Off-Route, Recalculate

Over the weekend, I met a rather opinionated person.  (Although, perhaps it is overstating it a bit to use the word “person.”)  She was very insistent that we do things her way and really wasn’t open to a conversation about alternative approaches.  If we decided not to follow her advice, she’d repeat insistently, “off-route, recalculating, off-route, recalculating.”  As you’ve probably guessed, this “person” lived inside the car’s global positioning system.

As we plan and carry out our knowledge management efforts, it can be difficult to identify the correct route.  And, it can be unpleasant to be informed that we’re off-route and need to recalculate.  Many of us have taken the current economic situation as a call to recalculate our routes.  Unfortunately, given the extent of the economic turmoil, it can be hard to identify our alternatives and most of us are all too conscious of the pressure on us to get the route right.  Further, few of us have knowledge management GPS.  So what should we do?

We should be suspicious of anyone who purports to be able to provide specific advice, since the conditions in our various industries and within our own enterprises vary greatly.  However, there are some constants that we would do well to remember:

  • Achieving the greatest good for the greatest number has never been more important.  Don’t waste your time and resources on projects that have limited positive impact.
  • If you have the choice between a project that requires a great deal of KM maintenance and a project that allows the ultimate consumers of the information to maintain the system, choose the latter.  You’ll never have enough staff to provide adequate maintenance.
  • Even if you have a large, agile KM staff, it’s still better to choose projects that put end-users in touch with each other rather than projects that require KM intervention.
  • Focus on facilitating the easy exchange of current information rather than on archival efforts.

When you recalculate your route, be careful.  Choosing the right route could make all the difference.

[Photo Credit:  SonnyandSandy]

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10 thoughts on “Off-Route, Recalculate

  • May 4, 2009 at 3:46 pm
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    Another great post Mary!
    It makes sense to ensure you are 'on the right track' and focusing on areas that don't need a lot of KM intervention/management but instead are managed by the users. I am hoping my work on using Wikis to manage and distribute information will eventually follow the same route (pun intended :)) and become primarily managed by every staff member rather than KM/process people. It's a long journey but hopefully one that will bear fruit.
    /craig.

  • May 4, 2009 at 11:35 pm
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    Thanks for providing the link and explanation, Doug. I confess that when I first read your comment I was thoroughly puzzled. Now, having read the explanation, I understand.

    Perhaps it's a computer conspiracy?

    – Mary

  • May 4, 2009 at 11:39 pm
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    Thanks so much, Craig. It does sound like you're on a promising route. Social media tools deployed well should create the means for easier information transfer between end users without KM intervention. This is in keeping with our main job, which is to help the front line folks be the knowledge managers, just as Davenport and Prusak once recommended.

    – Mary

  • May 6, 2009 at 3:33 am
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    Very interesting. Mary. I have one of those people in my car as well, but my interpretation of her behaviour is slightly different from yours.

    For me, she is very good at applying all the information that she has (and I don't) about the road network (and some other points of interest) to help me get to the destination I specify. Occasionally I make a detour along the agreed route, but she is very amenable to finding a new way to get to the final destination. She also has an array of different ways to show the key information that I need, but she doesn't force me to choose any particular one of them (I can even see two different views at once if I want). Ultimately, her goal and mine are the same — to reach the specified destination. Otherwise, she is happy to respect the decisions I make about the position of the steering wheel.

    Sometimes, I need to change the intended destination. That is easily done, and all previous instructions are put aside without rancour. Her role, after all, is to support me in achieving my objectives.

    I must confess, I find her a very useful companion. I certainly couldn't have driven all the way to Italy without her help — no other navigator was available.

  • May 6, 2009 at 11:00 pm
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    Mark –

    It sounds like your GPS “person” is a bit more competent than the one I met in my friend's car last weekend. After being presented with several unattractive route alternatives during the trip, my friend actually turned her GPS off in frustration.

    Without a doubt, it would be wonderful to have highly-functioning GPS like yours when navigating KM's tricky waters. Where do we find one?

    – Mary

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