Knowledge Management

Give it a Break

Von Megan Santosus

Well, now I'm back and trying to sort out what's useful - things I cancan spin into a story idea or pass along to someone else - from whatisn't. And it struck me: In its most rudimentary form, my inbox reviewis a kind of knowledge management system. I sift through materiallooking for snippets of relevance that I can turn into some kind ofuseful information for myself or colleagues.

Companies and organizations that utilize Knowledge Management aredoing much the same thing, albeit on a larger and more sophisticatedscale. They collect tons of data, review it, process it, disseminateit, all in the name of making smarter decisions about products,customers and markets. What companies don't want to do is slow to atrickle the amount of information they take in. Indeed, with all thetechnologies now available to collect and massage data, the emphasisamong many KM circles is to cast as wide a corporate information netas possible. The more information, the argument goes, the better theknowledge.

That's the conventional wisdom. But my self-imposed exile from datadeluge suggests to me that turning down the siphon every once in awhile will not result in a drought of knowledge. On the contrary,reduce the noise level, and the result is a better ear for whatmatters and what's important.

Having been out of the mainstream for nearly half a year, I find thatinformation that is inherently interesting and not just the latestbuzz seems to effortlessly leap out at me. Give me a couple of monthson the job, and I'll have to work harder at finding the good stuff.That's the effect of too much data over the long haul - it erodes oursense of what's cool and neat because we're overloaded.

The same can be said for organizational KM. Keep taking in ever moredata, and it becomes harder to turn it into knowledge. While companiescan't unplug for months at a time, KM efforts can take a short detour.Begin by asking different questions or looking for answers indifferent places. Instead of analyzing the same sales data, look atwhich industries are hiring or take a look at recent patent filings ofcompetitors.

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