Friday 16 March 2012

De-knowledging through oversupply

there's a real oversupply of these mini-towersI remember someone - I think it was Larry Prusak, saying that the easiest way for a knowledge base to become "de-knowledged" is through over-supply.

Imagine you search for advice, and find one lesson or one best practice document. You are happy - you have received some help and advice which you can review and adapt and adopt.

Imagine you search for advice, and find one thousand lessons or one thousand best practice documents. You are uphappy - you don't know what lessons are relevant, what practices are better than others. Too much knowledge is as bad as none - you are still underinformed.

This situation of deknowledging through oversupply is very common. I have seen lessons databases swamped by multiple lessons - some contradictory, some repetitive. I have seen a company with 20,000 case studies - far too many to read, or even to browse. In both cases, these resources were unused.

What is missing is the step of complilation, distillation and synthesis. I have no time to talk about these at the moment - my ferry is just boarding - so more detail will follow on my return from China.


Barbara Fillip said...

Absolutely agree about the need for distillation and synthesis. Just last week, I introduced a couple of people to an internal knowledge base. They were impressed by the amount of valuable information, but the first question I got was "do you have a top ten list?" So, you can't get to a top 10 list without a comprehensive knowledge base, but the comprehensive knowledge base may get unused if it doesn't have a quick path to high value items for the busy manager.

Jack Vinson said...

This is a big aspect of why people get so frustrated with company-internal websites. It is difficult to get the context of all the potential documents without a connection to the people who created / used / updated the content. Said another way, there is so much information and no curation - at least no curation that means anything to the people doing the search. (Someone probably set up categories and taxonomies, but the reality of the company changed or the terms never made sense to the users in the first place.) This is the compilation, distillation and synthesis that Nick mentions.

Maybe a blog post on this topic is needed. Makes me think of David Weinberger's recent book on the subject, Too Big to Know.

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