Web 2.0 #social-media


Steven Wieneke <swieneke@...>
 
Edited

I recently sent the following series of questions to the Midwest KM Community in an attempt to encourage other Midwest members to attend our monthly f-2-f lunch meetings and to continue the dialog. Stan asked that I post the questions on the SIKM Leaders Community discussion board.

 

During our January Midwest KM Community lunch/meeting, we discussed using Web 2.0 tools to ask and find answers to questions. On the way back to my office, I ask myself (in the context of a work environment), why is everyone asking one another so many questions? [Rhetorical question, yes, there are many reasons.]

 

Q2: Has the company provided enough training, instructions, user guides, intuitive software, and searchable references?

 

Q3: If easier to ask than find, what if the support and references they need were in their natural work stream, when and where they most likely need it?

 

Q4: If asking one another questions is working, why not stop spending resources on training, instructions, user guides, intuitive software, searchable references?

 

Any thoughts?


Lee Romero
 

Thanks for re-posting your question to a broader audience, Steve. I
happened to have the fortune of taking part in the lunch discussion
Steve mentions and had responded with the following (slightly edited).
I thought this might help engender some discussion around this topic.

In some domains that are very mature, it may be possible to have
captured all of the key information (knowledge, whatever) that a
practitioner needs to know. Even in a complex domain like
manufacturing, within a product line, that might be possible. So in
those contexts, it is probably feasible to imagine providing the
training, documentation, instructions, etc., in advance.

In other domains (almost all service-oriented domains), a delivery
organization (say a consulting company) is always "on the edge" of new
thinking (otherwise, why are your clients engaging with you, right?).
If you present your organization to a client as a thought leader (and,
assuming you are), it's very likely that the knowledge is so new that
there has been no chance to capture it effectively or maybe it's that
the boundary of that new knowledge is moving fast enough that by the
time you capture it, it's becoming obsolete by newer thinking.

I know within the organization I work (Deloitte), the delivery model
tends to be more one of having a few very specialized people on a
consulting engagement that "know their stuff" and then have many other
relatively junior people who are not specialists but help get the
necessary work completed. In this model, the junior staff are in a
situation where they have to ask questions to know more about the
domain (in this case, though, most of those questions are likely not
captured in an online Q&A type of environment but in the context of
the delivery team).

Another issue is that you are presuming people are motivated to
document / share their knowledge. In some cases (delivering a
physical product) there's a natural impetus to do that, at least at
the level of a user manual or service manual. You have end-user
expectations or the need to provide service people the ability to fix
the product. In a services organization, there's more of a tension -
you want to be able to grow your practice and deliver your solution to
more clients but at the heart of things, you are valuable for your
knowledge and that alone can cause resistance to documenting and
sharing that knowledge. Capturing it also has an opportunity cost
(you're not out delivering value to clients).

So a priori capturing can be a challenge. On the other hand, most
people, when presented with a specific information need by a colleague
will be motivated to share the specific answer. In other words, when
asked, they will answer. It's a lower cost and it represents a
specific need, not an abstract "share everything you know just in case
someone needs to know it".

Similar to your thinking (if we could have a means in place to provide
information in some automated way (via workflow or whatever) to people
just at the time of need) then I would also think we should consider
how to capture knowledge in some automated way out of a person's
normal workflow. In other words, as I do my work, producing whatever
deliverables I need to produce or completing whatever tasks I'm
supposed to complete, somehow what I know is culled out of that and
captured.

Good question.

Anyone else have any thoughts to share?

Regards
Lee

On Wed, Feb 2, 2011 at 4:36 PM, Steven Wieneke
<swieneke@elkawareness.com> wrote:


I recently sent the following series of questions to the Midwest KM Community in an attempt to encourage other Midwest members to attend our monthly f-2-f lunch meetings and to continue the dialog. Stan asked that I post the questions on the SIKM Leaders Community discussion board.



During our January Midwest KM Community lunch/meeting, we discussed using Web 2.0 tools to ask and find answers to questions. On the way back to my office, I ask myself (in the context of a work environment), why is everyone asking one another so many questions? [Rhetorical question, yes, there are many reasons.]



Q2: Has the company provided enough training, instructions, user guides, intuitive software, and searchable references?



Q3: If easier to ask than find, what if the support and references they need were in their natural work stream, when and where they most likely need it?



Q4: If asking one another questions is working, why not stop spending resources on training, instructions, user guides, intuitive software, searchable references?



Any thoughts?


Steven Wieneke <swieneke@...>
 

Hi Lee,

Your response opens many opportunities for dialog for Midwest KM Community  lunch meetings and our next annual meeting in September. Many of your points can be catalyst for discussions at future meetings. Several of your points are classic challenges faced by knowledge management practitioners in any domain. The thoughts below are intended to be the beginnings of separate dialog threads.

The challenge of "…very likely that the knowledge is so new that there has been no chance to capture it effectively…" is not limited to just the "service-oriented domains…say a consulting company…" Many domains have service or product cycles (garments, electronics, software, etc.) that are only 3 to 18 months long. The challenge is capturing what is worth knowing and reusing it within that life cycle. Hidden in these short duration service and product cycles are fundamental strategies and solutions that can be and are reused continually until made obsolete by a revolutionary idea or technology.

Your point "…maybe it's that the boundary of that new knowledge is moving fast enough that by the time you capture it, it's becoming obsolete by newer thinking…" is a continuing challenge for researchers  and product development scientists and engineers . Documenting what is working is difficult either because of preference, the attraction of the next discovery, desire for perfection before documenting or demands of a deadline (business deadline or topic life expectancy).

I am sorry if I lead you to believe that I presume "…people are motivated to document / share their knowledge." Many KM initiatives are initially organizational change and development interventions disguised as knowledge management activities. People (Western Culture) have to learn (requires coaching) to share and then be rewarded for sharing. People willingly participate and share personal information in social media venues. This willingness is transferring to the workplace. As this transfer becomes commonplace, what level of information richness (robustness) do we except? Require? Generalities or specifics? Just what to do or the why's, when's, where's? The validity, who said?

I agree providing documentation about products is a market entry requirement . We might consider providing this documentation as sharing, but I classify operator manuals, service manuals, instructions, etc. as commercial knowledge , its part of the product being sold and often has a part number and a formal release cycle.

I would not recommend the strategy of "…share everything you know just in case someone needs to know it…" An enterprise needs to define what is worthwhile knowing, then who knows it, the best method to share it across the company and the process to maintain its relevance. What a company needs to know is often larger than what is known; the difference is what needs to learned. Customer dissatisfaction, warranty expenses, recalls and buybacks are symptoms of what is not known, not understood, ignored or lost. [http://elkawareness.com ]

I agree wholeheartedly, "…I would also think we should consider how to capture knowledge in some automated way out of a person's normal workflow. In other words, as I do my work, producing whatever deliverables I need to produce or completing whatever tasks I'm supposed to complete, somehow what I know is culled out of that and captured." My next dream project is working on/in a multimedia facility allowing collaboration and other work to naturally occur while noninvasively harvesting information and knowledge then immediately delivering it (especially back to the originating team) at the right place, time and appropriate format.

Regards,

Steve

--- In sikmleaders@..., Lee Romero wrote:
>
> Thanks for re-posting your question to a broader audience, Steve. I
> happened to have the fortune of taking part in the lunch discussion
> Steve mentions and had responded with the following (slightly edited).
> I thought this might help engender some discussion around this topic.
>
> In some domains that are very mature, it may be possible to have
> captured all of the key information (knowledge, whatever) that a
> practitioner needs to know. Even in a complex domain like
> manufacturing, within a product line, that might be possible. So in
> those contexts, it is probably feasible to imagine providing the
> training, documentation, instructions, etc., in advance.
>
> In other domains (almost all service-oriented domains), a delivery
> organization (say a consulting company) is always "on the edge" of new
> thinking (otherwise, why are your clients engaging with you, right?).
> If you present your organization to a client as a thought leader (and,
> assuming you are), it's very likely that the knowledge is so new that
> there has been no chance to capture it effectively or maybe it's that
> the boundary of that new knowledge is moving fast enough that by the
> time you capture it, it's becoming obsolete by newer thinking.
>
> I know within the organization I work (Deloitte), the delivery model
> tends to be more one of having a few very specialized people on a
> consulting engagement that "know their stuff" and then have many other
> relatively junior people who are not specialists but help get the
> necessary work completed. In this model, the junior staff are in a
> situation where they have to ask questions to know more about the
> domain (in this case, though, most of those questions are likely not
> captured in an online Q&A type of environment but in the context of
> the delivery team).
>
> Another issue is that you are presuming people are motivated to
> document / share their knowledge. In some cases (delivering a
> physical product) there's a natural impetus to do that, at least at
> the level of a user manual or service manual. You have end-user
> expectations or the need to provide service people the ability to fix
> the product. In a services organization, there's more of a tension -
> you want to be able to grow your practice and deliver your solution to
> more clients but at the heart of things, you are valuable for your
> knowledge and that alone can cause resistance to documenting and
> sharing that knowledge. Capturing it also has an opportunity cost
> (you're not out delivering value to clients).
>
> So a priori capturing can be a challenge. On the other hand, most
> people, when presented with a specific information need by a colleague
> will be motivated to share the specific answer. In other words, when
> asked, they will answer. It's a lower cost and it represents a
> specific need, not an abstract "share everything you know just in case
> someone needs to know it".
>
> Similar to your thinking (if we could have a means in place to provide
> information in some automated way (via workflow or whatever) to people
> just at the time of need) then I would also think we should consider
> how to capture knowledge in some automated way out of a person's
> normal workflow. In other words, as I do my work, producing whatever
> deliverables I need to produce or completing whatever tasks I'm
> supposed to complete, somehow what I know is culled out of that and
> captured.
>
> Good question.
>
> Anyone else have any thoughts to share?
>
> Regards
> Lee
>
> On Wed, Feb 2, 2011 at 4:36 PM, Steven Wieneke
> swieneke@... wrote:
> >
> >
> > I recently sent the following series of questions to the Midwest KM Community in an attempt to encourage other Midwest members to attend our monthly f-2-f lunch meetings and to continue the dialog. Stan asked that I post the questions on the SIKM Leaders Community discussion board.
> >
> >
> >
> > During our January Midwest KM Community lunch/meeting, we discussed using Web 2.0 tools to ask and find answers to questions. On the way back to my office, I ask myself (in the context of a work environment), why is everyone asking one another so many questions? [Rhetorical question, yes, there are many reasons.]
> >
> >
> >
> > Q2: Has the company provided enough training, instructions, user guides, intuitive software, and searchable references?
> >
> >
> >
> > Q3: If easier to ask than find, what if the support and references they need were in their natural work stream, when and where they most likely need it?
> >
> >
> >
> > Q4: If asking one another questions is working, why not stop spending resources on training, instructions, user guides, intuitive software, searchable references?
> >
> >
> >
> > Any thoughts?
> >
> >
>


Dave Simmons
 

Hi, Steve,

Perhaps the web 2.0 tools leverage the intangible knowledge of opinion and accreted expertise. Answers congregate around questions much like birds around a thrown bag of popcorn. Web 2.0 tools also help identify expertise, promote crossing over occupational paradigms and lend a broader depth of perspective than a single tangible perspective in some sort of documented format.

I'm personally not ready yet to make the leap to total reliance on my peeps network for learning when I need it. I still need an overview model to build from (usually from a manual or cheeatsheet from one who has gone on before).

Instead, I would advocate for learning materials in smaller, bite-sized morsels that could be provided in conjunction with those people resources. Rather the whole book I'd like the ability to dip into the chapter or topics most relevant to me.

I'm involved with a massive cultural and technology shift in the government (Lotus Notes to Google Apps and server-based to cloud-based computing. ) Rather than using the model of prescripted documentation, learning guides, and other expensive repositories of learning, we're starting the dicussion around processes that folks are comfortable doing in Lotus and figuring how to do it in Google.

The idea is to shorten that hesitation employees may have where they know the task, but have to figure out the new way to do it. Short, portable steps to accomplishing tasks that can be presented in multiple formats (video, cbt, ppt, quicksheets) rather than a course "design" that is overloaded and overbuilt. Besides, we don't have any money to spend on training in the federal govt. I may be relying on a human network of new learners to support the brand new learners, so I'm uncertain how we are going to build this plane as we take off. I'm sure there's a case study or cautionary tale brewing here somewhere...

As for using the web 2.0 tools in this exercise. I think we'll use them for communicating initiative developments (feeds), q and a for burning questions (topic forums) and a place for people to vent their concerns, aha moments, and frustrations. Perhaps the networks will form naturally, but I'm enough of a skeptic to have a backup plan just in case people ask questions and people aren't out there answering.

--- In sikmleaders@yahoogroups.com, "Steven Wieneke" <swieneke@...> wrote:


I recently sent the following series of questions to the Midwest KM
Community in an attempt to encourage other Midwest members to attend our
monthly f-2-f lunch meetings and to continue the dialog. Stan asked that
I post the questions on the SIKM Leaders Community discussion board.



During our January Midwest KM Community lunch/meeting, we discussed
using Web 2.0 tools to ask and find answers to questions. On the way
back to my office, I ask myself (in the context of a work environment),
why is everyone asking one another so many questions? [Rhetorical
question, yes, there are many reasons.]



Q2: Has the company provided enough training, instructions, user guides,
intuitive software, and searchable references?



Q3: If easier to ask than find, what if the support and references they
need were in their natural work stream, when and where they most likely
need it?



Q4: If asking one another questions is working, why not stop spending
resources on training, instructions, user guides, intuitive software,
searchable references?



Any thoughts?


tombarfield75 <thomas.m.barfield@...>
 

The responses provided so far resonate with me - I will try not to repeat but to add on.

In addition to Q&A connecting experts with more junior people it is also about connecting experts across many content and skill domains. It is simply impossible in most situations for one person to know everything they need to know - even if they are a 40 year veteran. In most situations the world is changing and getting more complex. Connecting with each other via Q&A and discussion allows us to collectively continue to learn from each other.

In most cases I do not believe a social learning approach (Discussion, Q&A...) can fully replace a formal learning (training) approach. There is a time and a place for both and we are also seeing more and more examples of blending the two together. Formal learning provides an excellent foundation to build on - though few would argue that any training will get someone to deep expertise. It is thru on-the-job experiences and networking with each other that we can develop our deeper skills.

The world is filled with plenty of examples of experts making inappropriate decisions - in many cases because they didn't connect with each other (heard a great example last week related to the crash of a stealth bomber) or we connected to each other but didn't listen (Challenger) - or didn't have the right culture in place.

Improving Q&A/discussion at Accenture is one of my top priorities. I want to make it as easy as possible for any of our 200,000+ people to post a question and then be either directed to similar past questions/answers or direct the question to the right people or communities.

Tom