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Knowledge Collaboration Trumps Knowledge Management

Knowledge is never perfect.

Knowledge may begin as a simple resolution to an issue. Then it matures as people add knowledge fragments to increase the findability and usability of the knowledge article. The simple act of commenting on a knowledge articles adds value for the next user of the knowledge article. Thus, knowledge is enhanced through collaboration and the concept of crowd sourcing – the continued evolution of knowledge by those that interact with it.

The Oxford Dictionaries defines knowledge management as the efficient handling of information and resources within a commercial organization. Knowledge management per ITIL® is a process responsible for providing knowledge to all other IT service management processes with the primary purpose to improve efficiency by reducing the need to rediscover knowledge. When most people hear the term knowledge management, they focus on the second word, management. Management is responsible for defining processes, the governance, and control requirements. Many knowledge management initiatives have failed because of the focus was on the process and the technology to enable the process.

Successful knowledge management initiatives have a heavy focus on the people.

Leaders of successful knowledge management initiatives understand that people must make the decision to share their knowledge and that knowledge is not perfect. They don’t define a rigid manufacturing process to produce highly validated and verified knowledge. Instead, successful organizations understand that knowledge is dynamic, constantly changing, and never perfect. The knowledge base is not a collection of perfectly written documents. It is collaboration space for individuals to share their experiences. And through their interacting with the knowledge, they continue to improve the knowledge and their own competencies.

The knowledge base must become a collaboration space.

The collaboration space is where experiences are captured as knowledge articles. And knowledge articles are improved as individuals interact with them. Knowledge collaboration is a continual service improvement strategy that enhances the knowledge base with every interaction.

Most interactions will result in the simple reuse of knowledge articles, which enhances the trust of the knowledge article. With each reuse, a reuse counter is incremented. The trust for the knowledge article increases as the evidence of reuse increases. Are you more likely to trust a knowledge article that has been used 3 times or one that has been reused 300 times? Sometimes the interactions will result in the need to flag or fix a knowledge article. Individuals with the earned authority to modify a knowledge article may fix it in the moment. Everyone on the team can comment on a knowledge article, thus flagging the need for someone with authority to fix it.

Knowledge management is more about creating a culture where individuals work collaboratively.

Knowledge management requires a culture where individuals work collaboratively, sharing their expertise and experiences. While adding and modifying (a.k.a fixing) may be rights that must be earned, every knowledge worker is given the right to use and comment on (a.k.a. flagging) existing knowledge articles. Every interaction creates an opportunity to improve knowledge through the simple acts of using and commenting. As the team collaborates electronically within the knowledge base, they are performing real-time dynamic knowledge management.

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