Wednesday, August 21, 2002

Blogs as KM - One State's Efforts

Digging Ideas Out of People’s Heads.

Dave McNamee is doing a good job on his weblog of narrating his work and keeping his co-workers updated about where his head is at on any given day.  Good work Dave!

I worry sometimes about the public expression of information that should be kept confidential, but I worry more about the exponentially worse problem of keeping confidential that which should be publicly expressed.  I can think of ways to solve the first problem, but I can’t dig ideas out of people’s heads.  They must be expressed to be used. [Windley’s Enterprise Computing Weblog]

Phil Windley is the CIO for the state of Utah. His post above is consistent with what I said earlier today about needing to be able to explain something before you can share it. But it goes deeper…

If taken in an organizational context, successful KM depends in part on people sharing the right information. And because different individuals have different skill sets and different experiences, it’s unlikely that one individual would know what another would find valuable. This compounds Phil’s comments: not only can’t you dig ideas out of people’s heads, but you wouldn’t necessarily know which ones you would want to pull. (Which I guess means knowledge isn’t like pornography: you wouldn’t know it when you saw it.)

One of the advantages to blogs is that they make it easy to simply jot down some thoughts. You don’t need to give too much thought to what is valuable and what isn’t – not only wouldn’t you know, but value to one individual is worthless to another. The key is to ensure a simple, reliable way for capturing the ad hoc thoughts. Blogs make capturing this info about as simple as it can be.

Of course, you’ll still run into the traditional challenges in any sharing oriented technology endeavor – cultural issues, lack of processes to implement/support the initiative, etc. But addressing the infrastructure problem lets the organization triangulate on the culture and people issues. With someone like Phil actively encouraging organizational blogging, that helps establish strong executive buy-in. On top of that, Phil’s doing a good job of highlighting individuals throughout the state who are blogging. See here, here and here for examples. That helps highlight individual contributions – which addresses the people/culture challenges.

Phil’s not only a good commentator, he’s a good case study. I look forward to reading on the ongoing experiences in Utah – the right pieces are in place.

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