This blog was inspired by tonight's discussion at the Boston KM Forum.
In my work with clients who are implementing a knowledge management platform, I see the same scenario again and again:
The client has a lot of disorganized:
"I can't find anything!"
So the client does this:
Then they say:
"I get too many results! It's a big pile of junk!"
So they do one or more of the following:
- Faithfully slog through the pile of junk ("Maybe it's on the next page of results")
- Go back to the old way ("I'll squirrel away the content I know and trust")
- Evaluate other search tools
When what might really help is this:
i.e., add a person.
A human to bridge the gap between the content and the people who need it.
Gian Jagai, who spoke tonight about his role as a Knowledge Manager, mentioned the need for a Community Coordinator, to facilitate the knowledge shared in a Community of Practice.
Dan Galant, the instructor of the Mindsharp course I recently took, said "Sharepoint is going to bring back Library Sciences," and that the best implementations he's seen are the ones where the organization hired a librarian to come in and organize the content.
They're both talking about the same thing – the need for a human to vet the content, to link information and technology and the user community. I'm not saying anything new here, but most of the organizations I work with don't have this role, and aren't planning to hire for it. Yet here are just a few of the ways this person could improve knowledge management at a company:
- Analyze search results and requests, then create links between what people are searching for and the best content or expert for the job (in SharePoint, these are your Keyword Best Bets)
- Identify premium content and tag it as such
- Update old content (or make sure someone's updating it)
- Interview experts, and document knowledge and information (this could be as simple as adding wiki entries)
- Distribute content to those who could benefit from it (RSS feeds are one way of making this easier)
- Document the requests for research help, and interview users about the ways an improved knowledge management system has benefitted the organization, to generate metrics justifying further investment.
One of the main things I've learned from working with SharePoint is that no matter how well you set up this tool, and no matter how many features it has for facilitating knowledge management, the customer probably won't be satisfied if they are relying on the technology alone to do what they need it to do.
Unfortunately, the folks with whom I work most closely and feel this lack of user satisfaction most acutely are influencers rather than decision-makers, with no authority to hire this community / content coordinator.
I don't know the answer, but I want to start recommending this role as part of the SharePoint team my clients will need as they roll out their collaborative portals.
Thanks, KM Forum, for a great discussion!