I was recently inspired by a talk by Danny Budzak at the International Data and Information Management Conference (IDIMC) in Loughborough. Danny works for the London Legacy Development Organisation and is responsible for their knowledge management. Many of us were recently inspired by Chris Collison’s case study on IOC knowledge management so I was interested to hear Danny’s take on the reality.
But in fact, the main thing that stuck in my head was Danny’s description of how office life has changed over recent decades. It’s not so very long ago that important documents were typed and filed by professionals – people trained in filing, records management, knowledge management. The fact that a typist may be employed to type a report, and that the opportunity for editing was limited to the use of Tippex, inherently built in quality assurance processes that have long since disappeared.
Nowadays we are all office managers and knowledge managers. We are responsible for our own digital filing and usually for creating our own filing structures. This is all well and good, when you are creating and capturing knowledge that only you will use. But if you are capturing knowledge that has a wider value – say expertise on how to deliver a development project, then you need to design a system which will allow others to find and retrieve that knowledge easily.
But how many of us have had any training in the design of such systems. The use of metadata or version control? How many of us have actually even had proper training in the use of excel or word?
Danny summed up his talk with a great phrase that I will return to. Complexity doesn’t have to be confusing. It’s so easy when faced by burgeoning big data and masses of junk mail to shut ourselves off from the potential sources of knowledge and wisdom. It is the job of the knowledge manager (and we are all knowledge managers) to make sense out of this chaos and confusion and bring order to the complexity.