Knowledge Management: (7/7) A new Intranet model

Previously in this series of Knowledge Retention versus People Retention I’ve talked about Enabling the employees to become knowledge sources, How to find out where the knowledge is, Encouraging the employees to share their knowledge, Giving the employees the tools to share their knowledge, Promoting the Knowledge Exchange, and Delivering the Knowledge to the employees.

Finally I’m going to round this up with a little view of how these tools such as blogs, wikis, discussion groups, etc can all be used in a way that’s beneficial to an organisation because there are many more practical applications that can actually result in cost and time savings, yes really. It’s not all just fluffy blue sky ideas, these systems can be used to save costs and time, as well as increasing those not so quantifiable knowledge and learning areas.

So here’s the last article, I hope my thoughts haven’t been too rambling…

The redesign of the Intranet…

The traditional Intranet model is for silos of information or knowledge to be created for teams, departments, divisions and large scale incentives. Now although that sotrage may seem logical to those looking at business structure charts, it isn’t very logical for day to day operations.

Employees are looking for information related to the item they’ve just been called, emailed, read or spoken to about, and that means it’s usually related to a project, a person, or an area of expertise. They are not often asked questions regarding specific teams, departments or divisions, if they are it tends to be their own.

So why is the Intranet modelled that way? Searching for a piece of information on a topic or a project is very difficult when all the knowledge is hidden in a maze of pages organised by teams and departments, even if there is a complex search engine installed in the organisation. Indeed the addition of something like a Google box to an Intranet modelled in this way often provides employees with a huge list of irrelevant information with results prioritised in totally the wrong order.

If an organisation implemented the ideas in this series of articles, their Intranet would be radically different from the above model. These categories of knowledge silos would be gone and instead the knowledge would be organised by the categories discussed before – projects, areas of expertise within the business and the employees themselves.

There would be blogs and wikis for projects, wikis and discussion groups for specific areas of knowledge that are relevant and indeed vital to the organisation (as identified by the Social Network map), and blogs for individual employees who are experts. All of these knowledge stores would be listed through the LMS as individual learning items, making them easily searchable and easily accessible.

Although this is all a side product of the procedures implemented for knowledge retention, it’s a very useful one. Not only is it making it easier to retain the knowledge, but it’s also allowing the knowledge to be accessible by all employees and allowing it to flow through the organisation.

It also shows that there are hard uses for these types of learning systems, hard uses that can result in cost benefits. There are others, such as systems for new employee and graduates which would capture the knowledge of previous years intake and use this to educate the coming years intake before they even reach the front door on day one. Each year reducing the amount of time required for training once they are at their desk.

There are many practical applications for these systems, not just for the soft benefits of learning.

I hope I’ve given you something through this series, and I hope you’ve found them interesting. Feel free to comment on them, or if you are particularly interested in some of the ideas and systems please do drop me a note.

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