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Super User

1 April 2005
Omer Ben Yehuda

It's not a bird, it's not a plane! It's Super User!

Most of us are familiar with the term 'super user' from the world of IT, where it refers to the user with the maximal and unlimited authorizations to access all applications and parts of the system, including the programming level. This, however, is not the level we are dealing with.

There is another type of super user in the world of Knowledge Management that affects the system equally:

Most of us have encountered situations in which we find ourselves searching for information in the organizational portal and simply cannot find it. We then turn to someone, usually of a similar status, which we perceive as an "expert" on the portal and request his/her help. If we view the issue from the eagle's eye, we will discover that in most organizations, most workers turn to the same person. This is not a coincidence.

We can nearly always find in every technological system in any given work environment someone who naturally connects to the system, enjoys working with it and knows it better than everyone else. It is a natural and well known phenomenon in all fields. This is in terms of Knowledge Management the real super user, one whose power does not stem from authorization, rather his/her traits, personal inclination and enthusiasm. If this user exists somewhere in your organization, why not identify him/her and use him/her in order to implement the entire Knowledge Management solution?

In order to utilize this super user, simply follow the following steps:

  1. Turn him/her into an official instruction center- as part of fulfilling the worker's purpose he/she can guide groups and individuals.

  2. Enable him/her to provide support using sharing tools- managing discussion groups, responding to feedbacks, publishing FAQ etc.

  3. Publish his/her personal point of view regarding the system and its advantages in the organizational newspaper/newsletter or instructions so as for him/her to share his/her enthusiasm with others.

  4. Provide the worker with 'soft' rewards (reputation, appreciation) for using the solution and make him/her a positive example (like a scapegoat, only positive!).

  5. Learn from the worker how he/she uses the solution efficiently and share this with others.

Utilizing the user is a win-win situation: the organization benefits from implementing the Knowledge Management solution more successfully and the worker get a chance to express her/him, to contribute in a field he/she likes and to receive appreciation.

Nevertheless, it is important to remember that:

  • Each solution (usually) has its own super-user. We cannot necessarily use the same person in different systems.

  • You should not overload the super-user. This is an addition to an existing position, not a new job.

  • This is an additional implementation method, not an alternative for formal implementation.

So next time you suddenly see someone with a large S on his/her chest, don't be surprised: there is a new super user in the organization. Don't try to throw them out of the window; they haven't learned to fly yet.

A person wearing a red cape and glasses
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