A recent post by Jeff Jarvis titled “The Book Is Dead.Long Live The Book.” reminds me of the shortcomings of Enterprise 1.0 systems for managing knowledge. Centralized, monolithic KM systems have failed and will continue to fail for some of the same reasons as print. Documents that go in and come out of Enterprise KM systems are similar to pages in a physical book. I am using “Enterprise CMS” interchangebly with KM systems in this post (which I hate to do usually). Here are a few quotes from Jeff Jarvis’ post on Books and my comments on how they map to KM systems in vogue.
- “They are frozen in time without the means of being updated and corrected” – This is true of many Enterprise CMS as well. The means to update and correct are there but it is just not straightforward. Wikis make this seamless. Enterprise 2.0 defreezes knowledge.
- “They have no link to related knowledge, debates, and sources. They create, at best, a one-way relationship with a reader” – In most cases documents in ECM systems are standalones. They may link to other static documents. Very rarely are these documents available with all the context( for example related mails,instant messages etc.,). They don’t allow the user to create his own context-This is crucial for sensemaking to happen. Most of the focus upto this point has been on discoverability of knowledge.Once I have a document of interest what is it that I do? I may want to co-edit it, take notes, annotate it and publish it. It is in this churn that knowledge generation happens. Enterprise 1.0 has ignored this to a large extent. Getting the “document” (akin to a page in a physical book) to the user is not the end of the game. Social Software is needed to create the churn – the ability to bookmark and share,link,annotate,re-purpose,publish and make sense. Permalinks & Blogs,Activity Based Computing(Hannover) and services like Foldera,Google Notebook,Delicious may help. Enterprise 2.0 enables knowledge churn & flow.
- “They carry no conversation” – Hugely neglected part of content management systems as well. Conversations are central to Enterprise 2.0 and incidentally knowledge resides in conversations. Conversations will help manage exceptions to processes,get things done,improve productivity and hence positively influence tool adoption.
As Jay Cross points out :
“In the days of solid-state knowledge, authors chose the patterns to present to readers. Now readers assemble their own patterns by plucking snippets of information flotsam and jetsom from the current flowing by. Instead of reading Charles Dickens, people want to dream up their own version of Charles Dickens.” (Thanks to gsiemens for pointing to this)
Jay Cross says we are witnessing a phase change in knowledge from soild-state to liquid. SoSo,IMHO may accelerate this knowledge phase change and also enable its flow across the organization. And the good news is many organizations are sitting on top of mountains of “solid-state” knowledge in KM repositories. Organzations which intelligently marry these with SoSo systems would reap the benefits. KM and Print are both grappling with phase change and SoSo may be the answer.