Friday, February 04, 2005

NSW KM Forum - Telling it like it is

I went to the NSW Knowledge Management (KM) Forum for the first time last night. The night's presentation was by Dr Theresa Anderson and was titled "Telling it like it is: using ethnography and storytelling in the workplace".

I was a little worried that it would be highly theoretical and academic, but was pleasantly surprised by both Theresa's down-to-earth style and emphasis on practicality. I think, based on her description and the Q&A sessions we had, that ethnography is a philosophical approach that informs and directs other study, rather than necessarily an end in itself.

Wikipedia defines ethnography as:
Ethnography (from the Greek ethnos = nation and graphe = writing) refers to the qualitative description of human social phenomena, based on months or years of fieldwork. Ethnography may be "holistic", describing a society as a whole, or it may focus on specific problems or situations within a larger social scene. The genre has both formal and historical connections to travel writing and colonial office reports, but several academic traditions claim ethnography as a valid research method that submerges the subjectivity of a researcher in the routines of an alternative social environment to discover its specific and otherwise unpredictable patterns.
(emphasis mine)

We also undertook an interesting activity whereby we were each asked to identify the key challenge we are facing in KM, then with one other person explain to each other out challenges, and then take their challenge and explain it to the next person (a good way of getting you to think about their challenge seriously!). The aim was to develop some real-life situations for the forum to address this year, rather than theoretical topics. Some of the ones that were discussed:
* How do you demonstrate KM's value to senior management?
* How do you locate the right person for a specific topic/task?
* How can KM make my company more competitive?

Since then I've thought of some extra ones that I'd like to see addressed:
* How does an organisation identify what they don't know, but should?
* How can KM help non-Knowledge Workers (e.g. machinists)?
* Should KM be introduced everywhere at first, or just in one part of the organisation at once?
* How do I isolate the effects KM has had on my bottom line, given that we are also re-engineering processes (to help capture knowledge more easily) and introducing new technologies (e.g. intranet portals)?

I've got some ideas about those, but I'd like to see what a diverse group like the NSW KM Forum can do with them!

No comments:

Post a Comment