Bringing Knowledge, Relationships, and Experts Together in the Enterprise

5 thoughts on “Bringing Knowledge, Relationships, and Experts Together in the Enterprise”

  1. Luis, I want to comment about two specific topics.

    The first concerns the focus on knowledge workers.

    The second concerns the question of where to start.

    KNOWLEDGE WORKERS

    I don’t agree that in the development of a system to make it easier to locate and contact experts within an organization that the focus should be primarily on “knowledge workers.” Whatever the employee’s role, sooner or late a problem will arise that could be solved with the aid of an expert. This is going to happen whether the employee is a senior white collar manager, a shop floor shift supervisor, a service truck dispatcher, a lab assistant, or a call center rep. Nor is it safe to assume that the expert will be what we would consider to be a “knowledge worker.” (Given the pervasive nature of computer and information technology in all aspects of modern life, I am of the opinion that the term “knowledge worker” has a distinct “20th century” ring to it.

    WHERE TO START

    You suggest that one possible place to start will be a “social network analysis.” While I must plead ignorance of the term and what it represents, I’m not sure I agree that that is a good place to start. I would start by idenfying the company’s business strategy and how it supports this business strategy via key functions and activities. It is expertise about these key functions and activities that needs to be identified and managed.

    I’m not saying that social relationships are unimportant. I’m just saying that an initial effort must be made to define as a baseline both a high level map of the knowledge needed to run the company — tied to the work that must be done to run the company — followed by a first cut at the identification of key experts in each of these knowledge areas.

    Social relationships and patterns of communications and influence will come into play later on as initial baseline experts identify additional expert through a nomination and ranking process.

  2. Thanks a lot, Dennis, for the feedback comments. Great input !

    RE: Knowledge Workers, I am not sure we are using the same definition of that term. I have actually always used it based on the traditional concept that has been made available as well over at Wikipedia. A knowledge worker to me is everyone who has got a need to process and deal with knowledge, regardless of the area they may well be. So that basically means that everyone who accumulates and works with knowledge is for me a knowledge worker. And their position does not really matter. That is why even experts, perhaps even more so, would be considered knowledge workers to me, too. I don’t think I would ever feel comfortable restricting the knowledge worker role to only those who are doing some work related to KM areas. That is, indeed, far too restricting.

    RE: Where to start,

    “I would start by identifying the company’s business strategy and how it supports this business strategy via key functions and activities. It is expertise about these key functions and activities that needs to be identified and managed.”

    Yes, certainly that is a good point but let’s discuss this further. At the point in time where we are now wouldn’t you think that by now most of the businesses out there would have their own strategies already piled up and ready to go? I mean, unless it is a newly formed company I can imagine that they would have their own strategy in place already and if they do not I bet they would be in big trouble. So I think that we could just let go by that part and focus on the expertise and about those key functions and activities. And this is the case where a SNA would be a good start because with it you would be able to identify where those experts are in the organisation and how things happen around them. So you would be able to find out what key functions they are executing, what activities they are involved with, what types of connections they have in place not only amongst themselves but also with other coworkers, etc. etc. Have a look at the Wikipedia entry on SNA for a more detailed description.

    “Social relationships and patterns of communications and influence will come into play later on as initial baseline experts identify additional expert through a nomination and ranking process.”

    Indeed, you are absolutely right on this, but again, if it is not for a newly formed business I would have serious doubts from whatever other business who would have to go through those steps at this point in time. That means that rather they are in trouble or that they are going through some major reorg. I think that pretty much every single company by now has got that strategy put in place and functioning quite happily. However, some of them may be lacking the second part: the study of those social relationships and patterns of communications to help enhance the way people share knowledge and collaborate with one another. What do you think ?

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