If your teams are spending too much time looking for needles in haystacks, there are 2 things you can do to quickly improve the findability of knowledge.
I often get asked how to accelerate the findability of knowledge within Intranets and reduce time spent repurposing knowledge objects (e.g. documents). You have probably heard it yourself, people just can’t find documents and, when they do, they are not up to date or do not contain enough detail to be meaningful.
Knowledge Managers and Information Managers alike seem to default to blaming culture when analysing the reasons for slow knowledge flows (this is a mistake) – the impact from slow knowledge flows being a slow response to customer (internal and external) needs, to say nothing of STICQE problems.
However, if, instead of blaming culture, you analyse the behaviours, processes and structures that are causing the slow down in knowledge flows within Intranets (come from a position of empathy with the user – after all, owners and authors are not trying to sabotage findability on purpose), a more practical solution might begin to emerge.
- You need to remember that you might have the best Intranet on the planet, but you are still dealing with people and that means human behaviour and error. To this end, intranet site owners and authors often lack meaningful governance guidelines that nudge behaviours/practices (e.g. best practice for findability when creating a document title) toward improving findability. All too often, intranet authors and owners develop bad habits that become entrenched behaviours, where findability is driven by luck (e.g. knowing where someone has filed a document because you share an office with them) over design (agreed common practices), because they have never been given a set of best practice guidelines to work from – consider how many new employees join your organisation every year, how quickly are they informed of best-practice Intranet author guidelines or, as is often the case, are they left to work it out for themselves?
- HR is rarely, if ever, involved in solving the problem (Knowledge Management and Information Management is stuck in a silo of false belief, where the functions believe that they can solve the problem on their own, when they really need to collaborate). For example, if site owners and authors do not have the behaviours needed to agree and implement common practices, then, surely, there is the need to both develop such behaviours through HR policy and practice (e.g. job descriptions, recruitment and selection) and, where necessary, recruit/redeploy influencers to help accelerate such development.
Bottom line, if finding knowledge in your Intranet is like searching for a needle in a haystack:
- Make sure your governance guidelines are fit for purpose.
- Make sure that HR is involved in helping to solve the challenge of findability.