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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Knowledge combinations in work

Not wishing to sound like a blues song, but I woke up this morning to listen to two commentators discussing the use of Facebook in the work place. The discussion seemed to veer between two extremes. 

My experience is that most people are sensible in their use of internet facilities and Facebook is another example of internet usage. Whilst I'm sure that some people may 'goof off' using the Internet, it makes me wonder whether an organisation is providing fulfilling work for people if they feel the need to use Facebook for such long periods of time. 

However not one of the commentators considered the case for internal  facebook style networking which I have discussed in previous posts.

Maybe we need to be intelligent enough  as an organisation to say that if people are using Facebook to access, say, a professional network for IT people, or say as a KM professional,  posting to get peoples views on a issue then it is a justifiable use; as ultimately it is of benefit to an employee and to the organisation, as it is helping to speed up the process of work by helping people tap into other peoples knowledge base. 

Perhaps if organisations treated their staff like professional adults rather than micro managing them and what they do, they will get the professional adult behaviour that their organisation needs.

Interestingly today I read a McKinsey report about connecting employees to create value in investment banks.

One of the problems that investment banks have is to leverage talent across the various business units that they have. However clients just as in other professional service firms are looking for services that are integrated and tap a variety of functions. 

The problem tends to be that organisations have departments that have grown so large and have their own targets to achieve, that they have frozen these departments into silos. By asking people to achieve short term targets or billable hour targets they have frozen out the possibility for people to develop true collaborative and professional networks.

Some organisations have tried to do this by combining parts of the organisation but that of course can be disruptive in terms of merging two cultures say a tax department with a corporate department in a law firm.

Another way that it could be done the article posits is the use of informal networks and utilising what I proposed at Wragges,     with the use of deep dive interviews to not only share knowledge but also to investigate the opportunities for possible collaboration and for creating innovative new services.

Another approach that was not considered in the article was the use of an internal Facebook style approach which, can help organisations to understand internal networks Another approach considered was by analysing the internal flows of e-mails to see who is connecting to who internally. 

All this is very good but I also discovered whilst carrying out my knowledge audit that one of the best approaches in identifying the internal networkers and they key people in them and especially the people who were in more than one group was by talking to people on the 'shop floor' and finding out who the key players are in the organisation. 

To assist the co-operation in terms of encouraging this it needs to ensure that it considers ways of developing initiatives to develop people who undertake horizontal promotions as a way of not only understanding the organisation better but also as a means of developing cross fertilisation. 

Another way is for the management team to look at ways that it can concentrate on themes that cross boundaries say no more than 3 - 5 with real economic benefits not only to the organisation but to the people in the group themselves. 

Organisations are, as I was reminded in this mornings discussion, profit making, not charitable, and knowledge sharing and encouraging these groups do need to have some economic benefit to the organisation or it's not worth undertaking it in work time.

These can have the benefit of not only sharing knowledge but also identifying talent throughout the organisation.

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