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Davenport on personal information and knowledge management

Reading Stephanie Carlin’s overview of a talk by Tom Davenport at APQC KM conference (via Bill Ives)… Some interesting points:

Why the idea of managing personal information to transform KM will take off:

  • information overload becomes a problem (hmm, there is an alternative opinion 🙂
  • “thanks to the Internet, Google, and other knowledge resources, there are greater expectations for information access”
  • “because of self-service strategies employed by many large organizations, employees often feel they are on their own”
  • “devices and tools for personal information management are multiplying, and they do not always integrate well with other knowledge tools in an organization”

There are three levels of activity in companies in personal information and knowledge management (based on talking to 21 managers of information and knowledge)

  • already there – “these corporations realized that individual productivity was important and were using technology to enhance personal information and knowledge. Moreover, they also focused on strategies to increase use and change behaviors”
  • on the road – “These corporations relied on technology to manage personal information and knowledge management, but did not focus on changing behaviors to improve the way people manage their information. Although they recognized personal information management was important, they were often consumed with other issues, such as platform integration or technology conversions.”
  • not much on the horizon – little awareness or activity

What are leaders in this first level doing to successfully manage personal information and knowledge? Not surprisingly, many of these leaders are information technology companies that rely heavily on the use of emerging technologies such as instant messaging, personal data assistants, and shared repositories. Within these organizations, there are often individual-oriented support groups that exist with a holistic focus to personal information and technology. In addition, companies successful at managing information have defined productivity initiatives underway and an explicit knowledge management focus internally.

Issues that needs to be addressed:

  • focus of personal information and knowledge management: on jobs, a single process, or key tasks?
  • difficulty of measuring beyond “time saved”
  • “although many companies implement self-service strategies to encourage workers to be more resourceful in managing everything from benefits to vacations, it is worth asking whether they are really making life easier and saving time”
  • “finding the right way to change behavior is important. Specifically, personal information management needs to be integrated in the day-to-day workflow of a typical worker, and this may require behavioral changes. Whether through technology, education, or coaching, it is important to identify the right way to influence behavior in an organization.”

Results of survey of using technologies to process work-related information: 3 h 4 min a day average and lots of other numbers. And:

It is interesting to note, said Davenport, that coping strategies are not necessarily sophisticated. When users are asked directly what they would change in their information environment, the majority of respondents said they “did not know.” Others said they would not change anything, and a third group reported they would like to eliminate “junk mail and Spam” from their e-mail accounts. This reveals that most individuals either do not acknowledge a problem with their information environment or simply do not know how to begin to make a positive change.

Those who developed successful coping strategies:

  • use a few devices as possible, but learn their capabilities well; resist temptations of moving to new tools
  • invest time managing information on a weekly basic (e.g. “cleaning up” and organising their stuff)
  • get instructions in searching

And a bit more:

How can organizations put personal information and knowledge management to work? Individuals need to recognize how much of their time and productivity is tied up in personal information and knowledge management. At the same time, companies need to realize that their workers are wasting a lot of time trying to manage personal information and that better personal information and knowledge management means greater organizational success. Vendors will also play in integral role in successfully managing personal information and knowledge. In terms of technology, vendors provide “features and functions but not reliability,” which Davenport described as “the biggest waste of our time.” Also, vendors need to do a better job integrating tools and technologies within a corporation and provide training and education on effective use of these tools. Finally, all companies need to provide more instructors, role models, and insights on how to manage personal information and knowledge.

Interesting… My few cents:

1. Would like to know what are the companies that do it already. If you know some, please, let me know 🙂

2. Based on which criteria people with successful coping strategies were identified?

3. Here is comes again – lack of distinctions about information and knowledge, information management and knowledge management 🙂 So at the end the data from study of personal information management is used to make conclusions about personal information and knowledge management (I know that disctinctions are difficult, but still mixing is not such a good idea).

4. I guess the main challenge is that people do not feel a need to change or do not know how to do it. So, it’s not even about behaviours, it’s about awareness and motivation…

Archived version of this entry is available at http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2004/07/23.html#a1301; comments are here.

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