Knowledge Management - Creating A Sustainable Yellow Pages System

August 2018 ยท 3 minute read

How do I”know who knows” None of us can personally know more than around 250 people, yet we want our companies to be smart, learning organisations where it’s easy to locate the right person to talk to. Nonetheless, these systems can be fraught with difficulty in their implementation, and frequently end up as out-of-date, glorified intranet telephone directories. This guide, drawn from a bestselling knowledge management fieldbook by its author, identifies ten key steps involved in generating and sustaining a successful, employee-owned yellow pages system.

The tips below will be drawn from the book”Learning to Fly - Practical knowledge management from leading and learning organisations” (Chris Collison and Geoff Parcell), and sets out ten important actions to creating a yellow pages systems which really works, and has the positive buy-in of its user community - which is to say, its clients.
1 Maintain a clean and distinctive vision. Be clear about what you are attempting to achieve and avoid compromise. Beware of getting”all things to all men” - particularly those from the HR and IT departments! Everybody will need a slice of this action - don’t get rid of sight of the overarching goal of your system - which makes it easy to find people that you don’t know.
2 Strive for individual ownership and upkeep. Create a process whereby only the individuals concerned can make and update their entries. This may drive a far deeper feeling of ownership throughout the populace.
3 Strike a balance between casual and formal content. Invite people to share non-work info about themselves along with valuable business information. Look at prompting to this with”fun” questions like:“what was the first single that you bought?” , or even”what makes you happy?” .
4 Support the photographs wherever possible. Nothing is more powerful and private than a picture. It speaks volumes about the individual, raises the curiosity levels of others also creates personal ownership of the content. If possible encourage people to include an informal photograph. The security-pass-rabbit-in-the-headlights shots seldom show people in their best light! Better to have a photograph which says more about the individual and what inspires them.
5 Ensure your product design is flexible and inclusive. Realize that different folks relate to templates, prompts and structure in various ways.
6 Start with a customer-facing pilot. Critical mass is all important, so start with a bunch of people that have a natural desire to be more visible to internal clients. This might include things like encouraging purposes, existing networks or communities, or perhaps business areas with fresh direction.
7 Deliver through local enthusiasts. Centrally-driven push isn?t always the perfect way to engage the workforce. Tap into local fans and winners if at all possible? They’ll understand how best to”sell” the concept locally.
8 Utilize success stories as an advertising tool. Reinforce the viability of this knowledge directory at every opportunity. Publicize any successes or examples broadly, and early, to reinforce your project.
9 Encourage usage, but lead by example rather than edict. Avoid mandating the population and usage of the information directory. People might provide better quality content should they think that they are volunteering the data. At the end of the day, you can?t ever conscript knowledge - you can only ever volunteer it.
And let?s face it, there is little point in finding the one person with expertise or experience that you require, when you call them on the telephone, they’re unwilling to talk!
10 Embed into individuals processes. Search for process and intranet”hooks” that could initiate and sustain the use of your information directory (e.g. recruiting or induction of new employees, the launch of new networks, any reference on an intranet site which mentions a person’s name can become associate with their personal page.