The internet has opened up a wealth of knowledge opportunities in the workplace. In an article for Forbes, contributor Ed Zitron states that, although improvements over the past decade have given us access to vast amounts of knowledge, organizations are still having a great deal of trouble managing that knowledge. Companies are juggling information overload with the desire to remain competitive, and this results, as Zitron notes, in many companies “starving in the midst of plenty.” This is due in large part to the division of labor within an organization. Many people may have information that only one person needs, and this makes search results lengthy and hard to decipher. Zitron suggests that the best approach to knowledge management may be to get a better view of how people are using the information they have:
The next generation of knowledge management tools will not only get the right information to the users who need it, but they will compile measure and curate that information for everyone in the organization. And they will present that information in ways that will help businesses get to insight more quickly.
To understand how such tools should work, Dow Jones/Factiva launched a proprietary field study to find out how different players find, use and share information in organizations. We learned quickly that formal roles are not necessarily indicative of how people actually function. For example, with smart phones and iPads, a CEO today may be her own information seeker, rather than relying on staff to feed her periodic updates.
Zitron continues by grouping the people who use this information into 5 specific archetypes:
These archetypes are easy for corporations to understand. The compasses are the “strategic thinkers who use research to set the company’s direction.” Connectors are the individuals others go to for information. Captains, as the name would suggest, lead teams. Miners find new and original information. Finally, scouts find information based on certain topics and projects. Organizations, according to Zitron, must find out which people in their own companies are playing which specific role. This is an excellent way to find out where your knowledge management strengths and weaknesses are. Then, organizations must find how these roles and the knowledge in play is being used beneficially. In order for all of this to be successful, each archetype must have the appropriate tools to manage the knowledge at hand.
It is important to keep in mind that one company may need to manage knowledge different than the next, and that is ok. Remember, after identifying the archetypes within your organization, you have to decide how to make these types of individuals work for you when it comes to knowledge management. You will most likely find after conducting such a review that the skills these individuals have can greatly benefit your knowledge management system overall. Granted, with all the information available, your knowledge management procedures may still be at least slightly confusing, but by following Zitron’s advice, you will surely be less overwhelmed than before.