Topics

"It's My First Day, and I'm Already Lost! #jobs #knowledge-transfer #km101 #knowledgeworkers


Abbe Wiesenthal
 

Every company has its own unique "languages"; Acronyms, Terms, and System/Application Names. It can make a new hire, no matter how experienced in their core job responsibilities, feel bewildered. For example, at WarnerMedia, people needed to be at least conversant with language around:
  • Video/Audio
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • News Production
  • Network Operations
  • Post-Production
  • Creative
  • Traffic and Scheduling
  • VOD/Streaming
  • Content Supply Chain & Distribution...
You get the idea. My solution? I created a "single source of truth"; a centralized location that defined and described terms in all of the different languages. I used Sharepoint Lists to create a knowledge base for the Acronyms, Terms and Application/System Names that were unique to the company. Although it was launched for team members in my department, it eventually became a resource for the entire Turner division of WM. The most positive effect was to allow new hires to get up to speed more quickly and become productive without spending time searching for this type of information. After I opened up these 3 Lists for crowdsourcing, they grew even more rapidly and as a side benefit, this promoted the usage of the entire KM repository.

Has anyone else done anything similar in their organization?


Stan Garfield
 

Abbe, maintaining lists like can be extremely useful. I maintained a list of such lists, with links to glossaries, acronym finders, and other terminology resources.  Doing this in a wiki makes it easy for anyone to add new terms.

The most useful list I ever created and maintained was the Key Contacts List at Digital Equipment Corporation:

I created a document to record what information I could find out about the various groups. This became known as the Key Contacts List, and it was the single most popular piece of knowledge I ever managed. It contained the structure, names, and roles of everyone at Digital who had a key area of responsibility, and the monthly updates were subscribed to by over 30,000 people using an opt-in service called Reader’s Choice. I updated this document every month, and it had the most subscribers of any periodical in the company.


Patrick Lambe
 

Thanks for sharing Abbe. 

We are working with an agency that has several different very technical areas of work. We have been helping them to develop a taxonomy. We incorporated acronyms, abbreviations, and technical terms with definitions into the taxonomy (as preferred terms or as synonyms). This is all managed in a taxonomy management system and integrated with SharePoint. 

The terms with definitions / acronyms / abbreviations are flagged as “Glossary” items in the system. When a search query matches a term, part of term, or an acronym/abbreviation in a Glossary item, the Glossary entry appears as a pinned search result at the top of the search results page with term and definition. Because the list is incorporated into the taxonomy and has relationships with other terms, these relationships also appear as additional information in the “Glossary” box, and any related terms that are listed are clickable and can generate new searches.

I absolutely agree that this is most helpful to new hires. The experienced hands like it but don’t think it’s essential, at least for the terms in their own domain. But I also believe it will help people communicate across technical specialisations. Moreover, it has uncovered many instances of the same acronym being used to mean very different things in different parts of the organisation! So the Glossary can also help to disambiguate. 

(1) Single source of truth, absolutely; (2) milk the work in as many ways as you can.

P

Patrick Lambe
Partner
Straits Knowledge

phone:  +65 98528511

web:  www.straitsknowledge.com
resources:  www.greenchameleon.com
knowledge mapping:  www.aithinsoftware.com


On 4 Mar 2021, at 3:34 AM, Abbe Wiesenthal <abbewiesenthal@...> wrote:

Every company has its own unique "languages"; Acronyms, Terms, and System/Application Names. It can make a new hire, no matter how experienced in their core job responsibilities, feel bewildered. For example, at WarnerMedia, people needed to be at least conversant with language around:
  • Video/Audio
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • News Production
  • Network Operations
  • Post-Production
  • Creative
  • Traffic and Scheduling
  • VOD/Streaming
  • Content Supply Chain & Distribution...
You get the idea. My solution? I created a "single source of truth"; a centralized location that defined and described terms in all of the different languages. I used Sharepoint Lists to create a knowledge base for the Acronyms, Terms and Application/System Names that were unique to the company. Although it was launched for team members in my department, it eventually became a resource for the entire Turner division of WM. The most positive effect was to allow new hires to get up to speed more quickly and become productive without spending time searching for this type of information. After I opened up these 3 Lists for crowdsourcing, they grew even more rapidly and as a side benefit, this promoted the usage of the entire KM repository.

Has anyone else done anything similar in their organization?


Lee Romero
 

Patrick - That sounds like a brilliant solution!  We do something somewhat similar with a dictionary of acronyms - but not the whole taxonomy (and, unfortunately, the acronyms are not managed in the same tool as the taxonomy anyway).  I will have to consider how to re-use this idea, though!

Regards
Lee

On Wed, Mar 3, 2021 at 7:29 PM Patrick Lambe <plambe@...> wrote:
Thanks for sharing Abbe. 

We are working with an agency that has several different very technical areas of work. We have been helping them to develop a taxonomy. We incorporated acronyms, abbreviations, and technical terms with definitions into the taxonomy (as preferred terms or as synonyms). This is all managed in a taxonomy management system and integrated with SharePoint. 

The terms with definitions / acronyms / abbreviations are flagged as “Glossary” items in the system. When a search query matches a term, part of term, or an acronym/abbreviation in a Glossary item, the Glossary entry appears as a pinned search result at the top of the search results page with term and definition. Because the list is incorporated into the taxonomy and has relationships with other terms, these relationships also appear as additional information in the “Glossary” box, and any related terms that are listed are clickable and can generate new searches.

I absolutely agree that this is most helpful to new hires. The experienced hands like it but don’t think it’s essential, at least for the terms in their own domain. But I also believe it will help people communicate across technical specialisations. Moreover, it has uncovered many instances of the same acronym being used to mean very different things in different parts of the organisation! So the Glossary can also help to disambiguate. 

(1) Single source of truth, absolutely; (2) milk the work in as many ways as you can.

P

Patrick Lambe
Partner
Straits Knowledge

phone:  +65 98528511

web:  www.straitsknowledge.com
resources:  www.greenchameleon.com
knowledge mapping:  www.aithinsoftware.com


On 4 Mar 2021, at 3:34 AM, Abbe Wiesenthal <abbewiesenthal@...> wrote:

Every company has its own unique "languages"; Acronyms, Terms, and System/Application Names. It can make a new hire, no matter how experienced in their core job responsibilities, feel bewildered. For example, at WarnerMedia, people needed to be at least conversant with language around:
  • Video/Audio
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • News Production
  • Network Operations
  • Post-Production
  • Creative
  • Traffic and Scheduling
  • VOD/Streaming
  • Content Supply Chain & Distribution...
You get the idea. My solution? I created a "single source of truth"; a centralized location that defined and described terms in all of the different languages. I used Sharepoint Lists to create a knowledge base for the Acronyms, Terms and Application/System Names that were unique to the company. Although it was launched for team members in my department, it eventually became a resource for the entire Turner division of WM. The most positive effect was to allow new hires to get up to speed more quickly and become productive without spending time searching for this type of information. After I opened up these 3 Lists for crowdsourcing, they grew even more rapidly and as a side benefit, this promoted the usage of the entire KM repository.

Has anyone else done anything similar in their organization?


Tim Powell
 

Terrific idea, Abbe – and I’m not surprised that this was successful. 

 

I also find this true of professions and business disciplines across organizations.  When I -- trained as an MBA -- speak with clients or students who are not MBAs, I ask them to stop me when I lapse into MBA-ese.  The fact is, I can speak with other MBAs much more effectively and efficiently when “encoding” into that jargon.  But no non-MBAs will understand us!  In addition to being expedient, professional jargon is also exclusionary of the non-initiated.  (Which, I admit, is sometimes the hidden agenda.)

 

But, as you say, layered over that, each industry -- and each organization within it -- has its own unique dialect.  As a consultant continually dealing with various organizations, I attend to this first in sizing up the situation – much as an anthropologist would when encountering a new “tribe.”  The seasoned veterans in any organization speak this language fluently – while the newcomers either ramp up quickly – or get lost trying to follow the conversation. 

 

Your contribution helps unmask and decode what is otherwise organizational opacity and obfuscation.

 

tp


TIM WOOD POWELL 
| President, The Knowledge Agency® Author, The Value of Knowledge |

New York City, USA | DIRECT/MOBILE +1.212.243.1200 |

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From: <main@SIKM.groups.io> on behalf of Abbe Wiesenthal <abbewiesenthal@...>
Reply-To: "main@SIKM.groups.io" <main@SIKM.groups.io>
Date: Wednesday, March 3, 2021 at 2:34 PM
To: "main@SIKM.groups.io" <main@SIKM.groups.io>
Subject: [SIKM] "It's My First Day, and I'm Already Lost! #jobs #knowledgeworkers #knowledge-transfer #km101

 

Every company has its own unique "languages"; Acronyms, Terms, and System/Application Names. It can make a new hire, no matter how experienced in their core job responsibilities, feel bewildered. For example, at WarnerMedia, people needed to be at least conversant with language around:

  • Video/Audio
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • News Production
  • Network Operations
  • Post-Production
  • Creative
  • Traffic and Scheduling
  • VOD/Streaming
  • Content Supply Chain & Distribution...

You get the idea. My solution? I created a "single source of truth"; a centralized location that defined and described terms in all of the different languages. I used Sharepoint Lists to create a knowledge base for the Acronyms, Terms and Application/System Names that were unique to the company. Although it was launched for team members in my department, it eventually became a resource for the entire Turner division of WM. The most positive effect was to allow new hires to get up to speed more quickly and become productive without spending time searching for this type of information. After I opened up these 3 Lists for crowdsourcing, they grew even more rapidly and as a side benefit, this promoted the usage of the entire KM repository.

Has anyone else done anything similar in their organization?


Abbe Wiesenthal
 

Stan,

We tried to do something like this at a corporate level; I think it was called the Affiliated Skills Database. It was launched to great fanfare but had two issues, both of them cultural I believe:

1. Employees were not incented to enter their own skills and expertise data; there was no "WIIFM" articulated to them.
2. The executive "champion" of the initiative moved into another role and no one picked up the reins.

I think that it had to potential to become what you did at DEC. I just goes to show that the "People/Culture" part of the equation is as (if not more) important than the tools set up to house the knowledge, whatever that knowledge is.


Abbe Wiesenthal
 

One of the features of Sharepoint Lists I found most useful is the ability to "tag" the Items in the List so that you could see a sub-section of Items related only to a "domain" of information. For example, you could click on "ITIL" and see only the Acronyms or Terms related to the ITIL Framework. Each Item also contained a link to an external source of additional information, e.g. https://www.bmc.com/blogs/itil-4/.

One interesting use case came up in a project meeting in which we were all referring to "pods". A new developer in the meeting was unclear on what a "pod" was in the context of the meeting. When you google "pods" you get millions of results so essentially useless. When you searched for "pod" in the Glossary, you would get the meaning of pod within the context of television: An advertising pod is a term used in connection with TV advertising to specify multiple ads sequenced together and played back-to-back as in the break between program segments.

Sometimes relatively simple KM use cases can provide widespread benefits!


Stan Garfield
 

Abbe, I agree that maintaining an employee skills database is a difficult challenge. In the case of the Key Contacts List, I was the curator of information about executives and upper-level managers that involved asking administrative assistants to provide me with updates every month. This was time-consuming but doable, whereas getting employees to update their own skills is much harder.

I have written two articles about expertise location and skills databases:

For a less-important digression, channeling my inner William Safire, here are definitions of abbreviation, acronym, and initialism:
  • abbreviation -- a shortened form of a word or phrase
  • acronym -- a word (that can be pronounced) formed from the initial parts of a series of words
  • initialism -- a group of initial letters used as an abbreviation for a name or expression, each letter being pronounced separately
"USMC" is an initialism of "United States Marine Corps." "SCUBA" is an acronym for "Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus."
Acronyms and initialisms are two types of abbreviations. So are words such as "apps," which is an abbreviation of "applications."