Over the past four or five years, I’ve been observing a new sense of collaboration between technology “people” and KM “people.” Colleagues seem to be talking about this subject a lot, and there’s a general sense of agreement that the so-called “separation” between information technology and KM is breaking down. Indeed (in one example) some companies are re-naming the corporate intranet, now referring to that critical communication and knowledge-sharing tool as the “corporate KM system.”
And why not? We’re all trying to reach the same goal, aren’t we?
Inspired by this new approach (is it a trend? let’s not go that far – it’s a little soon to tell), I asked Johel Brown-Grant to tell us a little about his work. Johel is Assistant Dean of Instructional Technology and Media at the Columbia Journalism School in New York City and he recently added the M.S. in Information and Knowledge Strategy to his other degrees, including his Ph.D.
Here’s Johel’s guest blog describing some of the knowledge strategy approaches he’s using in the technology group at the Journalism School:
As the leader of the technology division of the Journalism School I have been working with my staff to pilot a small, but ambitious knowledge strategy to bring more efficiency to our division’s operations. The division is organized in three areas: information technology, broadcasting and multimedia, and educational technology. An initial knowledge audit revealed that the strengthening of certain areas in our operations would yield greater operational efficiency and this, in turn, would directly enhance productivity in our division and in the Journalism School at large (our long-term goal is to share the lessons from this implementation with the stakeholders of our school and hopefully replicate this strategy throughout the larger institution).
Our pilot knowledge strategy is based on two implementations, the capture of tacit knowledge and the share and transfer of knowledge.
In the first – the capture of tacit knowledge – we have focused on formalizing the documentation processes that exist in our division. By recognizing and declaring that documentation is an essential practice in all the departments of the division, managers are able to work with staff to integrate this practice into their daily routines. An important part of this process manager’s work is to document information about processes and procedures that are essential to the organization, or helpful to other departments in the division. In formalizing this approach to document processing, we are helping staff develop the habit of documenting innovative solutions to problems or difficulties that come up in the implementation of a process or repair. As part of this activity, we are documenting notes and agendas of staff meetings, creating a knowledge base that we will use to gauge our growth and progress over specific work cycles. Our benchmark for success will be a full integration of documentation in the routines of every staff person in the division.
In our second implementation we are establishing robust practices focusing on the transfer and sharing of knowledge, starting with a review of our on-boarding processes. Our goal here is to develop a series of activities through which new employees get important, just-in time information about their department and the division at large. This implementation grows out of two frameworks in our workplace.
Intradepartmental knowledge sharing
Strong technology implementations are based on robust redundancy processes, and we are using that same approach for the transfer and sharing of knowledge. As a result we are pairing up new employees with experienced staff members to facilitate the transfer of tacit knowledge. Our immediate goal is to enable new staff members to perform certain duties and functions if a staff member is missing.
Interdepartmental knowledge sharing
We are also working to improve the transfer and sharing of knowledge between departments in our division, with the goal of minimizing the development of a siloed or “stand-alone” mentality. To achieve this goal, we are promoting interdepartmental discussion and cooperation at all levels (not just among managers) and between staff members in the different departments. We base this effort on our belief that the more each department knows about the work and projects of the other, the more we can help each other solve problems. Where possible, we actively encourage the collaboration between staff members of different departments by highlighting their expertise in particular areas or fields of interest (as is often the case, even in small technology organizations, not everyone is aware of colleagues’ areas of expertise or special skills.) One of our goals here is to capture this intra- and interdepartmental expertise informally, so it can be shared with the organization at large.
- March 21, 2013