Steven's Notebook

Look Ma - No Hands!

Is Knowledge Sharing Natural?

“The most direct approach isn’t always the best.” So says the Chinese-cookie fortune that I’ve got taped to my display. It jumps out at me this morning as I browse the weblogs of two gentlemen for whom information flow is a normal course of nature.

…as I entered the business world, it simply made no sense to me that computers were being used solely for computing and “data processing”; the collaborative online work environment that I’d taken for granted, that I’d used day in and day out, was simply missing in action. Our work lives are all about interpersonal connections, our businesses processes are structured into connections amongst people and systems that must be coordinated. What better use of technology than to help people to connect?” [Ray Ozzie] Ya see, Ray’s one who “gets it” when the topic turns to sharing information. He sees blogs, Groove and other tools as enabling individuals, allowing them to working together. As such, he doesn’t see a need for defined process changes to take advantage of all this wonderful stuff, it should just come naturally.

We’ve got our set of sharing technologies here, being added to an long-existing workflow. Given the entrenchment of “the old way” of doing things and the day-to-day pressure of metric-driven managers, “what comes natural” for many people is “what we’ve always done.” As Jon Udell puts it, “you can’t swim upstream against what people naturally want to do.” Jon sees more and more people discovering the wonderful world of sharing – and perhaps that’s what it needs to be, discovered instead of having it forced upon them. Maybe some of us have been trying too hard to take the direct approach, holding classes and running reports while “implementing” a new “methodology.”

Have you had more success with “formal” methods of rolling out a set of KM practices and technologies or by simply showing those who appear eager and letting them evangelize it as they go along?

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