Three components for knowledge management

If you want to manage knowledge, or maybe better phrased, record the current state of knowledge within you organization it is nowadays a rather difficult task. We used to think that by just having a knowledge manager or a group of knowledge managers we would be able to maintain a certain level of quality. These managers were reviewing the content and decided if something should or should not be listed in the knowledge repository.

Knowledge leaks

The big downside of this is that there a few people who are deciding or the complete what assets are useful and that you need to have any assets in the first place. The knowledge that wasn’t shared in assets or wasn’t approved by the knowledge manager simply evaporated and was in best case just not listed in the repository but in worst case the information was lost. If you want to prevent knowledge leaking like I just described it is most likely you will need three components:

  • A repository
  • A social networking platform
  • A social collaboration platform

These three components are tightly linked and enables a continuous process of knowledge recording. There is no small group that is deciding for everybody what is useful. It is everybody that decides what is useful for everybody: in some cases explicitly as in uploading and rating assets in the repository and other cases much more passive by just having a conversation on the social networking platform.

Continuous recording

The repository is used for storing documents and other assets that are of a persistence nature (most deliverables in a project are of this nature) and often offers a way to rate and review documents. Documents that aren’t viewed for a long time and/ or with a very low rating will be removed over time to keep the valuable information and to prevent any clutter.

The social networking platform is used for day to day communication, providing updates on deliverables, sharing successes and issues and collaborate on an ad hoc basis on these issues. Information is fluent and of a non-permanent nature, though all information is searchable and discussions and decisions are traceable and can directly (or indirectly) linked to certain deliverables in the repository or to certain activities on the social collaboration platform.

The social collaboration platform is used for structured collaboration on deliverables with a team. Input is structured, and changes are tracked on a permanent basis as well as discussions around the deliverables. Deliverables created on this platform can be moved towards the repository if it the result is something that is rather persistant of nature.

Overall these three components together facilitate continuous recording of knowledge being shared, plus an overview of all information over time on which decision in the project where based, enabling full traceability. It doesn’t depends on the few deciding for everyone what is good for them, it is about everyone who is sharing the information without holding back. Relevance is always in the eye of the beholder.

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