2Know Magazine: Sharing KM Knowledge
2Know: Sharing KM Knowledge
August 2014 - Magazine No. 179
August 2014 - Magazine No. 179

Let's start off with a personal survey: to which statement do you relate?

  1. Every article I read on the internet, I read in its entirety: from its beginning to its end.
  2. I usually enter the article, read the title, maybe the introduction. I then search for lines required in order to understand the bottom line.


If you found yourself choosing the second statement, you undoubtedly reassure the researches and surveys' results: people don't read articles, they skim through them.

Our skimming habits are understandable in light of the website inflation, the information overload and the lack of time.  When looking for something specific (and the article indeed interests us), the chances of us reading its entire contents rise.


What happens at our workplace?

Our skimming habits are copied to our work environment. With an overload of information, instructions, procedures and too many tasks to perform- the chance we actually read procedures/professional information is slim (even if their content is very important).

When working with different companies and organizations I am exposed to the amount of information daily written information distributed to the workers. Many resources are invested in writing these contents, in summarizing them as much as possible and transferring to them to the relevant workers hoping they read, comprehend and implement. Nevertheless, not all the information is read and is transferred to the workers as required.


So what do we do about this?

We must consider the users already at the stage of writing the content and give more 'space' for the user experience by making the content itself accessible.


How can we do this?

Hereby are some suggestions that may ease the reading and ensure that the critical message was indeed fully transmitted, including work procedures and work processes that contain much indispensable information:

  • Visual index: enables the reader to quickly understand what is to be found in this document and in the case of work procedures will provide the user with a document map that enables understanding the process simply. A smart document format provides an excellent solution for this need.
  • Colors, pictures & icons: colors, pictures and icons are everywhere and prove liveliness. Furthermore, the photographic memory assists us in remembering what we read or at least where we read it. That said, we must be cautious and not overload the document with colors. If we included colors or icons we must make sure that they are of the same 'language' and keep an overall clean visibility.
  • Short, categorized segments: it is easier and less intimidating to begin reading content divided into short segments than to read an entire page (if not more) full of text. Don't forget concise writing.
  • Attractive titles: generates interest and curiosity. Furthermore, it is recommended to use questions as a title according to the type of content and document type. This makes the user participate in a 'dialogue' with the document.
  • A "punch line": extracting the important "bottom line" as an introduction for the content so that even if the user doesn't read all the content we can still ensure that the main message is transmitted successfully. It is possible to extract one sentence and use it under the title 'in a nutshell' or up to 3 sentences as a brief summary of the content (relevant when most of the content cannot be summarized).
  • Spacing and pagination: simple and effective. The color white soothes the eye and eases focusing on differently colored content.


Bottom line

Organizational content (whether a procedure, a work process, instruction or even a newsletter) is important and is indispensable. If it could have been discarded-it would be advisable to indeed do so and spare the time and effort invested in writing the document. Nevertheless, the importance of the knowledge does not ensure reading it. We must assist the reader/create an engagement in order for the reading to actually happen. 

If you've reached this far, I hope you reached here by reading and did not skim your way through this article, thus proving I have successfully implemented my own suggestions.

I'd be glad to hear from you about other ideas or examples of cases in which designing helped transmitting the organizational and professional content.


Written By David Rozental

DSS: Decision Supporting System is a computerized information system that supports decision making processes in a business or organization. The system is meant to assist managers on the managerial, functional and strategic level in order to make ambiguous or somewhat ambiguous decisions, such as: decisions made in a setting of uncertainty, new decisions made by a manager without past experience with this situation, decisions that need to be made quickly or decisions that are made in a rapidly changing setting.

These systems include data and analytical models that enable discovering the behavioral principles in different environments, explaining different phenomena and predicting data analysis in environments in which there are nonlinear relations between variables.  The systems retrieve the gross data for its activity from other information systems installed in the organization and from other factors external to the organization. For example, they usually depend on financial data or news date retrieved straight from the portal websites such as the exchange rate and data concerning and changes in legislation. The system must act optimally in a dynamic, changing environment and there's a need for updating the system on an ongoing basis or changing the decision methods. Therefore, a DSS should excel in flexibility and interactivity.

The system supports the decision maker in the following ways:

  • Retrieving singular information items
  • Providing mechanisms for analyzing random data
  • Providing summaries of predefined data
  • Analyzing sensitivity and evaluating the results of suggested assumptions
  • Providing solutions.


What do we need this for?

DSSs assist managers in handling ambiguous situations or semi-ambiguous situations. They are characterized with high multidimensional analysis ability and as such assist managers in making different decisions. Most of the managerial work requires the ability to make decisions in high frequency concerning different subjects while limited by time and pressure. Examples for different activities that DSSs assist managers to perform include:

  • Searching for hidden patterns in large amounts of data
  • Focusing on relevant information in order to produce new information from existing data
  • Revealing trends and future behavior of clients
  • Addressing what-ifs
  • predicting clients' future behavior
  • Identifying potential markets
  • Forecasting occurrences and which populations will react similarly to different occurrences.

Furthermore, DSSs indirectly benefit the organization by:

  • Accelerating the decision making process.
  • Enhancing organizational control.
  • Encouraging the decision maker to conduct depth study and research.
  • Accelerating the organization's problem solving process.
  • Creating new evidence supporting the decision.
  • Gaining a competitive edge over competition.
  • Discovering new approaches to solve the problem.
  • Assisting in making the management processes automatic.


The connection to BI

Some scientists view Business intelligence as the heir to DSS. BI systems provide the user with the ability to retrieve information from a singular source or several sources. Furthermore, these systems enable retrieving the data in order to receive a report or graphic representation in a relatively easy manner and provide the user with the ability to perform multidimensional analysis. Furthermore, some perceive the implementation of BI as data oriented DSS groups. There are BI systems that include different processes such as internet network mining, data mining and statistical models.

While Business Intelligence is a category which includes a wide range of collection, analysis and storage implementations and technologies which provides access to information in order to assist firms to make better business decisions, a DSS is a applicable computer program which analyzes business information and presents so that its users can make better business decisions more easily.


Approaches to development and implementation

There is a theoretical possibility of constructing Decision Supporting Systems for every field of knowledge. One example of this is the clinical diagnosis CDSS: the Clinical Decision Support System. It is an interactive system meant to assist the doctor in reaching the correct diagnosis. These systems are a central subject in the field of Medical BI. In Israel, integrating DSSs into the health system is very common.

DSSs are extensively used in the world of business and management. EIS (Executive Information Systems) systems that were popular during the 80s and 90s of the previous century were replaced by EPM (Enterprise Performance Management) systems and the use of dashboards and horizontal toolbars. These systems enable quicker decision making, identifying negative trends and a better distribution of resources.



A recent trend that is here to stay is personalized knowledge access (usually in an organizational or professional portal). There are several ways to personalize knowledge access. These methods differ in their level of personal adaptation and users' activeness in the personalization process.

Before we introduce the "next generation" of personalization, we must first review its past:



Level of knowledge personalization

Level of activeness required from users during the personalization process

Personalization by position/target audience

Segmenting target audiences by position or other criteria (such as organizational unit). Each group is displayed personalized content. For example, some "messages and notifications" are relevant to the entire organization; some are only  relevant to a certain group. Each group is exposed to its relevant messages and notifications.


Depending on the segmentation criteria. When defined by position, the personalization level is high based on the assumption that everyone in this position require similar notifications. Personalization level is lower when segmenting by organizational unit as some messages may be irrelevant to each individual member.


Users are identified and automatically included into a defined group featuring automatically adapted content.

Access to personal data

Displaying personal data (such as payment and attendance) stored in operational systems

Very high


Users are identified by user names; knowledge is adapted automatically.

Personalized website/system screen  display design

Each user designs her/his own screen display. The levels of personalization include:

1.       Personally adapted component choice

2.       Personally adapted component display and arrangement

3.       Personalized color pallet


Medium or high, depending on displayed content

The user chooses which components to view as well as their display, manifesting a high-level of personalization. Yet some components may feature content irrelevant to the user and as such represent a medium level of adaptation.

Very high

Users are required to design their own screen

Each organization chooses which of the several knowledge personalization methods suits their organization's resources, organizational culture and business needs.

There is usually a positive correlation between level of personalization and the costs of technological development; most organization give up from the start. Furthermore, the more users are required to actively participate in the personalization process the more organization are hesitant to adapt the method due to fear of lack of cooperation on behalf of their employees or worse: losing control over the pushed content and their website's display.

While I understand these fears and have myself taken a more conservative stance only few years ago, I believe it's time to face it: the world has changed, and so have we. Whether it's the rapidly developing technologies or the unbearable knowledge overflow, the digital age involves us (whether willingly or begrudgingly) more active when managing our own knowledge.

One common web phenomena which is the "next generation" of personalization is Content Curation. Two leading social networks that implement this approach are Google+ and Pinterest. Content Curation is a process involving collecting, organizing and displaying content relevant to a certain topic or interest performed by its user. The users' activeness is therefore very high as is the level of personalization.

This might sound familiar. It should indeed, since Content Curation is practically an amalgam of all previous methodologies.

Well, you might ask, so what's new about this solution? Mainly the responsibility for Knowledge Management. The responsibility for Knowledge Management has been shifted to the users: "if you won't collect knowledge, you simply won't have knowledge". This approach implements an active learning process for employees searching for knowledge and generates organizational involvement.

How can this work in an organization?

The organization offers a uniform design frame in which users (considering some limitations) organize their content.

The organization offers the user content "Lego blocks", yet the construction is left in the users' hands. Organizations control the contents yet not their consumption. Consumption of varied content is encouraged, however, via various marketing elements meant to attract users.

No more complex characterization, sophisticated templates, notification components, Favorites lists, etc. Everything, in this sense, will be simplified.

I wish you luck.


Written by Rom Knowledgeware
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