Hubert Saint-Onge has an article in the May 2005 Optimize Magazine on The Power Of Shared Knowledge. The article summarizes his new book, The Conductive Organization (with Charles Armstrong). This is clearly another book for my long list of "to reads." The article is aimed at CIO's, and it does a nice job of covering the issues of collaboration and technology.
Saint-Onge drives the idea that CIO's needn't worry so much about the technology as what the technology is supposed to be providing the organization. I read this as taking the next step beyond Nicholas Carr's infamous article, IT Doesn't Matter in HBR. Sure, we need the technology, but the bigger question is what will help get things done in the organization. Saint-Onge argues that knowledge socialization and collaboration are much more critical aspects to knowledge management (and business success) than any specific technologies. "The social dimension of work simply can't be ignored or underestimated." To this end, the book title describes the "ideal collaborative environment:"
[The conductive organization] continuously generates and renews its capabilities to achieve breakthrough performance. Such an enterprise enhances the quality and flow of knowledge, regardless of geography. Key to its success is a strategy that calibrates culture, structure, and systems to the needs of customers and the marketplace. These businesses leverage the knowledge in the organization in interactions with customers, regulators, suppliers, and other stake holders.
The article also repeats several variations on "current software doesn't meet users' needs, so they don't use it." Those needs might be business goals or basic user experience. Software doesn't drive business, people do. If software gets in the way, people will route around it whenever possible. I'm seeing this in the KM class I'm teaching at Northwestern. I've asked the students to use the internal course management software for off-line discussions, but beyond my basic requirements for the class, they have generally stayed away due to usability problems.
There is a lot more in the article. And, as I suspect, there will be a lot for me when (if) I get to reading the book. What do you think?
[found via Column Two]