Knowledge Management is a term laden with baggage. For some people, KM synonymous with expensive IT systems and tools. For others it conjures memories of failed initiatives from a time past. But for most people, KM is a concept that they really don’t get.
Not that they need to “get it.” The term itself was invented by academians and consultants conspiring to elevate their science. But when the rubber meets the road, KM is simply about sharing and leveraging knowledge intelligently. The typical knowledge worker isn’t usually familiar with the term knowledge management or even knowledge worker. They just know that they need to tap into knowledge and expertise to help them do their job.
And so, we KM professionals are tasked with providing a systematic approach to KM that doesn’t burden knowledge workers with learning a whole new language. Taxonomy, vocabulary, subject matter experts, communities of practice — all are misguided labels that serve the KM professionals (we know what we mean) but obfuscate the message to the engineer on a project.
We need to put the process into terms they already know and understand. In many ways, Enterprise 2.0 concepts come closer. Blogs, social networking, profiles and discussion forums are all part of our common experience of the web. And they all fit nicely into a community-centric approach to knowledge management.
I’ve said many times that KM is not about the tool. Successful KM is more about the processes and behaviors that drive collaboration, knowledge sharing and reuse. Show people how they benefit when they share their knowledge and it doesn’t matter what the tool is. As long as that tool doesn’t impede your ability to connect with knowledge and the people who have or need expertise, which tool is almost irrelevant. Not exactly the message that the big software vendors want you to hear, but it’s true.
Which got me thinking: if it’s not about the tool, why not choose some tools that are readily and freely available? Could this not make KM accessible to many more companies, and perhaps spawn a new era of extra-enterprise collaboration?
Thus was born The WordPress KM Project. The goal is to create a community-centric knowledge management platform that leverages freely available and easily deployed technology — WordPress.
WordPress is primarily considered blogging software, but it can be much more. A single WordPress installation can now support multiple sites or communities. Plugins such as the BuddyPress suite add discussion forums and extensible user profiles. And the core WordPress system is already well-suited for content creation and management.
What are the key requirements for the WordPress KM Project?
- User Management – Each user must have a profile that can contain contact information as well as skills and expertise. This is important in establishing context and building trust among people who may not know each other.
- Communities – The core management of knowledge and expertise is delegated to domain experts. People interested in that domain are the primary participants of these communities.
- Enterprise scope – Although knowledge and expertise is delegate to communities, the partipants have access to the full breadth and depth of knowledge across all communities.
- Search – For most people, this will be the primary method of retrieving needed knowledge or expertise. For that reason, search — by default — must cross community boundaries.
- Discussion – The primary medium for ad hoc collaboration and knowledge sharing. Each community will have discussion forums centered around the subjects relating to their domain expertise.
- Blogs – This could also be considered news, but carries the advantage of allowing community participation through comments.
- Knowledge – This is experience codified. Explicit knowledge stored in web page or other electronic form.
The goal of the WordPress KM Project is to build a working prototype environment, and then share the results with the world. To do this well, I need your help.
Do you have a passion for KM, WordPress, enterprise systems or just contributing to the greater good? I want to hear from you. Get involved, share your ideas, and join the team.
Let’s begin. Start by leaving a comment below.