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December 31, 2003 » 3:34 pm

Knowledge Management as Information Brokering

David Gilmour, CEO of Tacit Knowledge Systems, wrote an excellent (and short) essay in the October issue of Harvard Business Review entitled, “How to Fix Knowledge Management.” The gist of the article:    (P3)

The problem is that most organized corporate information sharing is based on a failed paradigm: publishing. In the publishing model, someone collects information from employees, organizes it, advertises its availability, and sits back to see what happens. But because employees quickly create vast amounts of information, attempts to fully capture it are frustrated every time. Even the most organized efforts collect just a fraction of what people know, and by the time this limited knowledge is published, it’s often obsolete. The expensive process is time consuming, and it doesn’t scale well. (16)    (P4)

Gilmour’s solution:    (P5)

Instead of squelching people’s natural desire to control information, companies should exploit it. They should stop trying to extract knowledge from employees; they should instead leave knowledge where it is and create opportunities for sharing by making knowledge easy for others to find. This requires a shift away from knowledge management based on a publishing model, and a focus on collaboration management based on a brokering model. (17)    (P6)

Tacit Knowledge Systems‘s system does this by scanning all of the email and other documents on a corporate network, and building profiles of individuals based on these behaviors. The system can then alert people to other individuals with similar interests, brokering an introduction between them. If you think there are potential privacy problems here, you’re not alone. Josh Tyler‘s SHOCK works in a similar way, but distributes control of the profile to the individual; see his paper, “SHOCK: Communicating with Computational Messages and Automatic Private Profiles.”    (P7)

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