The Joys of Knowledge Management
The person who usually doesn’t get what the kids or wife gets picked up a nasty cold from the daughter. My daughter handles it okay during the day, not so good at night. Hopefully, I can lapse into a drug-induced slumber before too long.
Before I do that, though, I feel the need to type up a blog post from my Nokia E61. I would use the Nokia N800 to do this, but it doesn’t have a keyboard. At least, not yet. I ordered a bluetooth keyboard for it. Same one that Ken Camp and Jonathan Greene picked up. It won’t get here until the end of next week.
Today’s major task at work was reviewing resolutions that people in our Technical Assistance Center’s write up, review the technical content, and get them published on support.nokia.com. Given my gruelling training schedule over the past 3 weeks and the resulting backlog, I haven’t been keeping up. The resolution I started working on today didn’t help. It was long, but covered a strangely familiar topic.
After a quick search, I discovered this resolution is a somewhat updated version of a resolution I wrote several years ago. My old resolution was imported from our previous Knowledge Management system and referred to several older resolutions. All of these resolutions now need to be updated, both in terms of content and in terms of style. For reasons of policy, I have to recreate all those old resolutions anew. The result will be lots of new articles to support this one article to support something someone took the time to create. Between feeling sick for much of the day and simply running out of time, I did not get this finished. It will be sitting there, waiting for me tomorrow.
Very few people actually take an active role in managing a knowledge base. Few people even contribute to the process and those who do, because of policy and/or time constraints, do not always contribute in a way that makes it easy for the people that are actually managing it. And in my case, it’s not my only task, either.
A challenge that many organizations have is retaining people with an understanding of the history and evolution of the group. This point came up in the Product Management class I took recently, and it applies to Knowledge Management as well. With some exceptions, most of the knowledge relevant to my team was written since I joined. I spent a lot of time either writing or rewriting many of the articles in that knowledge base. As a result, I can tell you with reasonable certainty if a resolution exists for a particular topic. My brain isn’t a search engine, but at least I have an idea if you’ll find that needle in the haystack.
Keeping track of all that knowledge, keeping it up to date, and keeping it presentable and relevant is not easy. Not all the technical people have writing skills and/or lack the time/know-how to make the knowledge “look good.”
The task, while it takes a lot of my energy, taps directly into something I am passionate about: sharing knowledge with as many people as I can reach. If it’s my knowledge, all the better, but it doesn’t have to be.
I have to wonder how many people share this passion. I also wonder how many people in different parts of Nokia share this view, not to mention in other companies. I wonder how having a person passionate for sharing knowledge involvde in the Knowledge Management process positively or negatively affects their customer support sites.
I think another aspect of this sharing involves, for me personally, the actual learning of new things to share. I can’t help but learn through reading these resolutions, but I also enjoy writing my own as well. How do I do that? Learn something new. It may be a fact about product I support or it may be something completely unrelated. Keep my mind sharp.
I think I’ve rambled enough for one evening. My thumbs are getting tired, as is the rest of me. Next time you go to a company website for help, think about who is behind it and whether or not their passion for the work shows.