I recently read a couple of interesting articles on CMSwire that attempt to tie knowledge management and social business systems together:
Frankly, I've always been puzzled by commentaries that try to draw a distinction between these or pit them against each other. To me, social collaboration systems are a subset of KM, with more formal systems (document management, taxonomy, records retention, etc.) being the flip side of the same coin. I have also seen arguments pitting a formal, structured approach such as lean/six sigma against a networked, "wisdom of the crowds" approach to solving knotty, wicked problems. To me, they're all just tools in the organizational toolbox, so the real questions are when to use which tool and how they all fit together.
Here are a couple of questions I've pondered over the last year or two that I'm hoping to get some discussion on:
- How might ESNs plug into a formal process? I never got a Six Sigma black belt, but I did get a green belt and also a graduate certificate in Applied Statistics, so I know Lean/Six Sigma is for the most part very good at optimizing processes. But many formal business processes don't account for all the exception handling and "running around to make things work" that often goes on under the covers and beyond the radar of the executives who monitor those processes. So how do we tie networks into formal linear processes, something like this ...
... where a step in a formal process might branch off into a collaboration environment for a discussion and consensus decision, then picks up where it left off with the appropriate information being transferred back into the process to continue the step-by-step processing?
- I have spent a lot of time studying "lessons learned" in organizations and in fact wrote a research paper on the topic several years ago. It's one of my favorite topics because it is so paradoxical -- so many companies want to capture lessons learned but fail miserably at learning from them. Why is that? Why is it so hard for an organization to learn from its mistakes? ESNs, especially those where a large percentage of employees are working out loud, can provide the "raw material" for lessons, but those lessons need to be structured in a way that makes them easy to find and to understand. I think Jive is heading in that direction with its structured outcomes -- the ability to mark content as correct, final, official, obsolete, etc. But how might we go further and mark some items as "lessons" that then become a collection that can easily be compressed, categorized, indexed, searched, etc.?
Just throwing out a couple of ideas to ponder ...