Managing networks and Working Out Loud: Collaboration and Knowledge Matchmaking skills

The world is shrinking. At any given moment I know where many of my friends and colleagues are. Technological footprints are heavy and long lasting.

This week for example I see that Arthur Shelley is in Moscow with Ron Young at KM Russia, Donald Clark is in Belfast picking up an award, Phil Hill is getting fit (ter) in Thailand, Patrick Lambe is having breakfast in Lisboa. Gregga Baxter and his wife are supporters of WaterHealth in India.

Through cultivating personal networks I also know what’s happening this week in Khartoum, Tehran, Dubai and Harare. To many that may seem frivolous information; to others (including me) its valuable and if I don’t know then I know a man (or woman) who can. Let me illustrate the issue with a true story.

the art of network management

Many years ago I was charged with setting up the forerunner of a Knowledge Management function for a financial services business in the City of London. It struck me how badly senior officials shared diaries let alone knowledge about clients.

One day I was in the office of the Treasurer of the national oil company of a prosperous Middle East country. As I was about to leave he asked me to stay for the next meeting.

In came four suited bankers. My client took the lead introducing himself and me (as his Advisor). He then asked each one to introduce themselves. And to everyone’s surprise they were from different offices and areas of the same institution. They had all flown down on separate planes to see the same client.

The Treasurer said his diary was open to meetings with the institution but not multiple visits. They lost face not to mention the cost of the travel and opportunity cost.

So knowing what I did I came back to London and, with the support of the CEO, developed and introduced Visit Information Centre (VIC) which showed all visits to our organisation and all meetings outside of it.  Embedded in the day to day workflow the aim was to maximise the valuable time our organisation spent with a client and make sure those in any meeting were briefed on the latest activity. Today this is or should be standard practice; then it involved a shift in mindset.

So fast forward to 12th December 16; its 2pm and I am having an exchange on Facebook with Patrick Lambe about Lisboa where he is spending a week. Concurrently I see that Ana Neves (founder and organisor of SocialNow and “Mrs KM” in Portugal) is online on Skype. I know Ana lives a mere 15 minutes train ride from where Patrick is spending the afternoon. I also know both of them well and believe they would benefit from meeting each other.

Using Messenger I hook them both up and they meet later that afternoon to discuss inter alia an idea I thought both might profit from.

meeting-by-the-tejo

Tea by the Tejo

I coined the phrase “Orchestrated Serendipity” to describe occurences such as this. I have also used the term “making correlations between seemingly unrelated pieces of information”.

In this example I have nothing potential to gain other than knowing that two people I like and respect are now acquainted so my network grows stronger.

Here’s an example of how one thing can lead to another.

an example of ‘Working out Loud’

A few weeks back out of the blue Martin White of Intranet Focus shared a draft white paper on Digital Workplace Governance with myself, James Robertson, Jane McConnell, Sam Marshall and a couple of others. His invitation, which left it up to us as to how we might respond, read:

Colleagues
The attachment is me working out loud on digital workplace governance on a Friday afternoon
Regards
Martin

Our approaches were different. Some came back immediately. Others took their time. Some used comments in Word, others rewrote paragraphs. As Martin said, “the responses always challenge your own thinking.”

I am sure John Stepper (who is widely credited with kicking off the Working out Loud movement) and Ana Silva who is a great proponent of it would be enthused.

Knowledge Matchmaking?

These two exchanges got me thinking about the way I work, the organisations I’ve worked for, the clients I’ve worked with and the networks I am involved in. I have never acted as an introductions broker seeking reward so do organisations and people see value in it?

Previously as a Senior Manager charged with developing new business, my ability to match a need with a solution was prized and rewarded even though the correlation was opaque to my bosses. More often than not the intuition paid off. But does the same apply today in a Knowledge Management environment where logarithms and Artificial Intelligence are making the correlations I used to make?

Perhaps more importantly do people in Knowledge Management have the time, the confidence and the knowledge of the business to be able to put forward ideas and broker connections?

If they do then here’s a few tips:

  1. You have to be in it to win it: if you sit on the sidelines this will never happen.
  2. Be willing to take a risk: yes you might fall flat on your face! But experience tells me that if you go the extra mile people will come back for more.
  3. Be willing to do this without expectation of reward: it’s always difficult to measure the impact in a world of KPI’s. You have to play a long game but be willing to cut if you feel you are being taken for a ride.
  4. Be willing to acknowledge the contribution of others: from personal experience I’ve found there is nothing worse than someone taking what you’ve suggested and packaging it without attribution. A photo is a great way of saying thank you!
  5. Build trust so people are willing to confide in you and trust your judgement: unless you are willing to find out about people and what they do you will never be able to make these connections.
  6. Be clear about why you are making the introduction or sharing Knowledge: I used to be in the cc camp that so many inhabit believing that by informing everyone I was covering all bases. People are too busy and ignore ‘junk mail’.
  7. Develop your internal filtering mechanism: you have to know your business and identify who is going to be a taker vs. a reciprocator.
  8. Respect the contribution people make if you ask for advice: whatever you get back from people is important. They have committed scarce time and each time you ask for a response you are drawing on your reserve of credibility.
  9. Develop a skin as thick as a Rhino: you will be disappointed when others don’t follow your lead and use the contacts or information without acknowledgement. And remember 90% of people online are lurkers so will not go public with their thanks.

And finally

To prove that this is a reciprocal situation. In August I attended an Improvisation event in Oxford. It wasn’t on my radar but Nancy White had posted a comment about it so based on her recommendation I decided to attend: As a Quid pro Quo I wrote up my experiences for the greater KM4Dev community.

If you want good reading on collaboration, Martin and Luis Suarez have been exchanging comments on a fascinating blog post from Luis: “Stop blaming the tools when collaboration fails”.

Future of the Internet and Legal KIM in an artificial world

Yesterday was interesting. I was in the cloud metaphorically speaking.

future of the Internet

our-internet-panel-at-

From left: Patricia Lewis, Carl Bildt, Dame Wendy Hall, Michael Chertof, Sir David Omand

It started at Chatham House and a fascinating discussion held “on the record” on the future role of the Internet (“the most important infrastructure in the world”) prompted by a report from a very well qualifiied group of 28 experts led by former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt.

This quote from their report targeted at public policy makers caught my eye:

The Internet has connected more than three billion people in just a few decades, however, over half of the world’s population remains off-line. If the rest of humanity is not given the opportunity to come online, digital and physical divides both within and between societies will widen, locking some into a permanent cycle of exclusion from an increasingly digital global economy.

Countries cannot hope to compete in the global marketplace of ideas if their business communities and broader populations are not online.

One Internet can be found here. Distributed under a creative commons licence Its worth a read. A few of my many takeaways from yesterday’s event:

  • Internet is in danger of becoming the ‘splinternet’ as governments seek to improve cybersecurity and restrict who can access what
  • Cybersecurity wears many hats. In totalitarian regimes it means controlling access to what is considered ‘destabilising’ and salacious material not merely espionage
  • False news is on the rise underpinned by the self reinforcing bias of Social Media sites (more on this later)
  • The role of educators is vital to equip tomorrow’s workforce to be digitally literate (see Arab Times article by Dana Winner for more on initiatives in Kuwait)
  • “Its the end of the industrial age and the beginning of the digital age” and “we are coming to the point of contraction” (Quotes from Dame Wendy Hall)

2017 Legal KM Objectives

This very nicely set up the afternoon’s video session at Ark Group ahead of the forthcoming KM Legal Europe Conference in Amsterdam.  I was asked half a dozen questions. Here I will focus on:

What do you think are the key challenges facing knowledge managers in law firms specifically right now?

To answer this I approached two dozen practitioners and thought leaders in Legal KM last Thursday. I used LinkedIn for some and a personal direct email for others. I received 14 responses within a day a response rate for which I am extremely grateful.

Here is a truncated snapshot of the responses (my groupings) with anonymity preserved:

Cultural & Organisational Measurement & Regulatory Process & Innovation Tools & Techniques
New roles needed: business and data analysts and legal project managers. Getting good enough metrics to convince lawyers that it is worth spending time and money on KM

 

Building knowledge into business processes by automating workflows using lightweight new technologies such as HighQ Artificial Intelligence for law firms (as we are not a magic circle firm so we could not invest millions in this)

 

Essential Collaboration between Knowledge, IT and procurement teams Court Proceedings are ‘going digital’ as of the beginning of February. That’s a big challenge! We have to get our dms, our processes and our technical infrastructure ready Increasing client pressures to redact documents or not to share documents in KH is putting pressure on open KH systems AI tools that can mine unstructured content for insight – is it the death of the document?
How to maintain lateral and peripheral vision towards the business goals, where their area of practice fits in to the greater perspective at hand. What can be done daily, weekly, monthly, to take time to do this, when their entire perspective is tied to billing in 6 minute increments, tied to AFA agreements built on efficiency and transparency geared towards the client and their practice area billing requirements? Measuring ROI on client relationship development activities – i.e. not winning new clients, but deepening existing relationships

Getting engagement from fee earners as they struggle to meet their chargeable targets

 

How can knowledge (in widest sense) help firms deliver on the more for less agenda, both internally and to clients?

Preserving client-lawyer face-time, trust and intimacy in a time of online communication

How to better share knowledge with our clients (meaning the clients of the firm)?

 

Understanding how to harness the power of AI in the business:

– to what / where is it best applied?

– is there a first mover advantage or should we wait, learn from innovators’ mistakes and leapfrog with v2.0?

Platforms for commodity work, Artificial Intelligence in all its form, Block chain, Big Data. It is hard to keep up and very unpredictable what it will bring and how it will change the legal business

Move from paper sources and library towards a digital Knowledge Centre, while trying to cope with the increasing information overload. Disruption of legal services

Horizon scanning for us and for our clients.

 

Untangling the appalling hype and confusion about AI

A few stood out (some strategic, some operational): act or wait (in relation to AI); responding to a change in regulation; creating a Digital Knowledge Centre (will AI make that obsolete?); and how to resolve the difficult challenge of preserving client-lawyer relationship when technology makes advice more of a commodity.

future of Legal Knowledge and Information Management in an artificial world

You will note how often AI comes up in the 2017 objectives. This is the question I was asked:

Everyone is talking about artificial intelligence (AI) in the legal sector right now. How do you think AI can really boost efforts to better manage knowledge within a firm?

Many books have already been written on this topic and thousands of articles. Its the new nirvana. Even though AI has the potential to lower barriers to entry have we been there before? Not according to Professor Mohanbir Sawhney in an excellent article in  September’s Harvard Business Review entitled Putting Products into Services he argues:

…By leveraging the power of algorithm-driven automation and data analytics to “productize” aspects of their work, a number of innovative firms are finding that, like Google and Adobe, they can increase margins as they grow, while giving clients better service at prices that competitors can’t match. Productivity rises, efficiencies increase, and nonlinear scale becomes feasible as productized services take over high-volume tasks and aid judgment-driven processes. That frees up well-paid professionals to focus on jobs that require more sophistication—and generate greater value for the company.

I see this as being an evolution rather than a revolution. We are at stage 3:

  1. Stage 1 Search: Making documents, images and audio/video available and tagged
  2. Stage 2 Review & Connect: Analysing and summarising documents, images and audio/video and pushing to relevant people. Identifying patterns and making connections.
  3. Stage 3 Predict & Facilitate: Using the raft of data, information and accumulated knowledge to predict what the likely outcome of an event or series of events might be and to then help facilitate those outcomes.

If you accept that 80% of a company’s data is unstructured there is ample scope. So what options do firms have?

  • Partner
  • Build
  • Buy (or rent)
city-road

Two of the new buildings in City Road, London

Some of the biggest firms have already moved forward: Dentons has gone down the partner route investing in Next Law Labs and acting as a test bed for their ideas; Pinsent Masons have opted to build their own, a do it yourself AI called TermFrame; Linklaters signed up to buy/rent from RAVN and in a really interesting move Cotswold Barristers have become ‘barristers direct’ marketing their fixed fee services to potential claimants.

What’s interesting is how well represented the UK is in the AI field and how many of the emerging businesses can be found around City Road in Tech City, London.

Yet despite the hype AI has a chequered recent history:

  • Both the US Presidential Elections and Brexit Referendum were called the wrong way
  • The challenge of the self reinforcing bias is not met which makes outcomes susceptible to false news and accentuates the Prism Effect
  • Humans are still needed for interpretation, managing of networks and facilitation of outcomes.

and finally

I am going to draw on two quotes from the respondents (both highly visible and respected Legal Professionals who find themselves in roles that have KM components):

AI and automation models if put in place successfully would augment the journalists*, augment the attorneys, make them more successful for themselves, the client, and the business.

*This was in reference to a John Oliver sketch on US TV about the impact AI is having on journalism. See Chicago Tribune summary here.

The rise of newer forms of technology is challenging the way codified knowledge is managed leading to the need for KM professionals to work with new types of colleagues such as business process improvement specialists and AI providers.

If you want more, I suspect one of the topics for discussion in the Open Space Peer Assist session I will be running at KM Legal Europe will be on the impact of AI. There’s still time to register for that event and I’m sure Ark will put online the video interview I conducted yesterday.

Stop Press:

Today DeepMinds and Royal Free Hospital’s App is launched. It is a great example of how data can be analysed and outcomes presented to the clinician for recommended treatments. Substitute the Lawyer for the Clinician and it’s clear similar search, retrieval and analysis tools might be used in Legal.  See here for more.

References:

Thanks to Martin White (self styled ‘Virtual Librarian’) for these hugely helpful links:

http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/how_artificial_intelligence_is_transforming_the_legal_profession

https://artificiallawyer.com/

https://blogs.thomsonreuters.com/answerson/artificial-intelligence-legal-practice/

AI & The Business of Law III: The Rise of Administrative Automation

http://www.pwc.co.uk/industries/business-services/law-firms/survey.html

Also to Exponential Investor who provided this interesting interview transcript as part of its investor service:

They know what you’re going to buy…

 

Practicing what you preach: when search is not enough for a Knowledge Base

Working independently you often have to solve complicated IT issues rather than calling the IT Help Desk as I did for 25 years when I worked in the City of London. 
A few years back resolving technical IT issues was nigh on impossible without retaining expensive external help. Today with networks, online search and a friendly local services business, its doable albeit time consuming. It does though allow you to experience the trials and tribulations associated with establishing and maintaining an effective Knowledge Base.

The context:

A decade ago I converted from being a PC user to a Mac user.  While I loved the order and structure of Windows Explorer navigation I found that Apple had cracked the user interface and synergy of devices. And it seemed to be less prone to Trojan Viruses.
So once Office for Mac appeared and I could use the tools most clients are familiar with I went the whole hog and over the next few years acquired a MacBook Pro, iMac and iPhone all of which sync seamlessly and have been fairly robust (up until now).
Having a deep distrust of relying purely on search it took me a while to create a navigational structure akin to Microsoft’s Explorer using Apple’s Finder tool but I got there mimicking what I had before on a PC.
Like many I used the folder structure in my Mail server to catalogue and group correspondence.  Mail was configured to mirror the file navigational structure so I thought I was ready for most eventualities..
Evernote and DropBox are the collaboration tools I use for current projects and where everything associated with them is stored. iCloud holds the most important historical contact data, Keychain the passwords and Time Machine which I back up to an external Hard Drive is the safety net for the Knowledge Base I’ve acquired over the past 20 years.

The issue:

A month ago my iMac’s Finder stopped working which meant I had to rely solely on Apple’s search tool Spotlight to find stuff on my Knowledge Base.  Despite a trawl thru various technological sites for a fix no one seemed to know how to get Finder working. Within a day I realised how dependent i’d become on ‘assisted search’

The advice:

Back up the iMac using Time Machine. Wipe it clean. Install the latest operating system (El Capitan) Export all material from the Time Machine back up but create a new profile rather than use the same profile. Should prevent the Finder problem being exported!!!!! All sounded good until I tried to export the data from Time Machine.

The subsidiary Issue:

I created a new profile on the iMac and was able to import most of the data but the majority of files can only be accessed thru my previous user profile which had different permissions. And Time Machine hides Mail folders (doesn’t show in Users>Name>Library>). So I couldn’t export the mailboxes as I’d originally intended to.

I felt I was spiralling down into the depths of uncertainty.

The final solution:

Find another machine, reinstall from Time Machine in my former profile and then save all the data (email/files/photos/videos) to an external hard drive. 

Sounded simple. In practice it wasn’t.
I had to borrow an iMac from the very supportive Fermin Ayucar at BeValued, recreate my system on that, save that using Time Machine to a hard drive and then wipe clear my own machine again before using the ‘new’ system to reinstall all of my Knowledge Base on my iMac.

And finally:

The sense of satisfaction when you ‘crack it’ and manage to rebuild a machine is immense. The sense of frustration though in not being able to locate stuff you know is saved is enormous and reflects what many people find.
 
It reinforces the piece I wrote a few month’s back on the need for assisted search and tags which contained this prophetic quote from my good friend Martin White of Intranet Focus who said:
 
If you can’t find information, then in effect it does not exist. Your search application may return 85,340 results for a query, but if the most relevant information was not indexed, or your security permissions inadvertently prevented the information from being displayed — can you trust your search application?
 
Fortunately the reinstall workaround was successful and all machines are backed and functioning. If you want more please contact me and I’d be happy to talk you thru it.

A case for raising ISO standards: an emerging KM driver

bir-sept-16The following article was published in Business Information Review Magazine.Summary

This article seeks to raise awareness of the moves by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) to establish a set of Knowledge Management Standards. In it the author Paul J Corney will suggest that the adoption of such standards has the potential to become a game changer for Knowledge Management professionals providing a clear rationale for future KM Programs.

A case for raising standards: home and away.

Summer has finally appeared and visitors to London can be heard bemoaning the lack of air conditioning that is commonplace in their societies where 25c is the norm rather than the exception.

The political climate too has been hot enough the past month with the Brexit vote, the flurry of resignations that accompanied it and a slew of economic forecasters downgrading short-term UK growth predictions.

The brave new dawn promised by the Vote Leave campaign is predicated on striking bilateral trade deals quickly!

Yet as anyone involved with cross border negotiations will tell you, they take time to reach consensus.

I have previous (or current). I am a member of the British Standards Institute (BSI) committee providing input to the International Standards Organisation (ISO) working party responsible for drafting.

Invited to join the ‘great and the good’ of the UK KM world a year ago, I accepted as I’d seen in assignments and tender requests how important this was becoming. But I wasn’t convinced the process would be a speedy one since the ‘call to action’ from the Israeli Standards body who were behind the proposal for a set of international KM standards was already a couple of years old.

This is how the US standards body alerted its members in 2013:

The Standards Institution of Israel (SII), Israel’s member body to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), has submitted a proposal for a new international standard focusing on requirements for knowledge management systems.

As the U.S. member body to ISO, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) invites all interested stakeholders to submit comments on the proposal by Friday, February 14, 2014.

The proposed International Standard would set down requirements for organizational knowledge management systems, including the creation and maintenance of such systems, the nurturing of a knowledge management culture, measurement of organizations’ knowledge, and approaches to sharing knowledge management solutions.

The standard would cover businesses, nonprofits, government organizations, and other groups of any size and in any field.

An emerging KM driver?

Is this the game changer for KM that some are predicting? Potentially and here’s why.

I am co-authoring a book. ‘Navigating the Minefield: A Practical KM Companion’ will draw on KM programs of leading firms and practitioners. My co-author Patricia Eng was previously Head of KM for the US Nuclear Regulatory Authority so knows a thing or two about making sure lessons are fed back into processes. As part of our research we asked a wide range of practitioners were the impetus for their program had come from.

A couple spoke about compliance audits being the driver a few mentioned improving productivity but the vast majority said they were addressing a business issue or risk. None pointed to adherence to a quality standard.

So in the Keynote Speeches I have been delivering this year I have been suggesting that increasingly there will be four key drivers for KM programmes:

  • Strategic / Visionary
  • Risk
  • Process Efficiency
  • Compliance with Quality Standards

The ISO standard will provide impetus to practitioner requests for KM resource. The C-Suite understands Risk and Compliance so the door is already ajar!

‘In Search of Excellence’

Followers of Tom Peters will recall this seminal work from 1982 described in Forbes Magazine as “An essential book for founders and CEO’s”.

In an excellent review of the tome published by Forbes in 2014 Scott Allison notes:

Before company culture became a well discussed topic, Tom Peters and Bob Waterman urged readers that perhaps the single key piece of advice from their findings was “figure out your value system: what your company stands for. What gives people pride?”

And it describes how excellent companies have family-like atmospheres, make a point about being transparent with and sharing information widely, and insist upon informality in communications between workers.

There’s also more open doors and open spaces instead of corner offices and cubicles.

Why this reference? Well the UAE Federal Government as well as the Dubai Government has laid out a set of excellence programmes aimed at raising the levels of service provided by their government departments.

If you visit the offices of the Knowledge & Human Development Authority in Dubai for example (they are responsible for the quality and growth of private education) you will discover that they have made extensive use of open spaces and informality. It works for them and has improved service.

Broadly aligned with those in EFQM’s Excellence Model Dubai & UAE Federal Government have added specific clauses that make reference to the delivery of Knowledge Management especially Knowledge Transfer and Learning Lessons.

As a result government entities in Dubai face periodic reviews to assess the efficacy of their KM operations. Assessors are sharpening ‘green pens’* and setting out inspection timetables as I write this.

Recognition of superior KM performance by the Dubai Government Excellence Programme is highly sought after. Failing to meet the minimum quality criteria is not!

The certification conundrum

While adherence to UAE Quality Standards is mandatory the same does not apply with ISO or EFQM.

It will be the decision of the user as to whether they wish to be certified against it – it is not a requirement.

And yet if you are a manufacturer of locomotives for example you will need the IRIS Kite mark in order to sell your engines or rolling stock. To get / maintain that Kite mark requires certification and assessment. KM is included in their standards so implicitly the manufacturer needs to be able to demonstrate that they ‘do’ KM.

And finally

Gazing into my crystal ball I am prepared to speculate that others will follow Dubai / UAE’s lead and that ISO KM Standards when released circa 2017/2018 will have an impact on KM programs. KM’ers it’s a good time to start flagging this as a potential issue!

*The pen colour of choice for auditors in the financial services sector.

References

http://www.forbes.com/sites/scottallison/2014/01/27/an-essential-book-for-founders-and-ceos-in-search-of-excellence/#23f82b152062

http://www.khda.gov.ae/en/

International Organization for Standardization

Brexit, Bollywood and the need for ‘assisted’ search

As regular readers of this column will know, when in England I try to begin my day in Eastbourne with a coffee (a Decaf, Espresso is off the menu now) before walking back along the seafront to work in Meads Village where I live. I always take a notepad to capture the revelations that occasionally come to me.

Bollywood beckons

IMG_4727Today was a case in point. As I got to the seafront I was approached by an Indian man who looked lost.

His English was heavily accented and my command of Hindi is so poor that our conversation was a bit stilted.  He asked, “where is the fliming?'”  I replied, “what filming?” to which the response was, “The Bollywood Filming at the Tower” which I inferred to be the Wish Tower (a notable landmark with a view to the pier – see alongside) and showed him the way.

NB I didn’t hang around for a role as an extra since I am no longer supple enough to participate in the dance routines that often feature in Bollywood movies.

Brexit, Paramedics and the Patient Access System

IMG_4733My second strange encounter was to find two paramedics and an ambulance on the promenade by one of the thatched beach shelters which are used in good weather as overnight accommodation by those who have none.

I mention this since it became the talk of the promenade prompting the same sort of negative comment I heard at the previous night’s EU Brexit debate: “There’s too many people here, I can’t get a Doctor’s appointment when I call and yet those people get an ambulance and paramedics”.

Strangely enough this got the creative juices flowing –  a case of disruptive influences perhaps. Mulling over the (lack of) debate that took place at the EU Referendum event I attended the previous evening, same old non arguments about statistics that can be interpreted in multiple ways, it triggered a thought about the challenge of having too much information and knowledge and not knowing how to locate it or indeed what to do with it.

To explain. For reasons too many to go into I have become familiar with the National Health Service’s Patient Access System. It’s an extranet that enables a patient to communicate with clinicians, make appointments, renew prescriptions and review all results and examine the historical trends,  I can have a blood test one day and see the results online the following day. It works brilliantly yet only 30% of patients actively use it.

If I am overseas and need additional medication on my return to the UK I can organise it remotely. It allows me to manage any health issues and improves my understanding of diagnosis and treatment so that a visit to the doctor is much more effective for her and me. It’s a far cry from the promenader’s “…I can’t get an appointment” perhaps confirming that knowing where to find ‘stuff’ and how to interact with systems is beyond the ken of many.

It reinforces my view that stakeholder engagement is both essential and difficult. Few of us have the analytic mind or patience to dig beneath the covers. We live in a soundbite society where we are used to instant responses and expect technology to provide it.

AgesIn the case of Patient Access I imagine engagement is a bigger challenge due to its wider range of potential users than in a business environment where focus is on Baby Boomer to Generation Z .

For more on this topic check out What’s in it for me: The challenge of sharing client knowledge and broadening relationships.)

Finding ‘stuff’

The Patient Access System is a great example of consolidating information and data yet is the not success is could be as many people don’t know about it, feel overwhelmed by it or can’t be bothered to try it.  These what’s in it for me issues show themselves in business too.

Try as we might technology makes it impossible to switch off from work (unless we switch off) though French legislation making it an offence to send emails to workers outside of the normal working ‘day’ might contradict that statement.  Yet we are increasingly time constrained and swamped by ‘stuff’ and email.

So what’s the answer? Assisted Search? Tagging? Automatic Indexing on the fly?

Recently two fellow Knowledge & Information Authors have opined on how to overcome the challenge of making it easier for people to find what they are looking for.

Nick Milton’s blog tackles the subject of Knowledge Bases and I was drawn to (and agree with) his assertion that you should

Structure your stored knowledge based on what people will be looking for, not based on who created it.

even though its not always possible to imagine all uses people will make of the knowledge base when they add content. I also concur that there is considerable value in structuring Knowledge Bases to support Communities of Practice or Thematic Areas. To read more: http://www.nickmilton.com/2016/05/how-to-structure-knowledge-to-be.html#ixzz49rCe0MOL

To an extent Nick’s blog post is recognition that search is not working: if it were then why would you need ‘assisted’ search in the form of a Knowledge Base.  I need to declare prior interest here as 20 years ago I was President of Verity’s European User Group (Verity was the granddady of search). Verity’s Topic Search used to create collections which assembled like minded content into meangful groupings.

Martin White’s cms search blog  http://www.cmswire.com/information-management/enterprise-search-is-bringing-me-down/ backs up the search is not working view and Martin notes:

If you can’t find information, then in effect it does not exist.

Your search application may return 85,340 results for a query, but if the most relevant information was not indexed, or your security permissions inadvertently prevented the information from being displayed — can you trust your search application?

And finally

In Lisboa at last month’s SocialNow event which among other things aims to shine a light on workplace collaboration tools much of the talk was about tagging of content so that it was more easily found.  The danger of relying on Tagging like Taxonomy is that one man’s tag is another man’s conundrum.

Perhaps this example best sums it up. I reluctantly became a Mac user in 2010. Having grown up on Windows infrastructure I was wedded to the idea of Explorer to manage my documents and files.  I was assured that Mac Search would solve all my problems and had no need of a filing structure or Knowledge Base. It doesn’t and though I would never go back I still use an Explorer like structure to augment search.

It seems Assisted Search is here to stay for the foreseeable future.