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Social Networking - The New Frontier?

Munro Consulting News and PR from Munro Consulting - Published 10 November 2016 Knowledge has been defined as "information combined with experience, reflection, context and interpretation"...
Much of this can therefore truly only exist in the human mind or perhaps knowledge is information that has been processed in the human mind?

Recent reports suggest that globally organisations spent $73bn in 2008 on knowledge management software trying to codify knowledge and distil it into digital form. It is a moot point if "reflection, context and interpretation" can be found in a database. Certainly some knowledge thinkers think that this is money wasted.

Part of the problem is a reluctance to share knowledge within organisations. Powering this reluctance is the notion of knowledge as power with which ones position can be protected. Perhaps this can also be expressed as a fear that when your knowledge is stored in the machine then the machine no longer has use for you or you can be replaced by a newer cheaper model.

This does however overlook the intrinsic value of knowledge and if indeed true knowledge requires the human mind not a machine then the humans holding the knowledge must be valued as being precious and potentially irreplaceable. In the highways industry at the moment another "brain drain" is taking place as budgets are cut, and I would argue that the damage caused by the last one in the 1990's had not been repaired yet. This makes the remaining knowledge even more valuable and precious. Yet how in an organisation can this be leveraged for the common good?

We have already seen that from some viewpoints investment in knowledge management software is ineffective although it has its place. The alternative view is that knowledge resides in people and for knowledge to be leveraged people must communicate. Email has replaced face to face contact in many organisations with perceived benefit in reduced travel and the cost of meetings. However, many are suffering with email overload and bulging inboxes and a request for information that is the 50th email of the day sandwiched between others all demanding a slice of time before 9.00 tomorrow is likely to get pushed aside, discovered again later and embarrassed at replying late - ignored or deleted.

A recent study examined the issue of the "elephant in the room" of people who don't want to share. The reasons for not sharing boiled down to trust in the other party and/or the culture of the organisation does not encourage it. The result of this was seen as

Being evasive, or repeatedly ignoring requests for information
Hiding, such as claiming a report is confidential when it really isnt
Playing dumb, or pretending they dont have the information that is being requested
Solutions to this were proposed as

Cutting down on email. Instead, encouraging more person-to-person contact
Making positive examples of people who share and who use information well
Facilitating more person to person contact is difficult when people are 100's of miles apart and meetings are demanding of time and cost. Social networking could therefore be the answer.
The alternative view is that knowledge resides in people

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