Knowledge blogs are tough

ev reports that rick klau has written up a great piece detailing his exerience with rolling out a klog pilot at work and it's a mixed bag:

    "At the end of our first month, it's not a slam dunk. To be successful long-term, we will need to expand the number of people with access to Radio as an authoring tool. We will need to define our objectives - with more specificity than simply identifying how we can improve communications. But this was a helpful start - and a good first step to better understanding how weblogs might make us smarter."

Some lessons I learned from this experiment:Just telling people "things will be better" when they don't know that there's a problem is tricky. As mentioned above, weblogs are many things to many people. In our pilot, we started out by simply saying we wanted to see if people found them useful. In other words - we weren't trying to solve a problem.

Reward participation. A number of people stated that they had trouble working blogging into their daily routine - that they had a number of other priorities competing for their time. Not surprisingly, they tended to gravitate to things for which they received recognition. A successful deployment of a k-log will need effective rewards to help reinforce the desirability of participation.

Define what you're looking for. This is related to the first point, but I think it's important enough to discuss on its own. I was surprised at the number of people who understood conceptually what the weblog did but who were still unclear on what they could contribute. People are very used to a fairly formal communications format - and weblogs are highly unstructured. Without a focus, inertia seemed to dominate.

Ensure senior participation. I tend to believe that grass-roots KM is the most difficult to achieve. When a program like this is supported from the top down, people are more likely going to appreciate the importance of the project - and appreciate the connection between the project and the company's overall success. If we are to increase the k-log's success, we will need to involve more of the senior management team.

i've had similar experiences in my more limited attempts to evangelize blogging in a work environment. it's a real eye-opener that will level-set any delusions that blogging will revolutionize knowledge sharing in organizations. it takes alot of persistance and i heartily "second" his recommendations. while rick gives his own co-workers the benefit of the doubt, in many ways, the lessons are no different that those learned in more traditional knowledge management arenas. you can lower the barriers to entry to near-zero and find that most people simply don't want to share for all the usual mundane, institutionalized reasons.

as rick says, you "must have a problem to solve", "reward participation", "define what you're looking for" and "ensure senior participation". and that's just for starters. otherwise it's blank stares and business-as-usual.

Posted by Jay Cross at November 15, 2002 11:59 PM | TrackBack

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