I am writing this because I was recently asked by a KM technology vendor how they could be more successful with their platform and I thought the response would make a good, quick blog post.
My answer was that it is difficult to sell knowledge management technology because the platform, unlike other technology platforms, has to appeal to users so it has to be well organized and designed and consider functionality and usability issues; and it has to appeal to IT departments, so integration with other applications, cost, installation, support, and maintenance are prime considerations.
Why do I say that unlike other platforms it has to appeal to users and IT? Because unlike other platforms people will generally find a way around using KM technology if they can–they’ll use email, or shared drives, or just won’t share their knowledge and expertise. If it’s an accounting system, they have to use it, if it’s a time tracking system they have to use it, so bad user interface designs and functionality survive because users have to use those systems to get their jobs done. All too often KM is viewed as a “nice to have” not a “must have” and the challenges of picking the best technology to support it are ignored, in favour of “this one’s cheaper” or “this is from a vendor we already have a relationship with” or some other such cop-out.
So what do you do in this situation? Customize the pitch depending on who you’re talking to.
Picking up from the idea of art as a metaphor for knowledge management…
Could we use the creation of art to demonstrate the importance of knowledge management? Yes, I think so, I think it might make workshops more enjoyable and lead to better outcomes.
Would doing some right-brain activities possibly help the left-brain do its job? Probably, it seemed well accepted at the conference that both right-brain and left-brain are necessary for innovation, i.e. the diverge/converge cycle.
What shape all of this takes in the Knowledge Management Consulting I do remains to be seen, but I am quite excited by the possibilities.
P.S. two last things from MindCamp:
- I met Dimis Michaelides of “The Art of Innovation” there and loved the workshop and simulation he did.
- I also met Whitney Ferre of Creatively Fit and loved the workshops that she did as well as the time I spent talking with her outside of the formal sessions
Whether either of them know it they provided pieces to the puzzle for me to discover the intersection of art and knowledge management, thank you both of you!
Okay, so back for part 2 of Creativity and Knowledge Management, picking up where we left off.
We were talking about left-brain and right-brain and the different KM activities that fit in each area, and that’s fine, but what about right-brain activities that aren’t knowledge management activities that use knowledge management activities in their creation?
For example, one of the experiential exercises we did at the conference was recreating stylized watercolours of a frog and a spider. We each got a piece of the picture, which had been cut up into squares and we had to reproduce our square onto a bigger, rectangular piece of watercolour paper. Both the squares and the rectangles were numbered on the back, which made putting them together again easy. This was collaborative, it used meta-data (the numbers on the back) and we had the opportunity to go back and add additional detail to any of the pieces after we’d seen them all put together–all KM activities, but with art as the content matter.
Are there other KM activities that could be demonstrated through art? Lessons Learned? Peer Assists? Content and Document Management? Communities of Practice? Innovation?
So art becomes a metaphor for knowledge management.
Next post…Creativity and Knowledge Management, part 3