Posts filed under ‘Knowledge Management’
One of my favorite librarian bloggers, Meredith is thinking about KM needs in her organization.
Knowledge management in a growing and change averse organization
Clearly, though, the solution to these problems is not so simple as creating an Intranet or a wiki or whatever. There has to be a real change in culture or people won’t use the tools they are given. That’s really where the managers have to come in. Management style is so crucial to KM. The way you manage people will make them more or less likely to share what they know.
What Meredith is looking for is to simply get all of the information she and the copyright checker need in order to ensure that students have access to materials they need for classes.
Jack has an idea that might be less threatening by requesting the information in a format familiar to the staff and faculty. However, setting any requirement or standard still requires effort and change on their part.
Unfortunately, there are those that simply do not like change of any kind. I used to completely resent these types of people. However, I have come to learn that they can serve as brakes to slow down those of us at the other end of the spectrum. They make me stop and think — what am I trying to accomplish? Is this the only, or even the best approach? What can I keep from what they are used to?
I too have encountered change resistance. I have encountered those who will insist upon doing things in an unbeliably awkward and inefficient manner. In my experience, I have found there is usually a reason (often political, social, psychological or all three).
Meredith also points out that many people view their specialized knowledge as a form of job security. That is an issue that I think trips up every KM and/or collaborative organization and/or learning organization approach. This is a hold over from the 20th century, industrial viewpoints that said that people are cogs and are replacble. Couple this background idea with the request to share information, and you can understand why some people will resist!
5. War and Peace length: "A common mistake in Web design is to just [convert] a brochure to the Web. But the Web is its own medium, and communication has to change to reach users. Users are known to read 25 percent slower on the screen than on paper, read fewer words and don't like long pages which require scrolling down," she said.
This is not applicable to OPACS, as it does not fit their function. It is a danger to libraries creating home pages. However, I will credit librarians with seeming to know not to throw long pieces at their users. However, websites by librarians for librarians do sometimes violate this issue.
Many organizations, MPOW for one, are still struggling to transition from print to online writing. Many writers do address the various audiences by using the appropriate terms (parents, teachers, chemists, members, etc.). However, if there are legal issues the lawyers often won't allow them to reword things in the level appropriate for the general public. ARGH! In this case, I know the writers are not at fault and simply try to avoid having to rewrite things to please the lawyers. Thus, lawyers need some writing and usability training.
Many professionals (librarians included) seem to forget, or do not realize, that publications targeted for the general public are written at a sixth grade level for a reason. Bemoaning the state of education and lack of reading does nothing to reach these users. Even users who are highly intelligent appreciate a more friendly voice.
Scrolling for a lengthy piece is not user friendly. Throwing a PDF or other attached document at the user is not user friendly. Why should I have to use my computer resources to open your information? Reading something written in a formal voice is boring and sends the users elsewhere.
Does leadership style affect Community of Practice effectiveness?
But what of the leadership style applied to the CoP? Can the executive sponsor, or community leader, or other influential champion of a CoP be an autocrat when it comes to managing the community? Must a community leader be collaborative, participative, sensing, and so on, in order for the community to function effectively? Read: the rest.
As Ron notes earlier in his post, Community of Practices (CoP) are meant to create a democratic, egalitarian environment. I recall a discussion on one of my KM lists not so long ago as to what differentiates a project team from a CoP (particulary when describing internal groups). I would postulate that an internal group cannot develop into a CoP under autocratic leadership. I would question any group's ability to develop into a CoP if they are not free to share, make mistakes and learn. Thus, even your less autocratic but still authoritarian cultures will have difficulty developing internal CoPs. Of course senior management attitudes will vary depending upon the group of employees and it is possible that specific groups could develop into a viable CoP. However, note that the management attitude would still need to be more liberal toward this specific group.
Bulletin boards are a great example of a tool that can be used by a project group or a CoP. Many bulletin boards (and blog comment tools) have a setting for moderation. I have experienced debate over how much moderation might affect dialog and how much moderation is effective in several forums. The style of moderation would reflect the style of group leadership. If members are strictly constrained in their posting to simply commenting upon the linked object or project and not about concepts and ideas — the discussion benefits only that particular project and not the greater good of the participants and/or team and/or organization.
One bulletin board failure I experienced failed because management insisted upon heavily censoring topical discussion posts. These message boards were set up to provide a space for employees to ask questions about specific topics. These were not related to organizational projects. So, without this linkage this was not a project team communication forum. Anyone could (as far as the technology set up) post a question or answer. Only specifc Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) could post a summary and close and archive the thread. Thus, from a technological stand point we provided a fairly egalitarian environment in hopes of developing CoPs.
However, leadership style affected our outcome dramatically. Rather than seize a teaching opportunity, they removed any posts they saw as incomplete or incorrect. The really sad thing about this is that it demonstrates how clueless organizational senior management can be about the informal lines of communication and status. The same person who posted the censored post will simply return to verbally telling their peers the incorrect or incomplete information. So knowledge sharing among peers is still occuring just not in a way that will benefit other groups and future queries and can not inform employee education.
I found Ron's post via Jack Vinsen's blog
Michael, of Library Crunch, writes a post called Managing Our Expertise
I'm so excited to see knowledge management mentioned in the library context! One would think, though, that libraries would be a natural environment for KM. After all, libraries are about storing and exchanging information. However, the vital missing ingrediant, as Michael notes is a lack of knowledge transfer. It is difficult to capture ideas and experiences beyond the required statistical and usage reports. However, organizations in general have found that we need qualitative information as much as we need quantitative information.
I am convinced to the marrow of my bones that these fields that have become my passion can and need to learn from one another! Anyway, just a quick look at this note tonight.