This website covers topics on knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

Hub of knowledge - Outlook?

I joined about 100 other people for the ii3 webinar, A Fresh Outlook - MS Outlook as a Knowledge Hub this past Thursday. I expected a slightly different focus, but I still learned a few things along the way.

I was expecting something that focused on how organizations are developing the skills of their workforce to use their tools more intelligently with Outlook as an example of a tool that could be used as a knowledge hub for the individual.

Instead, the focus was on how companies, such as those of the presenters (below), are using the fact that many people treat Outlook at their "home" application to create KM-related functionality that works in line with the Outlook mode of operation. This is done primarily to make the transition to the new applications (new functionality) less of a hurdle to the users: if they operate within a familiar environment, there are less hurdles to using new capabilities.

Examples included integrating Hummingbird's document management with Outlook to enable the approval workflow without ever exiting Outlook itself. Entopia integration with Outlook to enable search and addition to the knowledge base with context-sensitive menus. ii3's Advanced Knowledge web interface blended into Outlook for best practices. Integration of business workflows around approvals and knowledge base search - interfacing forms with a variety of business tools.

The requirement of retaining a familiar user experience doesn't require that you bulk up Outlook with new tools. In one extended example, a law firm extracted the standard functionality of Outlook email, calendaring, task management and contact management and plopped it into a super portal built around SharePoint. Users are given the familiar personal information management features of Outlook, and they are within the same environment where they can do document management, project management and some accounting. They were specifically looking to stop people from using Outlook as a file storage mechanism and use tools better suited to that purpose.

My question about helping your people use the tools intelligently came up at the end of the session, but I had to get away to attend to other things. I was thinking of things like helping people get the most out of the existing functionality before throwing new stuff at them. Outlook plays a huge part in the way people operate from day to day. People need skills to get through Outlook efficiently and effectively.

Speaking of which, anyone know if there is a keyboard shortcut to create a bullet when editing items within in MS Outlook 2003? MS Word lets you do Ctrl-Shift-L to get a list item. I want the same thing in Outlook, so I don't have to bother mousing. [Update: Ctrl-Shift-L does work, one just needs to be editing Rich Text or html messages.] And how about indent/outdent? [Update: In Outlook, Ctrl-T and Ctrl-Shift-T manage indents. In word it's Ctrl-M.]

Note: The speakers were Andy Moore (publisher of KMWorld), Shy Alter (CEO of ii3), Teresa Grote (CIO of Dinsmore & Shohl, a large law firm), and Ted Graham (Worldwide Director of KM at Hill & Knowlton).

Update: The webinar and Q&A are now available online.

[Thanks to excited utterances for the reference to the webinar.]

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