2Know Magazine: Sharing KM Knowledge
2Know: Sharing KM Knowledge
February 2013 - Magazine No. 161
February 2013 - Magazine No. 161
Edition:
Written By Maya Fleisher

Let me start off with two personal details about myself:

  1. I have lived in Tel Aviv all my life and have been driving my own car for over six years. Despite the parking space hardship and traffic jams I have always preferred a vehicle than public transportation, even when a bus is available right under my house.
  2. I enjoy social networks. More as a viewer and reader than a sharer and publisher. I have nothing against those, on the contrary: I learn a lot from what others share, it's just that I'm not so sure that what I have to say is so interesting.

And what do these two facts have to do with each other?

My car's yearly check up arrived precisely on the day I was supposed to meet clients out of town. I was forced to use the public transportation and thus felt lost. Luckily, my Smartphone and search abilities assisted me in discovering a new Social Network mobile application named Tranzmate (Moovit) that offers detailed information on any transportation-related subject. It is possible to find  information including: how to get from one point to another, a detailed description regarding the location of the bus stop and how to get to it, when the bus is expected to arrive, and a waking route from the moment you get off the bus till you arrive at your designated destination. Furthermore, the application is a Social Network for sharing relevant knowledge. The user can share and report the situation in the field: the bus is running late, the bus/ bus station is crowded. The user can rate the driver and bus safety and hygiene level.

There are many available applications that offer and are based in social sharing (such as the popular Waze application). The fact that I am not a social sharer (as mentioned above) rather more a spectator made me think: why do some people share and others don’t? Why do people share via Social Networks than "professional networks" at the work place? What do we gain by this? And should I personally change my habit, i.e. share more? And where more: the social or professional networks?

While pondering on the subject, I read an article written by a KM manager from IBM titled: Why Do I Share My Knowledge?

 

Here's some point to ponder on which I think are worth sharing:

During the last few decades society has been raised on the sentence "knowledge is the power" and if we let go of the knowledge, we lose the power. Nevertheless, the will to connect, to belong and cooperate with people through Knowledge Sharing is part of human nature and luckily society is being proven wrong: on the contrary, Knowledge Sharing is power. This is increasingly proven by today's Social Networks-sharing empowers the citizen, the consumer, as well as the layman by providing a suitable platform for expressing ideas and thoughts and receive responses quickly.

The professional field: "sharing=helping"

According to the article, the main reason people share knowledge at the workplace is that they view the sharing as a reputation-enhancing gift; my personal feeling as a person and a worker and knowing that by sharing the knowledge I contributed to my peers and workplace, is an uplifting that enhances one's self esteem and sense of belonging to said workplace.

There just might be something spiritual about this ordeal: we all want to eternalize our memory, to leave some sort of legacy after we are long gone (from the workplace). Undoubtedly, to be active in a Social Network will leave something, at least a few pictures. Creating a professional legacy, on the other hand, that will contribute to the workplace and workers year ahead, has great value. I decided to share more with my colleagues.

 

Maybe the phrase "smile and the world will smile back at you" applies to sharing as well: "share and the world will share with you".

What do you think?

In my work with organizations and administrations the issue of measuring the world of Knowledge Management is raised occasionally. How can we measure the success of an organization's Knowledge Management? Some argue that measuring in this field is merely a rating of quality (and not quantity) and that any success in the organization is due to numerous factors and not necessarily the world of Knowledge Management.

That's why I was glad to know the new standard and why I think it is important to introduce it as a measuring tool that can assist us in establishing, developing and promoting the world of Knowledge Management in an organization.

 Standard SI25006 is an Israeli standard of Knowledge Management for organizations. What need does the organization have with a standard, and measuring at all, during the establishment stage?

 

The standard represents the 'compass' of Knowledge Management; the manager will know the definition of the conduct of an organization "perfectly". Its chapters, as a result, represent aspects and dimensions that should be taken into consideration when diagnosing the state of the organization, specifically in the field of Knowledge Management.

 

 If we examine the standard we will realize that its components can be used not only as a means to receive approval (and the standard itself) rather as a guide for improvement, and as a tool for initial KM diagnosis of the organization.

 

Obviously, this does not mean checking, during the first stage of the examination, of all the standards detailed requirements and the organization's conformance. It rather means sticking to the spirit of the standard, its chapters and components.

How is this actually done? Through a double examination: one is a "direct" examination of the business needs that Knowledge Management will address, the other is an examination of the supportive infrastructure (culture, technology, management commitment, etc.) of the Knowledge Management state in accordance with the spirit of the standard and its chapters.

 

What do we gain from this?

The gain from this process is threefold:

  1. Examining the needs will be performed according to a standard, promising a path towards KM excellence while designing the KM organizational roadmap.
  2. The measurement enables a connection to the organization's business strategy.
  3. The Knowledge Management activity will be standard-oriented. This will make actually receiving the standard easier.

 

Some organizations have already been examined and certificated according to the standard. It is especially recommended to consider transferring to a new conception for those who are making their first steps in organizational Knowledge Management or analyzing the needs of a specific unit.

 

The future is here.

Written By (Staff) Liron Regal

Many people have heard of the famous wiki Wikipedia, which allows any person to learn about nearly any subject imaginable as well as contribute personal knowledge. Thus each of us can (theoretically) become the implementer of this wonderful idea of information sharing, contribute and gain from this process of individual and group enhancement.

Yet the wiki has many additional uses; it is far more than a platform for a data dictionary (elaborate as it may be). The wiki can be utilized for sharing knowledge and information within the organization. Let's begin with a short introduction on the wiki and its basic features and abilities.

 

What are the abilities of the Wiki?

  1. Editing using a browser-Wiki allows anyone to edit a text without requiring any previous knowledge or performing preparatory installations. The editing in Wiki is simple, easy and accessible to anyone from anywhere.
  2. Abstract syntax: easy and simple in comparison to other syntax (such as HTML). The simplicity of Wiki commands enables creating links and design commands relatively easily.
  3. Retrieval: any change or edit to the text is saved in the Wiki system, enabling retrieval of previous versions. This is useful, for example, in case vital content was deleted. Wiki also supports an option to compare the versions.
  4. Free unlimited access: anyone can perform n edit or change. Nevertheless, there is a restriction option (if needed).
  5. Teamwork: Wiki supports collective editing and joint construction of content. Furthermore, many Wikis allow the establishment of communities, discussion rooms, and change summaries and 'last insertion' lists.
  6. Hyperlinks: pages in the Wiki will always be intertwiningly linked with other pages. Creating a hyperlink is easy and comfortable for the Wiki user. These links allow a semantic navigation throughout the Wiki. Therefore, many of the links are bidirectional.
  7. Search function: an additional access-to-information tool.
  8. Content uploading: Wiki supports uploading contents such as pictures, files etc.

 

What are the possible advantages of implementing Wiki in the organization?

  1. Wiki reduces the time spent on teaching new workers-the Wiki can be used as a learning platform for a new worker. The Wiki does not require previous knowledge in order to operate it and navigate through it. The easy operation enables every worker to get acquainted with the knowledge in his/her own pace. Furthermore, if the worker needs to refresh his/her knowledge, the worker can review and update.
  2. Creating a culture of sharing and knowledge: The Wiki enables increasing the personal involvement of the worker in the organizations ordeals and especially allows each user to voice his/her opinion and contribute individually. Wiki "breaks" the traditional organizational "down-up" hierarchy and provides everyone with the option to contribute from a standpoint of equality (in accordance with the relevance of the position and professional knowledge) in the team.
  3. Everybody is familiar with it: Wikipedia's popularity and widespread use contributes to the feeling of comfort when using the Wiki in an organizational environment. The Wiki technology is mainly known to the average worker and the need for learning, comparing to other share-supporting platforms is substantially reduced.
  4. A central experts' database: a popular term used nowadays is "The Wisdom of the Crowds. This term implies that the wisdom of the crowd is in some aspects greater than the individual expert. The wiki allows any knowledge expert in the organization to contribute to the database. The knowledge will therefore be the fullest and most updated information possible.
  5. "Sterile experimentation": in organizations interested in initiating a KM project using high-budget KM programs, the possibility to test the level of cooperation of the organization workers and their level of willingness to implement this sort of project can be tested in the wiki, which is relatively cheap to assimilate. Following this field experience, it will be easier to implement the material in more sophisticated systems.
  6. A solution for the information overload in some workers' inbox: the average workers' email inbox has become a battleground in the war against information overload. The constant flooding in mails and the need to tag, organize and distribute tasks can consume much of the worker's valuable time. Furthermore, following the document or most updated version can be challenging. Wiki solves this problem-the ability to publish a draft publicly for everyone to view ensures that the version worked on will always be the most updated version and that when the collective work is completed we will be able to "publish" the final version.

 

How can Wiki be implemented in an organizational KM project?

  1. Asking the right questions: the first stage of implementing Wiki is a correct identification of the knowledge missing in the organization; for example, knowledge repeatedly created in different departments due to unawareness is a time consuming problem and a waste of effort.
  2. Choosing the suitable Wiki: adapting the organizational need to the type of Wiki. There are nowadays many types of Wiki available (Semantic Wiki, in which information is tagged by using formal terms that can be retrieved and searched, organizational Wiki, Wiki that incorporates a database, Wiki shared via organizational platforms and many more). When choosing a Wiki the organization must consider: who will be the users, what is the required level of security, what is the range of future usage of the Wiki and the information constructed in it, etc.
  3. The Wiki's initial implementation environment: should the Wiki be implemented gradually, beginning with a departmental pilot and then distribute it on an organizational level, or start from the latter?

 

A suggestion for implementing Wiki- a database containing shared documents as a substitute/support for the organizational server:

Many organizations use an organizational server as space for storing documents such as procedures, forms etc. This can lead to several problems, such as:

  1. It is impossible to know who wrote the file.
  2. Besides the 'last modified' date there is no way to follow the development of changers in the document.
  3. It is impossible to see previous versions of the document.
  4. The files are usually organized by name, which is not always enough to indicate what the document contains.
  5. It is easy to delete without anyone knowing the document was deleted.
  6. In case comments or collective work on a document are required-this will sometimes require downloading the document to the user's PC, to assimilate the changes, to save them, to send the result to be validated and even print the document in order to work on the changes together. This method doesn't enable following versions and developments of documents and leads to a complex document database difficult to navigate through.

 

On the other hand, When using wiki:

  1. There is no need to save ten versions of the same document every time it is updated. There is no need to create a long list with the same document named slightly differently (or numbered).
  2. Every change is documented and contains details on its performer, the nature of the change, date. Also, a notification is sent after every change is performed.
  3. The search is performed not only on the document name but also its entire text.
  4. It is possible to add comments. This option enables conducting a discussion regarding changes. No need for workers mailing each other back and forth.
  5. Authorization is required in order to delete documents.

 

Beside these advantages, using Wiki has some disadvantages that should be considered as well:

  1. Data Protection: the Data Protection options in Wiki are limited in comparison to those of other programs. Nevertheless, a concise publishing and writing policy, publishing Date Security procedures and an ongoing content regulation can assist in enforcing this issue.
  2. A different exposure to Wiki: it is possible that not all company workers know how to operate a Wiki, or know of it on different levels. They may therefore require a learning process. It is important to examine the worker's levels of knowledge and manage a suitable learning solution in order to ensure successful implementation of Wiki in the organization.
  3. The flexibility of tagging: the problem here is that each person tags differently and uses different words when tagging. This can make locating information in the Wiki quite difficult. This problem can be overcome by providing a defined tag dictionary.
  4. Limited editing options.
  5. There is no search option regarding related documents linked to the Wiki.

 

Conclusion:

The wiki as a tool of information sharing in an organization has many advantages; its easy learning and operating features make it quite the intuitive tool for the worker. Nevertheless, we must take into consideration the organizational needs and the importance of Data Security and data wandering throughout the organization. We must also prepare the organization before implementing the Wiki in the organization and test their level of willingness to share the information in order to identify what obstacles lay in our path.

 

References:

http://www.schaffert.eu/wp-content/uploads/schaffert06_ikewiki.pdf

http://lpis.csd.auth.gr/mtpx/km/material/JKM-13-4b.pdf

 

Written by Rom Knowledgeware
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