an organization can demonstrate its transparency, responsiveness, and customer awareness. It can also receive useful suggestions, timely alerts about problems, and helpful feedback on products and services.

Forums

Forums provide for carrying on discussions among subscribers on a specific subject, including online and email posts and replies, searchable archives, and discussions grouped by threads to show the complete history on each topic. They are best used to disseminate information, ask and answer questions, and share insights.

Forums provide benefits to their subscribers and to the organization. They enable subscribers to learn from other members; share new ideas, lessons learned, proven practices, insights, and practical suggestions; reuse solutions through asking and answering questions, applying shared insights, and retrieving posted material; collaborate through conversations and interactions; and innovate through brainstorming, building on each other’s ideas, and keeping informed on emerging developments.

The organization benefits by having a reliable place where people with questions and problems can be directed to get answers and solutions, a searchable archive of the discussions, and a way for people to learn about their specialty and to develop in it. The broader the membership in a forum, the greater the benefit to the organization. This is due to having the widest possible range of perspectives, the greatest possible number of people to answer questions and solve problems, and greater leverage of all knowledge shared.

Providing a way for questions to be asked and answers to be supplied is a key function of forums. Subscribers post questions such as “has anyone done this before?”, “does anyone know how to do this?”, and “where can I find this?”, and other subscribers respond with answers, suggestions, and pointers to more information.

Another use of forums is sharing insights, techniques, and innovations with community members. Posting a tip on how a problem was solved, a customer was helped, or a breakthrough was achieved allows many others to reuse that knowledge in other contexts.

When used in conjunction with community events, repository contributions, and published articles, forums allow communities to reflect on the events, provide feedback on the contributions, and debate ideas in the articles. This extends the useful life of events, publicizes submitted content, and stimulates the lively exchange of ideas.

KM Blog of the Week

How to Save the World by Dave Pollard

The Short Shelf Life of Information (and the Long Life of Memes)

Here are six important discoveries I’ve made as a result of fifteen years’ work in so-called ‘Knowledge Management’:

  1. Almost none of the ‘just-in-case’ archived content of most corporations gets used at all, and the older it gets the less likely it is to be used
  2. Most public Internet sites are used mainly by job-seekers and by students for homework, not by customers or even the general public
  3. What is valued is know-who (not know-what) — connection not collection
  4. What is valued is just-in-time knowledge acquired through context-rich interaction (i.e. conversation)
  5. But even most conversations are only valued by their participants, and only until a few days after the conversation has passed (by which time it has either been internalized or forgotten)
  6. What is valued is information to which value (meaning, suggested action) has been added through visualization, synthesis and analysis

I don’t think any of these discoveries should come as a surprise to anyone, yet we blithely continue to behave, in most organizations, as if they were not so. The cost and energy that goes into acquiring ‘raw’ information, organizing, presenting at and attending conferences, and populating and maintaining Intranets, public Internet sites, document repositories, groupware etc. is staggering, even though most of this work has little or no value.

What does have value, but only for awhile, are these five types of content:

  1. Conversational content — face-to-face, Open Space, phone, Skype, desktop videoconferencing, IM, blogs, podcasts — mostly of value to the participants in the conversation (who have the necessary context to understand it), and only until they have internalized it (shelf life: maybe a week)
  2. Visualized and otherwise synthesized, filtered and analyzed content — the work of information professionals that tells readers/listeners succinctly either what something means, or what should they do about it (shelf life: maybe a year before it’s obsolete)
  3. Project content — the organized collection of stuff relating to an active project, in wikis, file folders or other places accessible to the full project team (shelf life: the duration of the high-activity stage of the project)
  4. Know-who directories — the (rare) up-to-date lists of who knows what (not to be confused with internal phone directories or organization charts, which are generally valueless unless you are studying how management wishes things worked) (shelf life: as long as they’re relatively complete and current)
  5. Stories — context-rich anecdotes about things that have actually happened, from which we can learn, and which can provoke good ideas to respond to (not to try to change) those realities (this includes cultural anthropology stories — direct observations of and conversations with customers ‘in their native habitat’) (shelf life: as long as the culture that gave rise to the story remains unchanged — usually a long time)

KM Link of the Week

2007 KMWorld Promise and Reality Awards finalists

Selecting winners for these awards gets more difficult each year. When we handed out the first ones at the 2001 KMWorld conference, we received roughly 20 nominations for each category. The number of submissions has grown each year since then; we received more than 175 (both formal and informal) this year, and paring them down to these finalists was especially tough.

KM Reality Award

In many organizations, knowledge management is just rhetoric. This award recognizes an organization in which knowledge management is a positive reality. The recipient of the KM Reality Award is an organization demonstrating leadership in the implementation of knowledge management practices and processes by realizing measurable business benefits. The knowledge management program will have:

  • been in place for a minimum of two years,
  • demonstrated senior management support, and
  • defined metrics to evaluate the program and its impact on organizational goals.

Finalists:

  1. Xerox for Xerox Welcome Centers — a new customer service knowledgebase solution, providing customer service call center representatives with automated tools and information to better handle customer issues through assisted service.
  2. J.B. Hunt Transport for the HAWK Power Detention system — a BPM-driven workflow solution that captures and bills chargeable driver detention events using Web-based GUI screens.
  3. PricewaterhouseCoopers for Knowledge Gateway (located on the PwC intranet) — the place to go for trusted knowledge, making it easier for people to find expertise, enhancing research capabilities and creating a robust knowledge sharing and learning culture.
  4. West Park Assessment Centre for a BPM solution to facilitate the organization’s mandate to provide impartial, credible third-party opinions for the resolution of insurance matters between insurers and claimants.
  5. ADP for a BPM initiative by ADP’s Comprehensive Outsourcing Services, designed to increase focus on the human resources (HR) business process outsourcing (BPO) mid-market segment.
  6. MEDmarketplace.com for a program to meet the market needs of the medical equipment industry — business to business, business to consumer, and consumer to consumer.
  7. Partners HealthCare for a system to provide evidence-based medical practice information to providers, by delivering quick, easy access to comprehensive and current literature, data and other information on specific medical conditions and treatments.
  8. Montgomery County, MD for a comprehensive invoice scanning and processing system.
  9. Mentor Graphics Customer Support Division for Support Net, a homegrown online support site providing post-sales technical support worldwide.
  10. Mayo Clinic for a content management system that allows both full- and part-time authors to contribute content, resulting in the development of a larger community of researchers who can share information.
  11. Defense Acquisition University for a project that integrated knowledge management into learning, to bridge the gap between learning and doing by engaging the learner at the point of need.
  12. Cambodia War Crimes Tribunals (no Web site) for a complete, end-to-end solution to review, annotate, store and disclose more than 3 million pages of Word files (interviews and statements), to discover pertinent evidence to prosecute war criminals in Cambodia.
  13. Unisys for a complete KM system designed to: support global business transformation for greater sales, delivery and operational effectiveness; enable effective collaboration and knowledge sharing across geographic and cultural boundaries; and improve employee productivity and overall business value.
  14. HP for the HP Services Consulting Integration KM program — a balanced set of people, process and technology components to enable employees to share, innovate, reuse, collaborate and learn in order to improve profitability, achieve revenue growth and maintain excellent customer satisfaction.
  15. Ernst & Young for the EY Center for Business Knowledge portal, which provides front-page access to key resources most likely used on a daily basis, and organized by companywide resources, business unit and industry sector resources.
  16. PAR Technology for a KM system that allowed the company to move from selling and supporting a very proprietary front-office solution to an enterprise solution in an “open systems” era, involving other vendors’ products, new and more complex applications, multiple operating platforms, Internet and wireless communications, etc.
  17. Washington Savannah River Company for Interactive Knowledge Resources — a collection of tools and utilities available to SMEs and operations managers to capture and share their best practices, lessons learned and unique expertise or experiences.
  18. Virginia Department of Transportation for its Knowledge Management Division — developed in 2003 to support the preservation, organization and sharing of critical institutional knowledge; to share best practices; and to establish an environment that supports knowledge creation and efficiencies.
  19. Wipro for development of the KM Measurement Framework consisting of four key indexes: 1) KM Contribution Index, measures overall rate of addition to Wipro’s knowledge capital; 2) KM Users Index, measures overall users of knowledge assets; 3) Engagement Index, measures unique users of knowledge assets; and 4) Usage Index, measures level of usage of knowledge assets.

KM Book of the Week

Knowledge Management in Modern Organizations by Murray E. Jennex (ed)

E-Book

Knowledge management has been growing in importance and popularity as a research topic and business initiative. This book documents the latest key issues of knowledge management. The innovative chapters in this book discuss the philosophical foundations of knowledge management, serving as a viable resource for academicians, practitioners, researchers, and students.

Table of Contents

Section I — What is Knowledge Management?

  1. Chapter I — What is Knowledge Management?
  2. Chapter II — Knowledge Management as a Discipline
  3. Chapter III — A Birds-Eye View of Knowledge Management: Creating a Disciplined Whole from Many Interdisciplinary Parts
  4. Chapter IV — Knowledge Management Research: Are We Seeing the Whole Picture?

Section II — Organizational Impacts of Knowledge Management

  1. Chapter V — Linking Knowledge to Competitiveness: Knowledge Chain Evidence and Extensions
  2. Chapter VI — A Multi-Level Performance Framework for Knowledge Management
  3. Chapter VII — The Influence of Organizational Trust on the Use of KM Systems and on the Success of KM Initiatives
  4. Chapter VIII — Knowledge Management’s Impact on Organizational Performance
  5. Chapter XI — Factors that Contribute to the Success of Knowledge Management Communities of Practice

Section III — Measuring Knowledge Management

  1. Chapter X — Evaluation of Knowledge Management: A Review and Agenda for Future Research
  2. Chapter XI — Knowledge Management Success Factors and Models
  3. Chapter XII — Knowledge Management Success: Empirical Assessment of a Theoretical Model
  4. Chapter XIII — Knowledge Management Information Technology User Acceptance: Assessing the Applicability of the Technology Acceptance Model

Section IV — Knowledge in Organizations

  1. Chapter XIV — The Role of Context and Its Explication for Fostering Knowledge Transparency in Modern Organizations
  2. Chapter XV — Toward the Multidimensional Conceptualization of Knowledge
  3. Chapter XVI — Eliciting Tacit Knowledge Using the Critical Decision Interview Method
  4. Chapter XVII — Knowledge Acquisition and Transfer in Developing Countries: The Experience of the Egyptian Software Industry

Section V — Experience with Knowledge Management

  1. Chapter XVIII — Adopting Knowledge-Centred Principles in Innovation Pursuits: The Case of Singapore Airlines
  2. Chapter XIX — Knowledge Management Gap: Determined Initiatives, Unsuccessful Results
  3. Chapter XX — The Lifecycle of a Knowledge Management System for Organizational Learning: Case Study
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