Topic driven knowledge management: a organisational approach to knowledge management

Topic driven knowledge management focuses on deliberately connecting the core business development goals to the development of expertise in individuals and the organisation as a whole.

It can be applied in 2 ways: as a goal in itself, or as a means to an end. In the latter, technical competitive advantages for example might still be relevant, but the goal of the company is to transform into a learning organisation. All other resources should enable that goal. In the first, if technical competitive advantage is one of the company’s core distinguishing trump cards, topic drive knowledge management might revolve around the topics concerning that trump card.

It’s important to make a clear distinction between the two goals. McKinsey for example is such a big firm, its will have to put topic driven knowledge development first. ASML, a chip producing company, will have to distinguish goals related to its technology.

That doesn’t mean topics like marketing, HR, general management etc., are not to be pursued. But it does mean that e.g. marketing should clearly develop towards marketing the technology ASML offers. Or say ASML had a ‘traditional’ ‘technology-is-boring-and-dusty-and-nerdy’ image that it wanted to get rid of. That would mean its branding experts should have clear knowledge development goals related to changing and managing tech-company brands.

Focus on deliberate knowledge management and development

Finally, it’s important to emphasize that clear organisational and/or individual knowledge management or learning goals must have been specified. For example, in the ASML example above it’s easy for a company or individual to claim to have learnt from ‘learning by doing’. Or to claim “that after 5 years of working as a brand manager in ASML, I experienced in tech-brand management”.

That is not to say that know-how is dispensable, but the learner or organisation was not in control of the learning path. It’s also more difficult to quantify, showcase, sell it as a USP or further invest in it if it (would have turned) turns out to be thé key factor to focus on.

deepKNIFMA_knowledgemangement-topic-driven-employees-company-learning-organisation
An example of how a company might want to structure topic driven knowledge management. The complexity of the network can increase if the size of the organisation requires it. It’s visible that (some) employees might choose multiple topics. It’s imaginable that within the core topics, more specific topics will be defined.

How do I get started with topic driven knowledge management?

Step 1: gather as many topics as possible from throughout the organisation

In topic driven knowledge management, the topics relevant to the organisation are listed. This usually happens during a brainstorm-like setting. The more staff involved, the bigger the chances of successful adoption are. Gathering the topics that deserve attention, can been done in a ‘grassroots’ process of gathering information.

Step 2: seek out the champions that create broader support for topic driven knowledge management

The secnod step is to identify champions within the organisation. People that assume leadership roles naturally and who are followed by people in the organisation. Depending on the size of the organisation usually there can be 5 to 50 champions identified. If the company is so big that 50 champions can be identified, it’s common to start with a pilot in 1 place in the organisation.

The champion will gather the input from people on the floor, asking them what they think are important topics for the company, what topics are interesting to themselves, and what they think are interesting, closely related markets to the one the company is active in. This might lead to a long list, and it’s up to the group to decide what topics stay and which ones are removed. Not all employees are obliged to join, but it should be clear that this is their chance to influence their personal and company’s development.

Step 3: combine all the lists and start filtering the topics

Once all the groups have made a list, the lists are combined and might have to minimised again. This is done preferably by a group composed of employees, lower and middle management and some members of the executive board. Once some 10-20 items have been defined, a survey must be set up. People can select a top 3 of areas in which they would to develop themselves.

Implications of choices in topic driven knowledge management

Of course there are many approaches to develop a topic driven knowledge management structure. If the C-level management wants to be more involved for example, a top-down approach to topic generation could be used. The company can also choose between assigning topics to department, teams or individuals, or the organisation can let them choose freely. Ultimately the key is to combine the business goals and the intrinsic motivation, talents and interests of ‘people on the floor’, whatever role they embody.

What is design thinking and what’s important when you apply it?

Though design thinking has its origins in the (somewhat more) creative industry, the ‘design’ in design thinking, is not a noun but a verb. ‘Design’ is not the product, but the designing of a solution brought to the user in the form of a product, process or any other result of the design thinking method.

The official definitions of Design Thinking

The official definitions are below, highlighted with keywords that sparked my interest. Important to remember is that the next steps in the design thinking method might be filled in quite differently depending on the company or project you’re working for.

“Design thinking utilizes elements from the designer’s toolkit like empathy and experimentation to arrive at innovative solutions. By using design thinking, you make decisions based on what future customers really want instead of relying only on historical data or making risky bets based on instinct instead of evidence.”IDEO, the company where Design Thinking originated

Another, more general interpretation of Design Thinking is:

“Design Thinking is an iterative process in which we seek to understand the user, challenge assumptions, and redefine problems in an attempt to identify alternative strategies and solutions that might not be instantly apparent with our initial level of understanding. At the same time, Design Thinking provides a solution-based approach to solving problems. It is a way of thinking and working as well as a collection of hands-on methods.”Interaction Design

Elements of Design Thinking

Design Thinking revolves around 5 steps: Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test. The structure, ease of sharing and adaptability to the problem at hand that this method allows, has certainly contributed to the popularity of Design Thinking.

Though there’s a reason for the order of these steps, it’s good to know that in practice, these steps take place iteratively and sometimes simultaneously. When during testing it becomes clear some elements are not meeting user satisfaction demands, you might go back to the ideation phase. Also, the prototype is a basic solution that still requires adjustments and therefore includes understanding the user in a more sophisticated way than before.

Design Thinking: Empathise

Design Thinking EmpathiseEmpathising is about understanding the user. Though this understanding will become more refined during the full process, the first phase is about charting the user, their needs, their motivation, their user context, etc. But it also might include drawing out very concrete elements of a typical user’s life: what does their morning ritual look like? Do they have breakfast? Do they hit the snooze button or not?

“Users might literally tell you something else than what really motivates them”

For example: people that are motivated to go running or swimming before work, might literally tell you that they don’t have time or enough self-discipline in the evening. Once they hit the couch, they know they won’t be able to lift themselves. But if you make full use of the empathise phase, you might come to the understanding that they derive pride from being in the ‘elite club’ of top performers who have the self-discipline to get up at 6 to work out. Or they feel that they ‘reclaim their lives’ by getting up for themselves and their activities, instead of getting up to be on time for work.

If you were working on an alarm clock that shouts out motivational reminders, you might have to reprogram it to shout “Elite results come from elite discipline”, instead of “You won’t do it tonight”. If you were designing an activity program to make employees exercise before school time so PE isn’t an educational activity only, your whole end solution might be off if you didn’t have the insight above.

Design Thinking: Define

Design Thinking DefineDefining the problem is the next step. When you understand you user, it’s easier to frame the problem more clearly. It’s about interpreting what you (as a group) have learned. You put together all the research and analyse the patterns, searching for possible pain points or opportunities. Pain points or opportunities can be found by looking gaps (something is missing), wishes (if only I could.. ) or annoyances. Feelings described by the target audiences are good indicator. When they react strongly in their answers, it’s an issue that is important to them. The outcome of the define stage is an actionable outcome.

For example, if missing a morning exercise results in being grumpy all day and not enjoying their evening, it’s clearly important to their morning ritual. Also, avoiding Tuesdays as a workout day because someone else runs the same lap on Tuesday but 15 minutes earlier, might confirm a loss of fun of working out in the ‘early elitist’ workout group, since someone else is apparently more disciplined.

If the motivation of working out in the morning is ‘reclaiming their own live’, the person might not mind the guy who works out 15 minutes earlier on Tuesday. But they might start to experience trouble when asked to start working an hour early since there would be not enough time to exercise before their job.

Design Thinking: Ideate

Design Thinking - IdeateThis is the phase that most people who don’t consider themselves creative, might imagine is the ‘creative phase’. The one where you brainstorm, have strange suggestions, saying ‘no’ isn’t allowed, colourful pencils and post-it come out, people have a laugh. The stuff that ends up in documentaries about IDEO, Apple and other design firms. That’s not what ideate is about.

“‘The best’ should be defined by a mix of satisfying the user needs, goals of the company initiating the project and feasibility demands: time, money, people and other restrictions.”

Ideation is about generating ideas surrounding the problem statement you’ve developed. But it is also about making a choice from that range of ideas. And the ideas that are being generated are not random: they are (and should be!) already heavily influenced by the previous two phases. Within that context, as many ideas as possible are brought up by team members, after which a selection is made that only leaves the best ideas. ‘The best’ should be defined by a mix of satisfying the user needs, goals of the company initiating the project and feasibility demands: time, money, people and other restrictions.

For example: if a government decides it wants its citizens to all have a BMI between 18-25 in the next 2 years, a 10-year program of psychological change of behaviour is not in line with the goal. Increasing the tax on bad food by 200% and making fruit and vegetables free might be a better idea. Unless the budget doesn’t allow for that, in which case handing out diet pills at every supermarket might be more feasible.

Obviously, these examples are a bit extreme, but they underline the idea that the ideate phase is just as much as making well-founded decisions as it is about generating ideas.

Design Thinking: Prototype

Design Thinking - PrototypePrototyping is about experimenting with the chosen idea. A first mock-up is developed, whether on paper or out of cheap, easy to use building materials. If you’re developing a user flow in an IT system, this might be where you let user paste the post-its to the wall in the order they prefer, thus mapping out their preferred flow. You then make some mock-ups on screen and see if the user flow still works.

It’s important to know what you want to test in this phase. Considering the IT system, you might want to test user flow, but you also might want to test the amount of fun people derive from using the system. The level of self-explanatory capacity of the system, or maybe only spot major road blocks that stop users from using the system. Make sure you capture as much feedback as possible, that it’s easy to readjust your prototype quickly and that you can test it again as soon as possible.

Design Thinking: Test

Design Thinking - PrototypeFinally, the testing phase. This is where you take all the learnings from the previous phase, redesign your product and start developing an MVP. This is where the Test-stage gets interesting. A Minimal Viable Product should reflect the minimum requirements that make a product ‘viable’, capable of ‘surviving the real world’ and the related factors that impact chances of survival.

“MVPs are too often defined on a functionality level instead of a viability level”

That includes user adoption, which often strongly relates to change in behaviour, ease of use, learning curve etc. Those qualities in turn often depend on characteristics such as use of colour, interface design, consistency of language and semantics, feedback loops from the system, tone of voice, assistance when required, etc.

In practice, a lot of companies consider their MVP as a ‘minimal functional product’: does respond when I click a button? Can it in one way or the other, produce the right output? Of course, there is some usability logic applied, but most of the other qualities (learning curve) or characteristics (feedback loops) are seen as adornments or extra’s, since ‘they are what makes the system looks pretty’.

And as it turns out, the very dedicated, loyal and friendly colleagues or customers you’ve persuaded to be in your testing group, actually do figure out how to perform the actions you’ve identified for them. After 10 minutes, they’re signed up and ready to go. Except that signing up for a new sports-app these days, might have to take a maximum of 30 seconds. So, that won’t work for the big masses and the product fails, leaving the team that worked so hard on it, wondering why.

Another case might be a SaaS product, where signing up requires a lot of company and market specific information, such as the building materials market. How much projects did you company run last year? For a total amount of how many m2? For each of these building materials, please fill in what amount was used? For the woodworking section, what amount of wood was certified? By what certifier?

A signup process like that obviously takes more than 30 seconds. But you still should set a benchmark somehow. Usually by setting expectations and measuring them. If the average time for the fasted 50% is 15 minutes, then make sure system is so easy to use the other 50% of the users can also sign up within 15 minutes.

That might sound like you’re already building a pretty advanced version of your product, but that’s not necessarily the case. The point here is: make sure what boxes should be ticked by your MVP, and that’s not just functionality.

Further tips for design thinking

  • The steps above are iterative. That means they might have to be repeated in order to generate better outcomes. It also means the phases are not as clear-cut as described but that they can run simultaneously;
  • Don’t think of design thinking as having fun with post-its to create cool, suave or pretty products. Take it seriously and be critical of the process when you apply it to your own context;
  • Be analytical, demanding and clear of the outcomes. If you feel your team doesn’t fully understand the user yet, dive back in. If the problem statement might create trouble later down the road, redo the exercise. Take your time to dive in deep and learn as much as you can;
  • Don’t think of your MVP in terms of functionality only. This is one of the most common mistakes in design practices in general! Define what will make your solution ‘viable’ and test that!

And most importantly: design thinking is about designing solutions, not designing products or services, those are merely the vehicles that bring a solution. Good luck!

IMAGES BY FLATICON & PEXELS.COM

Charting information search scenarios in your organisation

Your organisation holds a lot of information in a lot of different locations. A search scenarios is crucial in your organisation’s information and knowledge management as it helps your employees to get the right information at the right time.

Intranet, e-mails, e-mail attachments, planning document, excels, head of people, “on the wall” screens and roll up banners that feature the most important mile stones: you name it. Making that information accessible to the right internal and external people at the right time is a real puzzle. A lot of pieces, directly and indirectly accessible bits of information that together tell the whole story but are usually not needed all at once, only one piece to help with a specific information need.

That information can be divided in several ways. There’s not 1 single method of search will aid all information request for all people connected to your organisation, even when the answer to a question is exactly the same. So before you make a division of what information should be put where, design your search scenario’s.

What is a search scenario?

A search scenario is one of the first steps in designing the Knowledge Contact Moments- map. A search scenario helps you chart the type of need for information along 2 lines: urgency (high/low) and target (internal/external). These properties relate to the information need. That allows you to take next steps in determining the information location for example. If urgency is high and the target is external, it means information should be quickly accessible for people outside of your organisation. E.g. an online helpdesk or FAQ. If the urgency is high and the target is internal (“How do I log in into my mail?”) , the lack of accessibility to that information  is likely to be a daily process blocker (I can’t read my mail).

Search scenario’s help you build information pathways in your organization’s content management infrastructure. It’s slightly comparable with building a city from scratch. If you know that people want to relax + with their families + after work, you can start building a road that leads them from a work location to a school or day care to a park. If you know people want to pick up breakfast before work, they can partially use the same road with a small detour, clearly indicated by the sign “get breakfast here”. Since you know the scenarios, it’s easier to build 1 connecting road, instead of creating a new path for each location.

What does a search scenario overview look like?

Like this. Your organisation is in all four areas, and it’s key what requires the most attention. Each scenario will have a different search path in your organisation.

Search Scenarios in information and knowledge management

Why isn’t it more detailed?

The details are filled in per scenario. Will there be overlap? Yes there will be. But a lot of organisations unintentionally make the logical mistake to chart all the topics they (think) they know something about, the locations that information is currently being held and then do some form of analysis focused on users, search strategies, meta-data, etc. Those investigations can be very useful but not if there’s no scenario to test. Using only KPI’s will not help. It’s great that now 55% instead of 40% visit the intranet every two days, but what does that mean in terms of accessibility of information, knowledge management and becoming a learning organisation? In case of the intranet, probably a good conversation topic for the coffee machine.

In short, don’t start with the details, start with how information is being put to purpose.

When do we fill in the details?

When you make the Knowledge Contact Moments Map (KCMM). Not sexy, but very useful. Here are the benefits. You can assume that most search scenarios are more or less applicable to every organisation. Naturally, depending on the culture, products/services, strategy and goals of the company, it will probably rely more heavily on one scenario or the other. Therefore, the scenarios will be further specified: Who are your externals? Does your company want to spend budget on becoming a learning organisation or is immediate customer satisfaction more important? When that is clear, those scenarios can be further specified by filling in the KCMM.

Ironically, it’s also what an organisation taught itself that determines how it will continue to access information.  If I’ve always relied on information path x, I will help my new employee find the same information in the same way. How often have you heard “I’m not sure if that’s how it supposed be, but that works for me!”.

And such patterns are good! If they’re good. If an information pathway is inefficient it might cost a lot more time to find information than is necessary. It’s funny how companies are fanatically trying to reduce call centre costs by making fully optimized information pathways, but do not do the same for their 25-5.000 employees.  Especially when you know that each person spends 2 hours a day for information.

In short, start with understanding search scenario’s specific in your company so that you can carve the right paths to the right information at the right moment.

Knowledge Contact Moments- map: What are the benefits?

What’s a Knowledge Contact Moments- map? It’s a tool that lets your organisation chart where knowledge is contained in your organisation and when it’s relevant to (an employee of) a specific department. The concept stems from Customer Journey Mapping, where an organisation charts what contact moments a (potential) customer has before buying, being serviced, reaching a goal related to that organisation, etc.

Why make a Knowledge Contact Moments Map?

Knowledge has the notorious reputation to be captured in different kind of formats: documents, loose files/ electronic sheets of paper, websites, intranets, e-mail, Twitter, in conversations and, the format most difficult to organize, employees heads. In order to pinpoint that information, a map comes in handy.

Why is it a ‘contact moment’ map?

The KCCM is based on the principle that knowledge is only chartable when we know where it is. We usually only find out where it is when we ask for it. That sounds like an open door, but the problem of content recreation because organisations simply don’t keep an inventory of their knowledge is well known and wide spread.

And when do we ask for it?

Knowledge is relevant when we don’t have it ourselves and there’s an urgency for it, meaning we need it within a short time frame. Sometimes that’s up to a month (e.g. getting certified for a next assignment) but usually it’s shorter: within a week. After that, the situation the employee is in has changed and the urgency disappears.

For example: employee Lindsey needs have some background information about Scrum. She kinda knows what it is, but some more details would be nice. Lindsey knows George of the other department has worked on a presentation, but he isn’t available on Fridays. She does a ‘shout-out’ on her company’s forum, but she knows it might take some time before someone responds so she decides to check their Sharepoint environment. She finds an entire PDF book but that’s a little too much. Other documents she finds actually treat the implementation strategies of Scrum in their own organisation and when she hits the year “2014” she figures that whatever pops up now, is no longer relevant.

Another, more ambiguous example. Frank is project manager at a big client. The relationship is good but certainly has potential to expand and is worth investing in. Frank knows the contractor of the company is a big fan of wine, though Frank doesn’t know that much about wine himself. He goes to store, and picks what the sales person advises. If only he’d know Melanie’s parents are French, she runs an import web-store exclusively for the best home mad wines and that Melanie actually works on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday right across the hall.

Think wine expertise isn’t really one of your core company’s assets? Try First Aid: hire an external company a €2.000 a day or ask Lennard down the hall who’s a certified trainer and regularly host voluntary trainings. Or try implementing a new password security API. Hire that consultancy firm or ask Jonathan, who now works in Marketing but implemented a similar thing at his other company before switching from IT Help to Customer Service to Online Marketing. Yep.

Remember Lindsey’s attempt to find out about Scrum? There goes 2 hours a day. An another 1.5 in meetings. Did we mention the planning of schedules, at 1 hour a day. That leaves of 3.5 ‘production’ hours a day on average. Your employee costs €4.000 a month?  €2250 of that are money thrown away. The Society for Human Resource Management , indicates a range of 18-52% of payroll cost per company. Say your turnover a year is €300.000 and your payroll expenses are a most 25% or €750.000. That’s over €420.000 wasted. Almost half million of company capital thrown in the dumpster.

Of course, it’s arguable that e.g. scheduling are very necessary to make employees work efficiently and it’s obvious that some meetings are relevant. And if you want to find information you’ll always have to do a little bit of searching. That’s part of the job. But should it be 2 hours a day because people can’t find information when they need it the most? Nope. Hence, the Knowledge Contact Moments Map.

Division of content in help based environments per information type

There are a lot of how-to guides that help companies set up a knowledge base for both internal and external use. Before you choose an information and/ knowledge management however, it’s good to see what information needs to be put in what container. Here are 4 containers that are especially valid in help-(desk) environments.

Terminological based  information management

In short: what does this word mean?

Like: what is an API?

Terminological information in companies is often referred to as ‘the glossary’. The list of words or abbreviations that are required of customers, users or employees to perform certain tasks.

This often seems the low hanging fruit. After all, everyone in and outside of the organisation knows what a flowering plant is right? It’s either a blossoming weed or a garden plant, as yourdictionary explains in this article about semantics. Imagine writing in your various help documents: “Please make sure no flowering plants are near the designated area of maintenance”. Would that mean that I need to first remove all the weeds, or, make sure there are no garden plants in the area. In the case of say, using an insecticide. You think that’s a cute example? Imagine something like this being in the help texts of multibillion agriculture chemical producer like BASF. Note: I’m very sure that this is example doesn’t apply to them

Another example: the company doesn’t even know what they mean exactly. A few years back I worked at a company where the terms Daughter-company and Parent-company needed be explained. The problem? Nobody knew what it was exactly. In a more general manner these terms were an indication about the relationship to another, related company: either you were the smaller, supported party or, you were the bigger overarching company. Not that hard right? Except the definition determined if you had to pay a yearly fee or not. With legal implications if you didn’t.

Hence, terminology is important. Keep in mind the infamous 20/80% rule: 20% of the terminology will create 80% of the work, as those are the terms that people will have strikingly different ideas about.

Functionality based  information management

In short: what does this button do?

Like: what happens if I press this button?

Information Management Download Button Functionality Type of Information

 

 

And: how is it different from this one?

Information Management Download Button Functionality Type of Information

 

If you hadn’t guessed it already, the first is a download button. The second is a ‘go’-button after having entered a search term. It could also have been a ‘go’-button after having entered contact details which someone would like to have processed. In a “contact-me-for-a-product-demo”. So yes, also important.

I’ve heard (mainly non IT, UI/UX, sorry) people say: “the new system will be self-explanatory”. Please don’t. Yes, a very good case can be made for good interface design, how it supports efficiency and understanding, but nothing will ever be fully self-explanatory. Which is OK. Just provide good support.

Especially with functionality questions, context is important. What was someone’s previous action, what part of the system of site are they active in and what are they trying to achieve as a next step? For the user, these shouldn’t be questions. They be made clear through consistent and clear terminology (point in case above), clear navigational hints and an overview of the process someone is in (see below).

Does a functionality really need explaining? Then be inclusive. Say someone doesn’t understand the download button, make sure you know what they don’t know about it. Picture a hover-over that says “This is a download button”, well, that might have been obvious. Make clear that the user knows what she’s downloading. A file? What file? E.g. “Download the employee survey 2016” is much better. That’s why download links are so popular these: they allow you to include text.

Process based  information management

In short: where is the user in the overall process?

Like: what happens next?

Best example ever that we all know: “Thank you for contacting us”. Now what do I do? Another one: “We are processing you request”. Great, how long’s that going to take?

A good exercise is to bullet point the process for (the type of) user and make sure that it’s clear what the connecting steps are per phase. The end step of the last phase or action (depending on the size of the process) is important to the next phase. How often do you book a flight with someone and you go “Is that for both of us? The price seems a bit low”.  Not at Transavia. They make it extremely clear what you’ve selected and what the current total amount of money is for what amount of travelers.

Transavia Contextual Navigation

If you do need help in the form of larger display of text, preferably do it at the beginning or end of a process. For example:

“Thank you for registering! We’re going to ask you about your exact annual revenue of the previous year and the exact amount of employees, because those determine your fee. Don’t have that information at hand? Click the Reminder Button below to receive an e-mail tomorrow at 10 o’clock to remind you to continue your registration process”.

Or at the end of the process:

“Thank you for your contact details. We will let you know within 5 working days whether or not your application has been accepted. If your application has been accepted, you can immediately continue your enrollment. If you application has been denied we’ll provide feedback on the reasons.”

Task based information management

In short: How do I add a user?

Then there’s another type of information request: tasks. Those often need a little more explanation and are harder to leave out, solve with 1-3 words or solve with an icon or navigational element.

Sometimes users have a vague idea of where to look. For ‘payment options’ they probably need to check the tab ‘Financial Information’, and to add a user ‘User Management’ or ‘Team’ seem to make sense. However, I have seen examples where an overview of the payment procedure was not provided in the “Finance” tab, but in the general “Profile” area under “Bank Account Number – ABCD0001212121”, where they had to click the number to find out about the procedures, payment options etc.

Tasks might need more space to be explained, but they are easier to define and prioritize. A good analysis of the questions answered (by your help desk?) on a daily basis give you a very good overview of the top 10-20 questions asked for which a short how-to guide or FAQ can be composed. A canned e-mail response might also do the trick.

Conclusion

Whatever your format of choice is to deal with questions, make sure a clear distinction is made in the type of information, who and where it should be resolved. Create an overview, control over your help information and consistent and clear answers for your users by analysing and categorizing the questions you get and the answers you give. Not everything is task, not answers can be given via Twitter and not all process overviews consume the user’s time.

Met maar 2 principes van kennismanagement je contentbeheer waardevoller maken

Laten we eerst het verschil tussen informatiemanagement en kennismanagement duidelijk maken. Zowel in letterlijke definities als in de algemene inzichten in deze onderwerpen, wordt duidelijk gemaakt dat informatiemanagement vaak gaat over ICT processen en infrastructuren, en kennismanagement over het beheren en ontsluiten van kennis in een organisatie.

  • Informatiemanagement volgens Wikipedia: Informatiemanagement is een proces dat ervoor zorgt dat de informatiebehoeften die vanuit verschillende werk- en bedrijfsprocessen van een organisatie ontstaan worden vertaald in informatievoorziening. Informatiemanagement professionaliseert de vraagkant van ICT en valt daarom in de regel niet onder een ICT-afdeling maar onder de gebruikersorganisatie.
  • Kennismanagement volgens Wikipedia: kennismanagement is het proces van het creëren, delen, gebruiken en management van kennis en informatie binnen een organisatie. Het omvat een multidisciplinaire aanpak om organisatiedoelstellingen te behalen door kennis zo goed mogelijk in te zetten.

Waarom sluiten de principes van kennismanagement meer aan bij contentmanagement?

Dat doen ze niet persé 🙂 Bij kennismanagement in relatie tot content draait het ‘ontsluiten van de inhoud van content’, of dat nou via slim beheer is of niet. Bij informatiemanagement in relatie tot content draait het om het ‘efficiënt inrichten van het beheerproces’, zodat de juiste content snel kan worden gevonden. Eén voorbeeld? Het opstellen van een goede taxonomie.

Kennismanagement richt zich op leren

Contentbeheer ook. Of het nu gaat om de eindgebruiker of degene de die content opstelt, edit of beheert, uiteindelijk draait het erom wat er met content wordt gedaan. Klinkt als een cliché? Laten we de kennis management -bril even opzetten.

Bij kennismanagement geldt bijna altijd: de gebruiker van kennis moet iets leren. Hij of zij moet na het gebruiken van de kennis in staat zijn iets te doen of te begrepen wat hij/zij eerder niet kon of wist. Als het gaat over je content, probeer je doel dan niet te formuleren als ‘oriënteren’, ‘activeren’, ‘overtuigen’, etc., maar formuleer een helder leerdoel. “Na het lezen van mijn artikel kan de lezer helder vertellen wat informatiemanagement is, wat het verschil is met kennismanagement en wat 5 mogelijke toepassingen van kennismanagementprincipes in de praktijk zijn’.

Voor contentbeheer geldt dat je los even los mag laten welk stukje content op welke plaats in Sharepoint staat, wat de looptijd van de juridische afdeling is om content te controleren, of dat de zoektermen van je SEO onderzoek ook wel echt gebruikt worden in de teksten op de site. Probeer je contentbeheer eens in te richten zodat de leersnelheid van het bedrijf of andere gebruikers van de content zo veel mogelijk toeneemt.

Bijvoorbeeld: als je iedere week met juridische zaken over het gebruik van het woord ‘voorwaarden’ of ‘gratis’ om te tafel zit, stel dan samen met juridische zaken een checklist in. Als er documenten worden gedeeld in Sharepoint, zorg dan dat de content goed ge-meta-tagged is en dat mensen in de organisatie zich kunnen abonneren op deze metatags. Merk je dat het een heel gedoe is om de laatste versie van het SEO zoektermen document te vinden omdat niemand eigenlijk weet waar dat externe bureau die stukken nu post? Zorg dat de zoekwoorden een word-cloud vormen op het (contentbeheer) intranet.

Kortom: contentbeheer hoeft niet alleen te gaan over het opslaan van documenten, maar kan ook gaan om de inhoud/kennis goed in te zetten.

Content Kennis bruikbaar maken met een kennis-journey

Content ‘bevat’ kennis die bruikbaar is voor medewerkers. Met ‘content’ wordt vaak tekst of beeld verstaan, maar denk bij dit punt vooral aan de ‘container’ van content. Zo zit veel kennis in de hoofden van mensen, wordt er veel gedeeld in de vorm van korte ‘snippits’ of berichten op sociale media of wordt er kennisvraag vastgelegd in de vorm van een leerdoel.

Denk maar aan de nieuwe medewerker die begint met het doorspitten van de bedrijfswebsite om de producten en services beter te snappen. Of het intranet, waar vakkennis wordt gedeeld tussen collega’s. Vanuit kennismanagementperspectief zou je het liefst al die kennis binnen de organisatie continue ontsluiten en inzetten.  Hoe doe je dat? Denk in ‘kennisdeelmomenten’. Net zoals een customer journey contactmomenten in kaart brengt tussen klant en bedrijf, kun jij contactmomenten tussen de medewerkers en kennis in kaart brengen.

Kennis-contactmomenten

Bijvoorbeeld: een collega begint aan een voor hem/haar nieuwe opdracht waarin hij/zij nog niet veel ervaring heeft. Nog niet helemaal thuis in het onderwerp belt hij/zij een collega die eerder een soortgelijk project heeft gedaan. Oftewel, kennisdeling. Die Sharepoint metatags waarop je je kunt abonneren? Kennisdeling. Je collega organiseert wijnproeverijen en wijnen verzamelen is een hobby van je grote klant? Natuurlijk ga je naar je collega om even advies in te winnen over welke wijn je cadeau moet doen. Dan moet je wel weten dat je collega een fervente wijnliefhebber is.

Kennis wordt pas relevant op het moment dat we het nodig hebben. Klinkt als een open deur, maar als bedrijf weet men gezamenlijk heel veel maar dat wordt nooit gedeeld. Ontwerp een systeem waarin je relevantie koppelt aan kennis. ‘Shout outs’ op sociale media zijn een voorbeeld: “Wie heeft er ideeën over het lanceringsfeestje van mijn klant?”, “Welk logo is beter: A of B?”, etc. Kopjes koffie drinken, shout-outs, onbekende hobbies, leerdoelen van collega’s maar collega’s weten niet van elkaar wat die leerdoelen zijn: maak het zichtbaar door kennis en content(vorm) in kaart te brengen met een kennis-journey.

Marketing afstemmen op je business model? Dat doe je zo!

Marketing en marketingactiviteiten kunnen variëren van concreet tot heel ongrijpbaar en van intuïtief tot meetbaar. Een breed spectrum waarbinnen het soms moeilijk kan zijn om een richtlijn aan te brengen. Een momenteel populaire aanpak is het vertellen van een verhaal, oftewel storytelling. Een ander uitgangspunt voor je marketingactiviteiten kan je business model zijn.

Waarom je businessmodel als fundering gebruiken voor je marketing?

Type product en de bijbehorende relatieduur

Als je je businessmodel als uitgangspunt van je marketing en marketingactiviteiten neemt, ga je indirect uit van drie principes. Allereerst het type product en de bijbehorende relatieduur tussen bedrijf en klant. Denk bijvoorbeeld aan IT bedrijven. Het product is een website, database applicatie of andere digitale of software oplossing. Die gaan vaak gepaard met een stukje licensing en ‘abonnementen’ op servicecontracten. Een langdurige relatie dus, die duidelijk invloed kan hebben op je marketingactiviteiten. Bovendien zijn er binnen de IT industrie twee typische doelgroepen: de experts die bijzonder veel van het onderwerp af weten en de ‘beginnelingen’ die juist erg veel hulp nodig hebben. Ook een bijzonder belangrijk aspect voor je marketingactiviteiten.

Hoe veel en hoe snel komt het geld binnen?

fashionEen tweede aspect van je businessmodel dat invloed heeft op je marketing, is de snelheid waarmee je geld op haalt en ook in het verlengde daarvan, ook de hoeveelheid geld die je binnen haalt per sale. Bijvoorbeeld: een online retailer zoals Zalando.com die bijvoorbeeld populaire kleding en accessoires  verkoopt moet vaak grote hoeveelheden verkopen omdat de prijzen relatief laag zijn. De doorloop van de items veranderd snel (mode is ieder seizoen anders) en de doelgroep kan snel switchen naar een ander platform. Loyaliteit creëren (en andere zaken) is dus een extreem belangrijke doelstelling voor de slaagkans van dit businessmodel en de uitvoer van marketingactiviteiten.

De inhoud van je marketing

Een derde groot aspect is de inhoud van je verhaal. Daarmee bedoelen we dus de letterlijke inhoud van je berichten. Dit zal enerzijds op je businessmodel moeten worden afgestemd en anderzijds is dit een manier om tussen dezelfde businessmodellen onderscheid te maken

Denk bijvoorbeeld aan biedingswebsites zoals Ticketveiling.nl waarbij het bedrijf achter de site een bepaalde commissie krijgt op een verkochte of geinde deal. De prijs is veel 10-eurocentmoeilijker te beïnvloeden omdat mensen erop kunnen bieden waardoor je een verschuiving ziet in het type content. Een traditionele luchtvaartmaatschappij is vaak redelijk fanatiek in het aanbieden van lage ticketprijzen (“Vlieg nu naar Dubai voor maar €… !”). Veilingsites proberen klanten veel op de breedte van hun aanbod te wijzen. Groupon biedt allerlei ideeën aan voor activiteiten bij jou in de buurt en Ticketveilig geeft je inspiratie voor leuke dagjes uit om zo de kans dat iemand converteert naar een betaalde gebruiker te vergroten.

Marketing en businessmodel ondersteunen elkaar..

Natuurlijk zijn hiermee niet alle aspecten gedekt, zowel marketing als businessmodellen zijn veel complexer dan deze drie punten. Ook is het logisch dat bepaalde punten zoals ‘doelgroep’ een agendapunt worden want dit is nou eenmaal onderdeel van een goed marketingplan. Het idee is echter om vanuit het businessmodel-perspectief (“Hoe verdien je geld?”) te kijken naar je marketing in plaats van op de automatische piloot braaf alle hoofdstukken van je “Marketingplan-2017” af te tikken. Als je de kenmerken van je businessmodel (snel/ langzaam product, relatie, doelgroep(en), logistieke partners, etc.) een naast je huidige marketingactiviteiten legt, dan analyseer je je marketingactiviteiten op een gerichte manier. Je doelstellingen kunnen worden aangescherpt en businessmodel en marketingactiviteiten versterken elkaar.

Storytelling is hip, maar een goede doelstelling blijft belangrijk

Storytelling als onderdeel van (content)marketing wordt een beetje gehyped en deels met goede reden. Mensen hebben aanleg om vehalen te onthouden. Het maakt feiten makkelijker overdraagbaar en heeft meer ruimte voor het emotionele aspect waarop mensen zo zijn afgestemd (denk aan Simon Sinek Why – How – What). Maar het is en blijft belangrijk om een goede doelstelling te hebben wanneer je de verhaallijn voor je bedrijf of marketingactiviteiten ontwerpt. Hoe doe je dat goed?

Wat is je doel nou echt?

Hoe moeilijk kan het zijn? Meer sales door storytelling toch? Dat is waar iedere organisatie naar streeft. De vraag is alleen, is content marketing daarvoor het aangewezen middel? Soms kan het namelijk al bijzonder veel opleveren om te investeren in een beter functionerende website, een beter flow van de online vertegenwoordiging naar de offline winkel of simpelweg te adverteren met Google AdWords.

Bovendien, maar dat is onze mening, zou het nooit het doel moeten zijn van een organisatie om te verkopen (tenzij je een bedrijf bent dat haar klanten helpen met het verbeteren van haar verkoopprestaties). Het doel van een bedrijf is haar klant te helpen in het door het bedrijf gespecificeerde veld.

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” ― Edward Abbey, American Author and Environmental Advocate

Voorbeeld: Bedrijf A en B zijn beide actief op het gebied van trainingen voor bedrijven. De winstdoelstellingen van beide bedrijven zijn beide €10 miljoen per jaar. Bedrijf A heeft daarom een salesdoelstelling vastgesteld op 10.000 stuks trainingen. Bedrijf B heeft ook een sales doelstelling, maar van ‘slechts’ 5.000 stuks. De overige winst moet dus gemaakt worden uit, inderdaad meer sales, of op bijvoorbeeld productontwikkeling of overige manieren. Denk bij productontwikkeling aan verbeterde versies, andere producten die in lijn liggen, aanverwante services voor de producten, andere betalingscontracten en ga zo maar door. Maar ook pilots met bijzonder experimentele, volledige nieuwe producten passen bij bedrijf B. In plaats van de bestaande klantengroep uit te putten, kiest Bedrijf B ervoor om of een nieuwe klantengroep aan te trekken, of om de bestaande groep klanten meer waarde te bieden. In onze optiek is het altijd de taak van een bedrijf om haar klanten meerwaarde te bieden, om zo een bepaalde winstdoelstelling te behalen.

Sales, digital content, contentmarketing, storytelling

En het bovenstaande gaat alleen nog over verkoop en productontwikkeling. Niet over de overige bedrijfsonderdelen zoals logistiek, imago van het bedrijf of mogelijke MVO- activiteiten. Je moet dus keuzes maken in je content marketingstrategie en je acties hierop afstemmen.

Terug naar de doelstelling..

Je kan het proces van bepalen van de doelstelling zo groot of zo klein maken als je zelf wilt. Een mogelijk manier om de doelstelling goed helder te hebben is door zowel de diepte in te gaan en tegelijk specifiek te blijven. Het proces van het formuleren van de doelstellingen kan er als volgt uit zien.

Deel 1:

Een aantal collega’s werkt veel samen en er bestaat eensgezindheid over het gevoel dat er “meer mensen kunnen worden aangesloten aan de community, waarvan er dan hopelijk ook een aantal kunnen worden geconverteerd naar klant. Bovendien verbetert de naamsbekendheid van het bedrijf dan ook”.

Deel 2:

Ga onderzoek doen en bespreek de elementen die belangrijk zijn voor jouw storytelling. Wat definiëren we als community? Alle mensen die geen klant zijn maar ons wel volgen via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn en de mailing? Of ook de bezoekers van de site die nog geen aankoop hebben gedaan? Of vallen klanten er ook onder? Als het gaat om zowel klanten als mensen die volgen op Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn en de mailing, hoeveel hebben we er nu dan? Wel deel daarvan is klant? En hoe groot is de community in totaal? Wat is de ratio tussen die twee en is het redelijk om te verwachten dat wanneer de community groeit, het aantal klanten ook groeit? Is er inzicht in welk deel van klanten op welk medium volgt? En hoe hoog is de conversie per kanaal?

ls er vrijwel geen conversie plaatsvindt vanuit Twitter en als de meeste gesprekken op Twitter een soort van ‘live Q&A’ zijn, dan is bloggen of artikelen schrijven wellicht niet de beste vorm van content. Tenzij.. het vragen zijn die redelijk wat uitleg vergen. Er zit namelijk een verschil tussen “Hoeveel vertraging heb ik opgelopen?” en “Hoe werkt paragraaf A.1b van jullie algemene voorwaarden nou precies?”. Denk dus goed na over de aard van de content.

Deel 3:

Bestaat er een redelijk beeld van wat jullie ongeveer willen? Mooi, dan kan de doelstelling nu worden verfijnd.  Stel, de geformuleerde doelstelling is inmiddels verdeeld in hoofd- en subdoelstellingen:

  • Hoofddoelstelling: “de volledige off- en online community inclusief klanten laten groeien van 10.000 naar 15.000 man in het eerste kwartaal van 2017”
    • Subdoelstelling 1: “de korte vragen via Twitter beantwoorden op de bestaande FAQ”
    • Subdoelstelling 2: “de vragen met een lang antwoord omvormen tot blogposts op onze bedrijfsblog en die via Twitter promoten”

Doelstelling, targets, storytelling

Wees dan nu kritisch op de doelstelling en probeer alle problemen te vinden. Allereerst, check of de doelstelling SMART is: Specifiek + Meetbaar + Acceptabel+ Realistisch + Tijdgebonden. De hoofddoelstelling voldoet hier al aan grote mate aan. De enige vraag blijft in dit geval: hoe lang heeft het bedrijf erover gedaan om een community van 10.000 op te bouwen? Als het antwoord vijf jaar is, dan is het niet realistisch om te verwachten dat er binnen drie maanden 5.000 man bij komen.

Stel ook vragen over wie hiervoor tijd heeft, wat het mogelijk gaat kosten, of er buiten de beschikbare middelen extra middelen nodig zijn en wat mogelijke opbrengsten (zoals omzet of naamsbekendheid) zijn. Schrijf dit soort zaken uit in een memo voor de betrokkenen en print het uit en hang het aan de muur. Check met regelmaat je doelstellingen om je voortgang te monitoren en pas je doelstelling aan wanneer nodig. Op die manier breng je je storytelling in lijn met je doelstelling en krijg je grip op je content!

McKinsey says ‘Business Needs More Women’: Crowdfunding Can Support This Goal

Why do we want more women in business? Practicing gender equality is usually not the reason one starts a company. Are men making a mess of our economies and companies? Is “the men’s world” not functioning or failing in creating sustainable growth within our economies? No, not really. The vast majority of men in companies are good people and devoted individuals. By no means are men the ‘wrong-doers’ and should be replaced because of such a (faulty) reason.Then why does this discussion matter?

Women make companies perform better

Numbers don’t lie, especially not when they’re provided by McKinsey & Company: companies with some 30% or more women in top level functions, perform better. A lot better actually, according to McKinsey & Company’s yearly report “Women Matter”. These companies have better return on equity, 11.4% vs. companies who have significant lower amounts of women in their top layer of the company. In addition, operating results are better (11.1% vs. 5.8%) and stock price growth is also significantly better (64% vs. 47%). Women like Marissa Mayer and Sheryl Sandberg are examples of what women could potentially contribute to a company.

In addition, in 2040 Europe is expected to need another 24 million people to tackle the workload, and women are already there. Another reason why we need more women on the work floor is that they’re usually the main decision unit in household purchases, and I’m not talking about groceries. Women spend 71% of the household budget. In Japan, 60% of the women are responsible for choosing a car (now there’s a man’s-world industry for you) and in Europe 47% of the PC’s are bought by women. Notice the “glam” redesigned notebooks that are now available? Notice the advertisers bragging about low weight PC’s? You know why. Then why is it that, according to the Boston Globe, a company pitched by men is 40% more likely to receive funding? And how can crowdfunding change that?

It’s Partially Women’s Own Fault

A lot of women simply approach things differently. If you ask women why a project was successful, about 70% will tell you they were lucky, they worked hard, etc. Men will tell you they’re awesome, says research. In addition, women tend to not discuss their success and attribute it to others (the team). Costa Rica’s first female president, Laura Chinchilla says women are seen as weak because of this: “We understand success not as the result of just one person but as the result of a team,” she told Forbes’ writer Jenna Goudrau. “[It’s a] different way of dealing with power [that] is misunderstood as a kind of weakness.”.

On top of that, women deal with “double trouble”. First, it’s difficult to what Sandberg (and McKinsey & Company) to the “double workload”: raising a family and developing your career. Reports show that in the case were equal companies pitched by either a man or a woman, the man was more likely to receive funding. The reason? Maybe a story sounds more familiar to man when it’s told to him by another man, we don’t like what’s unfamiliar. Much the same way society might prefer a female child care taker instead of male childcare worker, a.k.a. “Manny”..

The Solution is Part of the Problem

If we want more women in business, what’s stopping us? Well, the women are actually. They stick together in Women’s Clubs, Women’s Awards, etc. Personally, if someone ever handed me the award for “Best company with a female CEO”, I’m not sure I’d appreciate it: “Here’s your consolidation prize, now go play with the other kids”, or, “You’re not bad at all.. for a woman”. It sucks to be considered a second rank “leader”, or cheerleader, as was Sarah Palin.

Then why do women do this? Because men do it too. The (in)famous “old boys network” didn’t spontaneously come into existence. Men-only business and networking clubs (as insightfully described by The Guardian)  have existed for over hundred years, plenty of time to establish the beginning of the just as infamous glass ceiling. And even though “Women-only clubs” aren’t going to completely solve the problem, I can definitely imagine that it’s easier to pack some punch when somebody has your back. And why desperately try to build that back up framework with a group of people that need some serious convincing (men), when you have another group of people that is very willing and open to support you: women. And though I have some serious doubts about this form of separatism, there is one specific area in business where women might actually help each other conquer the business: online investing.

Women Investing in Women: online

In order to get more women in (offline) businesses we need to activate women to pick up projects or start up companies. Tough when you’re faced with the barriers above but much easier when you create an environment where those barriers are minimized. Women have the tendency to fund a larger part of their company themselves as it’s harder for them to come by via men, according to USA Today. The result? A company that has fewer resources to fully develop its potential. The solution? Ask a woman to crowdfund the initiative instead of raising funds in the traditional way.

First, the chances of raising funds via a lot better. 42% of Indiegogo’s successful projects are run by women, says Geri Stengel’s Forbes contributor. These crowdfunding campaigns are often mostly funded by other women, according to. They also raise some 11% more money than men, and according to USA Today, women make better investors because: 1) they focus on long-term, non-monetary goals; 2) they are less prone to take unnecessary risks and do quality research; and 3) that men trade 45% more than women, leading to a loss of 2.65% on men’s net returns. And women lead campaigns get 1.3 more followers than men lead companies, according to CrowdExpert.

How does crowdfunding success get more women in business?

Women get a fair chance. No (or less) bias, more access to more investors, both men and women that, in contrary to the established funding industry, are willing to take chance in a woman lead company. There is more money flowing in women’s initiatives, giving women the chance to prove their potential. In establishing great cases, more women like Sandberg and Mayer earn a place in the spotlight, increasing the society broad idea that women can actually achieve something. That way, more and more people (men and women) get the live demonstration of what already has been proven: women make business better.

Final note of the authorI’ve never been much of “we need more women”-person. I believe in hiring the best and if that’s not a woman, I’m fine with that. As a result I was totally unaware of the fact that companies with a certain amount of women perform better, before writing this article. In addition, doing my research for this article I’ve noticed this discussion is very extensive (and quite interesting really) and I haven’t addressed all the related points on purpose. If you have any subjects you’d like to touch, feel free to share them in the comments.

5 triljoen terabyte aan data: wat wordt daarvan gerecycled?

Internet is groot, maar hoe groot? Een lastige vraag volgens Wisegeek maar CEO Eric Schmidt van Google, schat zo’n 5 triljoen terabyte. Die geen 5 miljoen of 5 miljard, maar 5 triljoen keer 1024 gigabyte. Hoe zie dat er online uit?

Als de 2.3 miljard mensen online (of 7,9 nieuwe gebruikers per seconde) die samen 1 miljard Tweets per week, 1 nieuwe blog per seconde, of een triljoen “video playbacks” via YouTube alleen al consumeren of produceren.

Maar wat gebeurd er met die video’s die nooit bekeken worden, of de blogs waar men nooit meer iets mee doet? Zodra iets online staat is het nauwelijks meer te verwijderen. Uiteraard kan de gebruiker de afbeelding, video of andere media offline halen, maar tegen die tijd is het vaak al verspreid of gezien en zwerft het online rond. Stel je eens voor: alle online informatie printen op papier, en dan alles laten liggen wat we niet gebruiken. We zouden al snel verdrinken in onze eigen rommel.

WUWA (While U Were Away) heeft daar nu een inspirerende oplossing voor. Online bieden ze de mogelijkheid om te kijken hoe Google, CNN of Pamela Anders voor je neus worden gerecycled. Alle niet gebruikte data wordt uiteen getrokken waarna er een nieuw basis materiaal van wordt gemaakt; een soort digitale verf die kan worden gebruikt om andere dingen van te maken. Wanneer er een site gekozen wordt maakt de tool een data-analyse en plaatst deze op je canvas. Het kan de zijn dat je het CCN logo ziet, of een heleboel cijfertjes. Ook heb je de mogelijkheid jouw eigen recycle-project uit te printen en aan de muur te hangen. Inmiddels zijn enkele van deze recycle-projecten als tentoonstelling opgehangen waardoor een aparte en leuke collectie wordt gevormd door de informatie die wij online niet gebruiken.

Deze grappige tool transformeert dus niet alleen online afval naar offline kunst, maar laat mensen ook zien dat er naast een CO2-afdruk ook zoiets bestaat als een digitale afdruk waarmee het internet “vervuild” kan raken. Meer weten? Lees het hier.