Most large organizations today have some suite of social tools to share information and knowledge. But how do they know if they have the optimum tools for their context? Too often the tools are selected and then the workers are left to figure out how to use them. Based on work with several clients over the past few years, I have identified seven essential facets for enterprise social networks. The objective of these networks should be to help to capture knowledge, encourage sharing, and enable action. This is the business value proposition implicit in these enterprise social networks: to make better decisions on which to take action.
There are three levels that must be aligned:
- empowered individuals
- appropriate tools
- organizational processes
Personal knowledge mastery (PKM) is a sense-making discipline. Individuals must be supported and allowed to develop personal methods to seek out, make sense of, & appropriately share their knowledge with their teams, in communities of practice, and with their professional social networks.
A suite of suitable tools is needed to support work being done in teams and groups. These tools must enable both cooperative and collaborative aspects of knowledge work. Cooperation is freely sharing without any expectation of direct reciprocity. This is how social networks operate. Collaboration is working together for a common objective. This is how teams work. Both are needed in the network era.
Cooperative aspects include: Curating information to add value, Communicating effectively in networks & communities, and Finding and engaging with knowledge networks. Collaborative aspects include: Coordinating tasks with minimal time & effort, Finding people best suited to solve a problem, and Participating in meetings for maximum impact & minimum wasted effort.
The organization needs to have processes in place that support these seven facets. Attention must also be paid to any systemic barriers to knowledge sharing and social learning. Tools and training are not enough.
This framework was developed with several clients and has had considerable input and feedback. Contact me if you would like an objective third-party examination of knowledge sharing tools and practices in your organization. Note that this is a guideline and not a recipe.