a simpler approach to content management

I was recently asked what I thought about content management systems (CMS); how content should be developed; whether generational differences should be considered; and how to keep content relevant. The best example of a CMS is the Web. There is relevant and irrelevant content. The relevant content is often found through referrals. This may be in terms of ratings, curation by a trusted party, or from a known source. Referrals can be pushed, through something like a subscription service, or pulled from knowledge networks when there is an immediate need for information. People with more diverse and deep knowledge networks get better information.

So what does a CMS have to do with it? Not much.

I was also asked about the best ways for “creating and gathering internal enterprise content, organizing and maintaining that content and making it easily accessible to employees and other stakeholders”. The CMS does not really enable any of this. It’s all about people: those who seek knowledge, make sense of it, and share it. The better they do these three components of PKM, then the better content an organization will have. I have explained this in a simpler approach to knowledge management. It is also a simpler approach to content management. Just let people do it.

rp_simpler-KM-520x356.pngUsing the example of the web, enable all workers to use easy content creation and sharing tools. Put the internet inside the organization. Focus on removing barriers to knowledge-sharing, like Twitter. Nurture a culture of learning out loud, sharing knowledge like YouTube. Appoint staff to work as curators, like Wikipedia. Let people comment upon and rate content, like Amazon. Focus on the visual, like Pinterest or Instagram.

While good content management cannot be done without technology, it’s not about the technology. It’s 90% people.

9 Responses to “a simpler approach to content management”

  1. Richard Morris

    I work in a non-profit/charity that seeks to bring increased access to training and better training outcomes to isolated church and humanitarian groups around the world. Your point about content needing to be in an Amazon style presentation is very stimulating and would greatly help us connect essential content to the needs in isolated communities. We should not be deciding what good content is but let the users speak. My question is about what platforms (open souce preferrably) you are aware of that could provide a peer rated content delivery system.

    Many thanks for your continued stretching of my thnking.

  2. Koen Platteeuw

    Hi Harold,
    I can see the advantages of incorporating free tools that many staff members are already familiar with, like twitter, youtube, wikis, etc. It sure saves on the learning curve and getting people engaged.
    But your post seems to implicitly suggest a CMS is complex and is hard to use. This doesn’t have to be the case. Combine the best of both worlds and configure your open source CMS like Drupal or WordPress to integrate with these ‘low barrier’ tools. A good CMS is still crucial to tie all these tools (and content) together. The enhanced functionality of the CMS, like taxonomies & folksonomies will make a significant difference in terms of ‘findability’ of the content. You’ll agree that Enterprise Knowledge Management isn’t only about the most popular and most “shareable” content.
    Also, content creation/curation in an enterprise requires consistency (obtained through a good content strategy), even for its internal content, produced and curated by its own staff. That doesn’t mean it needs to be centrally controlled, but it does require mechanisms to manage it. If not we’re just creating “orphan content” that once outdated will become counterproductive.

    • Harold Jarche

      My observation is that individuals don’t care about the CMS. They need ways to create content, make sense, and share things easily. This is PKM. The organization can worry about content management, by curating what is shared by individuals, on their terms. On the graphic, the CMS can be the “org records” on the right. What connects these two is the ESN, where conversations happen. So it is not the CMS that connects, but the social network. The CMS is the system of record.


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