Friday, May 2, 2014

You can make your own Knowledge Accidents

Are Knowledge Accidents your business goal? Why not? Don't you want to help your teams perform better? Don't you want your customers to help you provide them with better products or services?

In looking into where this term came from I found this article from past CEO of Lotus, Al Zollar.

In the article, Lotus Development CEO Al Zollar says that knowledge management is simply to do with as applying technology to "knowledge accidents".
According to Zollar, "Knowledge accidents happen when people run into each other at places like this or at the water cooler, exchange information, and realise an opportunity for collaboration and a synergy between the projects they’re working on. We need to make knowledge accidents happen on purpose, regularly and, most importantly, with intent." 
This document, from a lotus ftp site, also has a introduction on this topic from Mike Zisman, then Executive Vice President of Strategy, Lotus Development Corporation.

The other day I bumped into a colleague who I hadn’t seen in ages. We were both on our
way to the Lotus cafeteria, so we took a few minutes to catch up on things. As she
described her most recent project, it occurred to me that I knew a few people at IBM who
were involved with a similar effort. I thought they’d make a perfect match, so I gave her
their names and wished her luck.
I like to call this type of unplanned meeting a “knowledge accident.” If you think about
it, this kind of thing happens all the time. People bump into each other at the water
cooler, or in the hallway, and they get to talking, and all of a sudden a valuable nugget of
information emerges. Maybe it’s a lead, or an insight, but either way it’s something that
can potentially improve the efficiency and effectiveness of any given business process.
There’s no doubt about it, knowledge accidents are a wonderful thing. The only problem
is that they’re random, so it wouldn’t make sense to use them for a serious growth strategy.
It would make sense, however, to turn the tables on knowledge accidents and make
them happen on demand in a controlled manner. This is what many companies are
currently doing, and it’s what Lotus and IBM consider the essence of knowledge management.
This was 15 years ago, KM was everywhere, and it has evolved though social and now seems to be rebounding back to collaboration. But that is not what this post is about.

After listening to Louis Richardson, Storyteller for IBM, today at IBM Impact it reminded me that what some say is luck, is just hard work paying off. If you put yourself in the right places, you will create your knowledge accidents.

The problem is, and Louis explained it well, is usually these accidents take place between 2 people, maybe 3 but not largely in mass proportions.

How do you change this pattern? How do you make what was found among friends, known among the masses?

For many years we had discussion threads, news threads, forums and numerous other places which we could discuss issues or ask questions and the Internet has not limited our reach. However, if you are working inside an organization that values proprietary knowledge, how do share that information?

Where is my Enterprise Twitter or Stack Overflow or x,y,z? Where is that open experience for anyone in your company to help you with your question? Is it truly open and proactively helping you create these Knowledge Accidents?

Or is just a bunch of disconnected services funneled through a portal that does not search across your whole network?

If you have set it all up, you would be part of only 36% of companies that have it already, based on a 2013 survey. For comparison, this CIO magazine article from 2008 claimed  69 percent of companies have less than half of their data discoverable by enterprise search tools.

We have a long way to go before your internal search is as good, let alone as great, as your external ones are from Google, Bing or whatever web crawler you prefer.

Over 15 years ago Lotus wanted to help you get to where the Internet has evolved. Sure the road was bumpy along the way, bandwidth, server processing, tools, apps, devices all had to catch up.

But we are here, now, and if you have not been on this road with us, where did your road take you? Did you reach the destination you hoped would be at the end of the journey?

I would like to help you on this journey because it is not about the technology, it is about your business goals.