30. Juli 2004

[ English , Knowledgework und PIM , Wissensmanagement ]

Davenport on Personal KM

Tom Davenport recently gave a talk on managing personal information and knowledge. His ideas connect very well with those that I spelled out in my paper "Distributed KM" about using Weblogs for Personal Knowledge Management.

Some notes:

Davenport said that the average worker spends three hours and 14 minutes a day using technologies to process work-related information—more than 40 percent of an eight-hour workday. The tools and technologies designed to make life easier often have the opposite effect and consume too much of an individual’s time and energy, he said. There is a significant opportunity for organizations to save time and money by focusing on managing an individual’s personal information and knowledge environment. As a result, knowledge management (KM) strategies should focus on managing personal information and knowledge within the organization.
Not much here except for the number. But it's a nice "the guru said it too"-passage. ;-) (Remember, when arguing for weblogs and RSS you don't need any good arguments anymore: It's sufficient to say "Bill Gates says they are good." Switch your brains off everybody.)
“All this time, we were looking at KM as an organizational phenomenon, but clearly it has an individual aspect that needs to be examined,” said Davenport. “If we can focus on the individual, then perhaps the organization will follow.”
Very nice. That's exactly my idea in "Distributed KM": Build something for the individuals and organisational benefits will come "automatically".
Davenport said the idea of managing personal information to transform KM will take off for many reasons. First, people are swamped with information and knowledge. “Few people today believe they do not get enough information. In fact, we get plenty of information, and we need to use it more effectively,” said Davenport. Second, thanks to the Internet, Google, and other knowledge resources, there are greater expectations for information access. Third, because of self-service strategies employed by many large organizations, employees often feel they are on their own.

Davenport also points out that there are many tools for PKM but that they don't integrate and people have to "learn" them. There is a good argument for versatile and simple tools like Weblogs and Blikis here.

Some more figures from a study of knowledge workers:

For the average user surveyed, 45 percent of information processing time is spent on e-mail, 19 percent is spent on voice mail, and 18 percent is spent on shared networks. A much smaller percentage of time (less than 10 percent in each case) was spent on portal Web sites, conference calls, and instant/text messages.

There is a details that caught my attention:

Roughly a third of users set aside time to check and respond to e-mail and/or check e-mail remotely.

That means that two thirds don't do that! Do they just read and answer email in parallel to their "real" work? (This reminded me of a post by Sam Marshall in which he wrote: "Yesterday a conference company sent me an invitation that stated "our research shows that workers are now wasting up to 2 hours a day dealing with email". But isn't dealing with email itself the 'work'?")

If that is really the case the really coping strategies are not necessarily sophisticated as the article says. While many people can multitask and still be effective I would assume (ans I am sure there is some research on this) that many can't and become less effective and less efficient when interrupting their tasks with emailing all the time (Flow, anyone?).

Another interesting point:

those that are successful at managing personal information generally use as few devices as possible. They tend to focus on one piece of software (e.g., Microsoft Outlook) and learn its capabilities well. (...) Those that are information-adept learn all these capabilities and make that piece of software their centerpiece. Finding a gadget or two and sticking with them is also effective in helping users to manage personal information.

Second, those that are sophisticated information users invest time managing personal information on a weekly basis. Whether it is during a long flight or on a Sunday morning, those that effectively manage their information invest a significant amount of time “cleaning up” and organizing their personal information environment.

And finally, an interesting point about software:

Vendors will also play in integral role in successfully managing personal information and knowledge. In terms of technology, vendors provide “features and functions but not reliability,” which Davenport described as “the biggest waste of our time.”

I think "reliability" has been too much overlooked in PIM/PKM-Tools. If people are confiding their personal information to a software system then they want to be sure that they can access it all the time and get it "back" from the system if they want. How many crashes of your email system have you had? How did it feel when your weblog last broke down? Ever had some data in some proprietary format in some PIM-Software (like TheBrain, MindManager,...) that you couldn't get out?

I found the article via Bill Ives who had picked it up from Amy Gahran who I found through her trackback-ping to my "Knowledge Management does not exist"-article. Lilia Efimova also has some notes.

2005-10-12 01:38:31: Das E-Business Weblog: Davenport über Management von Wissensarbeitern


He will also be doing a keynote (E90) and a workshop (free) on KM in Europe next November. He's certainly on my list of interesting people to go see there.

Ton Zijlstra am 30.07.04 12:33 #

Hello, Martin. Remember me - Jon Husband ?

Interesting post ... and this speaks directly to the design of the tool that I mentioned to you, that I asked if you would accept to beta test.

We are about to launch the beta test in the next week. If you are still interested, please let me know jonhusband (at) sprint.ca

Jon Husband am 30.07.04 19:04 #

Of course I remember you, Jon! Nice to see you "over here". I look forward to testing your tool.

Martin Röll am 30.07.04 21:32 #