I stumbled upon this month-old post from Cory Banks that just strikes a major chord with me. He says that Repositories are for sharing, not storing.
A recent thread on actKM.org caught my eye. The problem of getting people to read documents got me thinking about some of the situations we are currently dealing with and I felt the urge to share.
Cory's post is a couple extracts from the actKM.org discussion he mentions, but I really like the idea expressed in the title of his piece. All those "knowledge repositories" out there are no good if people can't find or use the knowledge in them. The whole point is knowledge sharing right?
And knowledge sharing isn't merely writing a document and assuming someone will read it. Look at the vast majority of bloggers. They write their articles, sure. But then they publicize by producing a web feed and letting the world know there is an update (most blog software does this without the owners even knowing). Many bloggers also categorize and tag their posts, so that they might show up on search engines and aggregators. Some bloggers re-post links to their blogs on their favorite social networking site, so that their friends might see the article and read or forward the link along. All these actions are after the fact of writing the article: it's all about seeking to share the ideas they've dropped into the article.
Why don't we think of things the same way in enterprise knowledge repositories. It has to be the responsibility of the people who create the materials to create useful titles, add tags and other relevant metadata to the materials. And the software had better make it easy to email or post links to the documents to colleagues or to the intranet in general. And, since this is enterprise we are discussing, it had better be easy to find the owner / authors of the materials, so any questions can be directed to the right people. Our knowledge repositories allow for all these things, right?
I wonder how this same idea might connect to all the other kinds of stuff storage mechanisms we have in businesses today. Is the storage because stuff needs to go somewhere (records retention), because it's paper and books (libraries and records retention rooms), or because we need to put it somewhere between creation and use (databases, document management, etc.)? In all these cases the stuff needs to be found, but I think the reasoning and thinking behind the "find" action is very different. With knowledge sharing and the old KM tale about "If HP only knew what HP knows," the job can't end with the act of creation.
[Photo: "Locked away" by PurpleGecko]