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Your job, km, and other people

One of the most thoughtful bloggers, Dave Pollard, on knowledge managemt (km) and adaptive learning has an interesting post. Here's an abbreviated version but do check out his full post. FWIW Dave's blog is loaded with great stuff on KM, so don't stop with he latest post.

"Embracing Complexity in Your Job".

"But even if I were to ask the internal and external 'customers' of my client what their information and networking and related technology needs were, they wouldn't know. It's the nature of complex environments that understanding of the 'problem' and potential solutions co-emerge from the exploration, discovery and learning process."

As a services provider, we almost always assume the problems customers face are well understood.  As Dave sez, "...they wouldn't know." However, as we identify one problem and demostrate a solution, other problems/solutions "co-emerge."


"Here's the methodology I'm trying out on the new [km] project:

  1. Identify the Customer:
    Determine who the internal and external 'customers' are -- how they can
    reasonably be segmented.
  2. Research & Observe: Study the status quo to understand what is really happening, what the real
    processes and workarounds are...
  3. Converse:Have lots of iterative discussions with different customer segments to clarify your understanding of what is happening and why. 
  4. Define and Articulate the Needs & 'Problems':Some of the emergent needs and problems will be personal, and you may be able to solve many of these just by observing, conversing, and providing the individual with your ideas and the benefit of your experience.
  5. Imagine Ways of Addressing These Needs and Problems: Now you have reached the real
    starting point: Not preconceptions and solutions looking for problems, but qualified, articulated needs and problems with no obvious solutions (if the solutions were obvious, someone would have done them already).
  6. Create a Future State Vision If Your Imagined Solutions Were Implemented:Tell a compelling story of how things could/would happen if the solutions you imagined in step 5 were implemented.
  7. Experiment and Prototype:Start small -- your imagined solutions will never be perfect, and small-scale experiments and prototypes will allow you to refine the solution before spending all the resources on an imperfect solution.
  8. Scale Up: Expand the pilot to all users who share the need or share and appreciate the problem."

This becomes a real problem for some of our clients, "...suppose you follow this methodology and discover (a) there are a lot of fledgling, disorganized, self-identified communities of practice and
communities of interest in (and extending beyond) the organization that need some enabling knowledge-sharing, context-building, sense-making and connectivity technology and processes to self-organize and function."

The question becomes how much access to "enabling knowledge" to give these communities, especially if they are outside of the organization?