Organizational knowledge #2

In the previous post, I covered how typical organizations take care of hard-won knowledge.

In a typical organization, those knowledge storages are doomed to fail.

To the writers, they are nothing more than a convenient place to store writings. In most cases materials are noted down out of obligations, not interest. It's hard enough getting jobs done, no one looks forward to keeping documents updated.

In rare times where personal interest exceed obllgations, Getting these knowledge arranged in a productive way is a losing battle. There is either too little to arrange, in which case it's not worth the time. Or there are too much to organized, in which case by the time you're done arranging it would've been outdated. Large scale taxonomy is not something humans are equipped to manage.

That's not even the biggest problem. The very act of writing a piece of document/post suggest that we're dealing with structured knowledge. It's the unstructured knowledge we have to worry about.

In practice, well-organized writings represent a tip of the knowledge iceberg. Where they exist, users have to first know they exist to get to it. In the best case you get a wiki page with table of content. In the worst case, you get a directory full of docx files in one service, along with five other cloud services the org adopted. And we don't know which is the updated version.

There are basically two major problems: discovery and composition.

There's too much friction documenting; the people most qualified to do it have neither the time or skill to do it well.

Once taken down, materials are too difficult to find. Imagine Yahoo in year 1998; not very appealing.


I've covered what the situation is. In the next post we shall look at how things should be.