Friday 21 November 2014

Too many channels

The purpose of a Knowledge Management framework within an organisation is to give people access to the knowledge they need, to make effective decisions and take effective action. 

 Knowledge must flow from the supplier to the user, through Push (publishing, telling) or through Pull (searching, asking).  To flow, it needs a channel.

This is where the Internet, and specifically social media on the Internet, is such a bad model for organisations, as online there can be so many channels, without causing too much of a problem.

How many social media channels can you name? The conversation prism lists over 200.

How many social media channels do you follow regularly? I follow about 5 or 6, you may follow more.  That means I am tapped in to just a few percent of the channels, which is not a big problem on the world wide web as there are so many people out there,  I am bound to find something of interest, or even get my questions answered. There are a lot of people that share the same channels, and I can access a lot of knowledge.

However inside the small world of an organisation, you need to maximise the chance that the knowledge supplier and knowledge user are on the same channel. You cannot afford knowledge to go missing because user and supplier are using different media.

Schlumberger's approach to this issue is very clear - for every knowledge management purpose within their organisation, there should be one channel, and only one channel.

  • Connecting people with technical information? One channel
  • Finding people with expertise? One channel
  • Asking a question of a Community of Practice? One channel
  • Publishing video? One channel
and so on.

Avoid the temptation to add multiple channels which fulfil the same purpose; this introduces confusion and duplication, and increases the chance that critical knowledge will get lost somewhere between the supplier and the user. 

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