Building the next generation of Knowledge Management

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The time they spend online is greater than years before. For example, watching online video is a daily routine. In a recent investigation published by YuMe, 49% of respondents said that they watch online video daily, with 7 hours being the mean time spent per week. Short-form content is far more attractive and eligible for attention grasp. 70% of respondents said that they watch program clips that are shorter than 5 minutes in length.  This means that we have to start thinking in terms of “knowledge nuggets” rather that packing large scale content in documents, pdf files, presentations and other type of materials. Gen Y is a natural information seeker and multi-task. They won´t spend too much time from one content to other so we have to provide them with information that is synthesized so they can spend more time looking for alternative options. Just think how this could affect lessons learned and other form of knowledge capture and dissemination.

Even the new gadgets like smartphones and tablets are creating new instances for knowledge generation, acquisition and transfer.  The proliferation of the app market has allowed diverse publishers to design and produce apps that not only fulfill entertainment purposes. There are apps such as Notegraphy that facilitates text writing in order to share thoughts in a different and efficient manner. Each member has a personalized page called “room” where they can display and share their text with other members. There are even apps such as Lumosity that help stimulate overall brain performance so that we can grasp new information in a better way. Also we can find other apps that facilitate learning a new language, technique or even improving reading skills.

Ted Schadler stated in a recent Forrester report that 29% of the global workforce is characterized as “anytime, anywhere, information workers-those who use three or more devices, work from multiple locations, and use many apps”. Schadler also states that gadgets such as tablets will continue to invade our work and home space and by 2017 the number of tablets available will triple to 905 million.

Sometimes we tend to misjudge technology and tend to criticize it for slaving us to certain routines. For example, kids watching youtube, uploading pictures to instagram and facebook chatting during dinner is just one of them.

However,  workspace collaboration is also being redefined by most of these elements.

Indeed social is embedded in almost everything we do. However, turning to social media might result in a dangerous grapevine unless we can turn conversations and tools into vital learning spaces. In order to be feasible the design must demonstrate the required business performance, and we must measure it in terms of function and behavior. First, we must consider if the tool matches actual learning styles and is not complicated to use. We must take a hard look at the functional and physical attributes of the tool. By physical I mean the layout, features etc. This is important as Gen Y is heavily influenced by many factors including design and colors.  If it´s not attractive to them, then they probably won´t feel attached to it. For example, take a look at the following infography “psychology of color” which demonstrates how color may influence certain aspects of our lives.

From the functional side, we need to define performance metrics. It´s pointless to design a social platform unless we understand  what needs to be achieved. For example, if we are looking to uncover best practices and lessons learned derived from product development, we need to work on a design that suits those requirements and steer collaboration towards reaching those goals. Previously you need to sit down with the product development department and identify trends, key knowledge that is applied in their process and other issues that may arise during the product life cycle. Once this is done, you can prepare the social platform to address diverse issues related to the critical knowledge previously identified.

A good example of social at work are the “jam sessions” organized by Ernst and Young. For them, Crowdsourcing has become a crucial way to develop new ideas and foster innovation. In 2012, Earnst and Young Transaction Services initiated the use of the IdeaJam platform in order to get workers to collaborate together and develop new design ideas. Basically any worker can suggest an idea and through crowsourcing they are enriched by the feedback and know how of other members.

In order to make it sustainable and promote collaboration they apply the following strategies:

  • Daily monitoring and contributions by core innovation team (e.g posting new ideas, commenting on ideas)
  • Select and announce cycle award recipients
  • Mid-cycle communication (reminders)
  • Communicate start of cycle; post new guiding questions.
  • Select and announce full year award recipients (special recognitions for outstanding contributions)

Not only can social media empower knowledge but it can help organizations to:

  • Identify critical knowledge and capture across diverse business units
  • Develop new design ideas through crowdsourcing
  • Facilitate Lessons Learned capture
  • Identify Subject Matter

However, the question still remains: are managers willing to go digital? As I stated in an earlier post, the challenge is that senior leaders refuse to go digital. Social isn’t frightening but the concept is still not embedded in their daily routines and they still feel that anything derived from social media is time wasting and a hazardous grapevine which will drive attention away from the business goals. However, I’m happy to read Forrester analyst Reiss-Davis statement on this: “8% of business decision-makers are Spectators (they read blogs, watch videos, or listen to podcasts), 79% are Joiners (they maintain a profile on social networking sites), and 75% are Critics (they comment on blogs and post ratings and reviews), all in the context of their business activities.” This means that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and turning digital might not be too hard.

The important thing is to concentrate on delivering value and in terms of KM, this means that we have to adapt to the new tendencies and learning behaviors imposed by Gen Y in order to strengthen organizational learning. Social will play a crucial role in this.

©Jose Carlos Tenorio Favero

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2 responses to “Building the next generation of Knowledge Management

  1. Jose, really interesting ideas. I like the idea of self-interconnecting and self-re-organizing (sounds like science fiction) information nuggets operating like a brain. Gadgets like Notegraphy make it easy for people to create the nuggets, but eventually, you have to write or sketch something meaningful. This is the point where lots of people get stuck. Notegraphy will not help, because it’s just another editor. You could spent hours on writing a text of 5 sentences if it’s not clear to yourself what you like to express. And, even if you succeeded in writing it down, it cannot be taken for granted that nugget consumers understand what you wanted to tell.
    I fully agree, re-organizing information in nuggets will help lots of people to become more skilled workers and organisations to become more successful. In addition we have to teach people how to distinguish between meaningful and meaningless information and, how to create meaningful nuggets which make sense for others. Otherwise we will waste more time with searching for informations, time that could be better used for alternative solutions and innovations.

  2. Pingback: Top posts 2013 and what to expect for 2014 | Knowledge Management, Innovation & Productivity in Action·

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