This website covers 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.

Structure or not - How obsessed are you?

Puff of Smoke 2Gia Lyons has posted a fun rant, based on a topic that comes up over and over again in knowledge management circles when it comes to "social" technology offerings.  If you are a person who strongly believes in structure and taxonomy as the path to knowledge management, you may not want to read this: An unhealthy obsession with organization (anonymous guest post).  The post is a great rant, but I really like this point midway through:

But I understand your fear. I am here today to tell you that you need fear no more. I am here to tell you that you can go about your business, you can ask one another questions, you can search and find information and you can invest your energies in doing your jobs rather than curating your insecurities. You are afraid because you can only think in 2 dimensions, you are Cartesian – and there is nothing wrong with that – but it will drag you down and will keep you from reaching your potential because you exist in a multi-dimensional world and there are advantages to gain from the other dimensions; advantages that will make you more productive and more successful.

The frustration is that of just about anyone trying to offer "enterprise 2.0" technologies into companies.  Beyond the fears about security are the concerns about "how will I find stuff?"  I've run into some of this in my own thinking.  The rant tears apart the thoughts, but there are a few pieces to highlight:

  • Current document repositories aren't used to find stuff as much as people want to believe.
  • Despite all the effort around SharePoint and other repositories, people still prefer storing materials in their own ways.
  • People don't want documents - they want access to the people and process related to the documents.  In other words, the stored output is only marginally helpful: the knowledge about how is much more important.

How to deal with these reservations when they arise?  I suspect shooting them down this way (or the entertaining way suggested in Gia's post) isn't going to be terribly successful.  What is the underlying problem behind the "a place for everything, and everything in its place" view?  It will take some honest conversation - possibly offline - to determine what underlying business need is being addressed.  Maybe it will also force "social" proponents to check their own assumptions about how these tools will help address business needs. 

[Photo: "Puff of Smoke 2" by thrp]

Preventing multitasking on teams

CACM: Business Impact of Web 2.0 Technologies