The Information Lifecycle

It has been a while now that I talked about my experience of putting incentives for KM initiatives in place. These thoughts are very valid for global activities, though we are starting in our company to look at a second approach: implement knowledge sharing in people’s daily activities without imposing additional work. With the right setup people will be self-motivated to engage in knowledge management.

The base for this approach is to look at the ‘Information Lifecycle’, how is information created from first drafts to published final documents. I would like to suggest four high-level steps for the discussion here: from a person to a team, to a community to the entire “public” (e.g. all employees in a company).

In order to illustrate the steps above let me describe what I mean with an example of project information. Typically a project starts with the work of individuals; they write down drafts of project descriptions, collect relevant information, etc. These information is then shared with the project team and in a common effort is further developed. When the team is ready to share their results to stakeholders, it starts to share the fruits of the project to a larger community; this for example could be test users, industry experts, and project clients. Once the deliverables are finished they will be published to everybody in the company our even to the general public. This example is rather generic and I hope you agree that it could apply to must work activities.

Let me share my thoughts on these four steps and how they relate to knowledge management.

  1. Personal Information: individuals are always at the root of information creation and we all have our ways to manage our documents, bookmarks, contacts, emails, etc. Related to this is Personal KM which is a hot topic; Patti Anklam puts it in the right words (Update: quoting Dave Pollard):
    KM shifts from ‘content & collection’ to ‘context & connection’; in this sense, all KM needs to think about personal KM at the center.
  2. Team Information: either we talk about project or functional teams, in both cases collaboration is very intense. Especially globally spread teams have the challenge of how to exchange their thoughts, findings, and how to co-develop their deliverables in real-time.
  3. Community Information: we could think about community of practice for this step but I would prefer to take it broader and put the community in the light of corporate social networking initiatives. Here we communicate with people that share similar interests and might be experts in the same field. This audience is excellent to provide feedback and input to our daily work.
  4. Public Information: in this context, the challenges are a bit different; only few project results need to be published to everybody, and most deliverables are not necessarily exposed to the public. Though project results might be eminently important to other project teams which work on similar topics; they can learn from best practice and avoid to repeat mistakes. Plus, experts outside the regular community might provide valuable feedback which can be used for future projects.

Based on these thoughts, I think that looking at knowledge sharing activities from the perspective of the information lifecycle can provide a new spin to KM in total. The knowledge workers don’t need a motivation from outside but rather contribute through their daily work.

To make this work, a few elements should be considered:

What is your experience in integrating knowledge sharing activities in people’s daily work?

4 Comments so far

Patti Anklam

Thanks for the nod, but to set the record straight: the “context and connection” quote is from a KMWorld preso by the always thoughtful and articulate Dave Pollard

And: your post puts me in mind of a metaphor that Hubert St Onge introduced me to: that of the ‘front porch’. As individuals working in teams develop content it is at first hidden ‘inside the house’ but they might put some notices outside, on the ‘front porch’ to let people know what’s going on inside. As they become more confident that what they are working on is valid, and ready to share, they move more and more out there to the porch.

Posted on May 30, 2011 at 08:34 PM | Comment permalink

Tim Wieringa

Dear Patti

Thank you very much for the metaphor of the ‘front porch’; this is very true and I can only subscribe to this - great input!

Sorry for my sloppiness of my quote reference; I did not intend to undermine Dave Pollards thoughts; though, I think the major part of the quote is coming from you (I assume) wink


Posted on May 30, 2011 at 09:41 PM | Comment permalink

Samuel Driessen

Interesting post, Tim. I’ve been think and blogging about this topic as well. I see most knowledge management initiatives paying little attention to the personal side.
Dave Pollard is definitely one of the people that inspires me wrt PKM. Harold Jarche is another I’d like to mention.
If you can’t relate KM to personal KM and support people in their daily work, be aware that most employees will just shrug their shoulders and carry on with their work.
I don’t know if I agree with the ‘one tool’ for personal use. Can’t it be a set of tools pieced together in the way employees want? And doesn’t public also extend to outside the company (public to the whole company and to the world)? Relating external and internal networks.
Hope this helps.

Posted on June 24, 2011 at 07:43 PM | Comment permalink

Tim Wieringa

Dear Samuel
Very helpful comment, indeed, and I would like to mention Ron Young besides the people you have mentioned. He just reminded me this week on the four levels of KM; and yes, the external world is one as well, totally agree.
Regarding ‘one tool’, I would say that it helps if people have one interface to follow the entire lifecycle. It might well be that there are different systems which are well integrated.
Cheers Tim

Posted on June 24, 2011 at 08:09 PM | Comment permalink

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