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WORKING

Part III: Saving the company
WORKING
How ordinary smart people will change the organization
This concludes a three-part series on the failures of many organizations to recognize and
capitalize on the value of human knowledge. Where those companies still don’t “get it,” the
future is in the hands of ordinary smart people.

By Dave Pollard A composite He was blocked from
workaround story using Vyew, so instead of
I have written before Jon spent the first week being able to call people
about what I call Personal in his new job with Giant outside the office for quick,
Knowledge Management Co. trying to port all the free conferences with screen-
(PKM), which is an attempt information, contacts, sharing, he had to use the
to enable workers to do this subscriptions and software company’s expensive pay-
more effectively. tools he had been using in his per-use audio conferencing
My problem has been that three previous jobs to his new system (and everyone on the
PKM is impossible to sell to company-supplied computer. call had to be pre-authorized),
senior management, because He was stymied at every and send a huge deck of
they perceive no value to turn. He was not allowed screen captures by email to
themselves. to put the tools he was participants in advance.
I toyed with the idea of familiar with onto his new He wasn’t permitted to
trying to sell it to front-line computer because they were work from home. When he
workers directly, perhaps by “not supported” by his new worked on weekends from
starting a magazine called employer. home, his Web access to
Working Smarter. He was blocked by the his work email didn’t work
The problem with this security firewall from using properly, and because his co-
is that everyone is at a Webmail in the office (“we workers didn’t use it, he was
different stage in evolution consider this to be something told it would be months before
toward PKM, and there employees would only use they would start trying to fix
are no standard answers for personal non-business the problems with it.
or approaches — we each purposes”), even though all After a long delay, he
have to muddle this through his business contacts and was approved for VPN, but
for ourselves, based on our subscriptions were on it. only on his work computer,
own “knowledge set” and He was blocked from so he began lugging it home
information behaviors. accessing YouTube (where every day, only to discover
But perhaps if we outlined many of the videos he had that it degraded performance
a future scenario of where prepared for his previous so much that even accessing
this PKM trend is headed, employers, and some email with it was agonizingly
we might be able to evolve educational videos he referred slow.
an approach that would to regularly, were stored). His boss dropped into
accommodate the needs of He was blocked from Jon’s cubicle about six weeks
both individual workers using IM and Skype, so he was after he had started work,
and the organizations cut off from his global network and found Jon working
struggling to cope with this of experts and colleagues who away happily. But to the
phenomenon. used IM and Skype exclusively boss’ surprise, Jon had two
To this end, let me start for instant, free knowledge computers sitting side-by-side
with a story of a young sharing, advice and quick on his desk.
business analyst named Jon. lookups of useful research Jon explained that his
materials. work computer was connected

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to the organization’s network, going to become more and work applications. Almost
and he used it only to access more common. all information is Web-
messages and documents Let’s suppose that, in based, with organizations’
behind the firewall, which Jon 20 years, Jon’s information proprietary information
would immediately forward behavior becomes the norm. only accessible through
to his personal email account, Eventually organizations authorization software.
or (using a USB drive) quickly will have to face the problem, Email has disappeared,
transfer over to his own and end the guerilla war replaced by a virtual
machine. that is brewing between the presence application
All work was done on IT security people and Gen that includes instant
Jon’s own machine, which was Y in a growing number of messaging, screensharing,
connected to the Internet (and companies and institutions. voice/videoconferencing,
all Jon’s contacts, subscriptions I think it is unlikely that filesharing, calendaring,
and documents) by a wireless most will be able to resolve tasklists.
connection that Jon paid for the perceived security threats Employees maintain a
personally. in such a way that they could “Company Sector” on their
Because all Jon’s outgoing allow the Jons of the world to machines in which they
emails came from his own do what they want inside the put information that can
machine, 90 percent of the firewall. be accessed 24/7 by other
email he was receiving from What is more likely is that, employees.
fellow employees was now just like the calculator and Most people also maintain
being sent to his personal telephone, the laptop (soon a “Public Sector” on their
email address (most people to become even smaller and machines in which they
didn’t notice or care that Jon’s more powerful) will evolve put information that can be
‘reply to’ email address on his to be a ubiquitous personal accessed 24/7 or subscribed
messages wasn’t his company device that people will carry to by anyone in the world
email address). with them everywhere. (this has replaced blogs and
Ten of his co-workers at At that point having
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the company had followed redundant computers (and
his two-computer example, phones) on everyone’s desk
and were using IM rather will become absurd, and IT
than email for their security can start to focus on
communications. The boss protecting confidential data
asked whether it didn’t take a from being accessed, rather
lot of time to transfer between than trying to lock down
the two machines, and Jon employees’ appliances.
replied “Less and less all the At that point, the role
time.” of the rest of IT,
Jon’s boss left the office and KM, will
unsure whether to praise have to change
Jon for his innovative completely.
workaround, or report him Here’s a
to IT to make sure Jon wasn’t scenario of how
exposing the company to I think it might look:
security risks.
OrgInfoFlows2
Major information flows in
This is a composite of a
organizations, c. 2025?
number of real cases of young
people working around In 2025, every
dysfunctional information individual in every
systems I have witnessed in organization uses his or
the last two years. I expect it’s her own personal computer
for both personal and
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How ordinary smart people will change the organization
CONTINUED Most of what the KM They facilitate many
applications like Facebook), department does now is meetings that use the
and Community Sectors in trying to facilitate more virtual presence application,
which they put information effective conversations especially those that involve
that can be accessed 24/7 among people within the more than five people.
by other members of that organization and with people That facilitation includes
Community. outside the organization, organizing the meeting,
Dave Pollard
The aggregation of the including customers. distributing advance
is former chief
Company Sectors of all materials, facilitating the
knowledge
employees of an organization discussion (conflict resolution,
officer of Ernst &
replaces the corporate Intranet staying on schedule, etc.), and
Young, coaches Publisher’s note: Thus
of past generations; it can be even recording, editing and
entrepreneurs ends a realistic view of the
viewed by anyone in that publishing the meeting as
and writes “How current and future work
organization. appropriate.
to Save the culture based on social,
The aggregation of the They run courses in
World” which political and economic
Community Sectors of all effective conversation,
ranks high on trends. If 2025 ends up as
members of a particular meeting and presentation
the blog lists in Dave Pollard envisions it,
community replaces the skills.
Canada – http:// the impetus will be a natural
community tools (forums, In addition, the KM
blogs.salon. adaptation to a changing
wikis, etc.) of past generations; department conducts
com/0002007 human environment and
it can be viewed by anyone in environmental scans and
that community. driven by a some pioneering
conducts research in areas the
The IT department is still organizations and a bounty
organization wants to focus
responsible for maintaining of smart people, not the
on, and publishes and runs
security around the least of which are the digital
short video presentations on
organization’s proprietary natives described in this
the results.
information, but very little issue’s Manifesto (pg. 6).
They also browse the
content is left in this category. content of the aggregate
IT also checks that the Dave Pollard was dis-
of the Company Sectors
information in employees couraged by the idea of a
of all employees of the
machines’ Company Sectors is magazine to help people
organization, notifying
appropriate for sharing, and understand the promise of
managers and employees of
auto-replicating properly. personal knowledge man-
content that may be worthy
The KM department still agement. Those of us who
of follow-up, and they assist
manages the purchase of have launched Smart Peo-
employees to manage their
external information, though ple Magazine are, perhaps,
subscriptions to people’s
almost all information in a bit more reckless. But
Public Sector content.
2025 is free; information then our scars in the battle
And, when the
producers have realized that of Knowledge Management
organization holds sessions
their business model is to aren’t quite as deep.
and conferences on strategy,
apply that information to risk, innovation or customer
specific customers’ business relationships, the KM
environment, in consulting department is on hand to
assignments, rather than do advance and just-in-time
trying to sell publications. research.
Most of the mainstream
media were nationalized after
they went bankrupt using
their traditional business
models, and now operate as
public services.

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