A place to share ideas, thoughts,
best practices, and questions about KM in
a government environment
Social Media as a Component of KM
June 1, 2011 at 4:54 pm #131713
Lot’s of discussion in the GovLoop community about the correlation between social media and KM. In my experience, social media is a component of KM, but it is not equal to KM.
I have seen a LOT of different definitions of KM over the years. I will readily admit that my definition works for me, but it may not work for everyone. I’m not going to debate who’s definition is better. That debate has always felt to me like a great example of the story of the Six Blind Men and the Elephant, but so much of what we argue about is like that, isn’t it?
I will offer what my education and experience have taught me. I will give you a copy of my model. Then, I will leave it up to you to do what you will with the bundle. I hope you find it value-added.
Ten years ago, I graduated from one of the first KM graduate programs in the country. George Washington University started its KM graduate program in the School of Engineering. Dr. Mike Stankowski, the Dean of the School of Engineering at the time, deserves the credit for the model you will find on the KM Model Overview tab in my model.
I’ve taken that model into five different organizations, government and for-profit, to build KM programs in those organizations from scratch. In each case, it took me more than a year to walk senior leaders and middle management through the model – and in each case, the results were very different. The organization and the problem that the organization most wants to have solved determines what parts of the model get the heaviest emphasis, and what programs get implemented. I now assume that every implementation of KM is a custom job with the model as my guide.
I’ve also expanded on what GWU taught me. Practical application naturally has that effect. For example, I created a process flow (the tabs are meant to be followed generally from left to right), I ask specific questions, and I provide hints as to where I normally find what I’m looking for in a given organization.These hints were mostly for myself when I was facilitating.
I also adopted Steven Alter’s Work Centered Analysis (WCA) model (see the Five Perspectives tab) to help structure a discussion around the Enterprise Architecture portion of the Stankowski model. It’s generic enough to be useful, but I think any methodology – DoDAF, Zachman, or whatever model the person leading this portion of the KM project is most familiar with – should work equally as well.
Note: I have had to remain flexible when actually doing this with a live board of Directors. They don’t like to be put in a box or guided too strictly. Also, given staff resources and training within whatever organization you’re implementing can influence your modeling selections as well.
The important thing is to apply some discipline to the craft. In the model I use, I start with the inputs:
- What’s the enterprise? Define the boundaries and characteristics.
- What’s the value proposition? Get this from the organization’s leadership.
- What are the strategic goals? (make sure these are measurable, base-lined, and that they are created with the right players / buy-in)
- What intellectual capital do you have/need to manage in order to achieve the desired results?
Then we move into the process:
- Documenting balanced codification and personalization strategies and getting them published / implemented
- Identifying, documenting and leveraging the formal and informal organizational structure (KM-ers) will understand this concept)
- Identifying / adjusting / documenting / publishing / implementing the processes for managing information.
- Leveraging technology
Finally, we measure the outputs and adjust as appropriate.
I see social media playing a clear role in many parts of this model and a support role in others. For example, social media may take on the traditional “water cooler” role in the socialization strategy. It may do double duty in the codification strategy as long as information written down is properly tagged and easily retrievable.
Social media may enhance the actual KM program in other ways as well:
- It may help the KM practitioner collect the necessary input from distributed employees and leadership
- It may enhance the quality, in wiki fashion, of the input collected in the board room
- It may speed up the entire program implementation by allowing participants to work in an asynchronous way – and freeing the organization from the tyranny of formal schedules.
- It may provide the backbone for a corporate or Department-wide “information bus“
- It might provide a platform to host dashboards that show a mashup of data from distributed data sources
- <insert your own idea here>
More than Social Media
My point is that KM is a holistic art/science in my experience. There are at least four pillars of KM. Depending on who you ask, there may be more. The ones I’ve focused on are (see The Four Pillars tab in my model):
People trained in Organizational Development have come the closest I’ve seen to nailing the idea of KM. They have models that are very complex and range over just about every aspect of a KM program.
My advice is to embrace Social Media and put it to work in many different ways. Leveraged intelligently, it can be a welcomed force multiplier, and it can enhance a KM program in ways that we never had available to us before – and at a great price.
Do not, however, make Social Media synonymous with Knowledge Management. The work still needs to be done, and the “Rest of the story,” for you ABC and Paul Harvey fans, needs to be reveled.
Enjoy the model. I pulled out the organization’s name, but left some of the data. This organization doesn’t exist anymore – it was bought by General Dynamics – but I still like to protect their anonymity. If you download this to an IBM compatible machine, there are macros that work – if you enable them – to help you navigate the model. I put a bunch of buttons in there to help me get around quickly.
Shoot me a note if you have questions. I’ll help if I can.
August 17, 2011 at 11:52 am #131725
August 18, 2011 at 2:17 pm #131723
Interesting material.Thanks for sharing!
Government organizations often have trouble learning what they need to learn about their target audiences. What advice would you offer people who want to do market research online?
August 18, 2011 at 2:27 pm #131721
August 18, 2011 at 2:37 pm #131719
Great tools. I’ve used them with some success.
I’m wondering if there is a role for your content scraping tools in the identification and definition of an organization’s ideal customers.
Typically, we want to know as much as we can about the people we want to communicate with. Can we segment them by where they live (by region or by city, for example)? What their interests are? How they like to consume information? Who their friends are? etc…
August 18, 2011 at 3:49 pm #131716
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