Monday 11 January 2016

Enterprise Conversation Management

If the subject material of KM is both Content and Conversation, why do we hear so much about Enterprise Content Management, and so little about Enterprise Conversation Management?

Image from wikimedia commons
We know that knowledge is either tacit or explicit - either in the heads, or codified. We know also that there are two parallel approaches to KM - the connect and collect approaches (connecting the people, collecting the knowledge). We know the means of knowledge transfer through connect and collect are conversation and content.

Yet the content gets all the attention. There is a huge discipline of Enterprise Content Management, and the term gets 2.3 million hits on Google. There is almost nothing on Enterprise Conversation Management (247 hits).

Why does the content get 10,000 times more attention?

I think its probably because content is far less messy to manage than conversation. However, messy or not, conversation is as much at the heart of our KM frameworks as content.  For example:
  • Conversations within communities of practice, through which practices are discussed and shared, and problems solved - either online or face to face conversations such as Knowledge Exchange
  • Conversations between experienced and less-experienced staff, as part of coaching, mentoring, and job handover
  • Conversations within project teams to identify shared lessons, such as Retrospects and After Action Reviews
  • Conversations between one project team and other teams, such as Peer Assist, Knowledge Handover etc.
These are knowledge-specific conversations, all of them dialogue-based, and therefore different from action-specific conversations such as briefing and reporting, and different from the typical broadcast notification traffic seen on some examples of social media.   It is through these dialogue conversations that tacit knowledge is brought to light, shared, and co-developed. Managing, structuring and facilitating these conversations - making them routine, efficient, powerful and deep, is a crucial element of knowledge management.

Don't neglect Enterprise Conversation Management - pay it as much attention as Enterprise Content Management as part of a balanced KM approach.

Content and Conversation are the King and Queen of Knowledge Management - they rule together. Content is something to talk about, Conversation is where Content is born and where it is tested. As Knowledge Managers, we should focus equally on both.

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