About being sensible

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How we are improving access to our collective knowledge

Deirdre Wilson – Monday, March 07, 2016   


Take a moment to think what would happen if every question that is asked and answered in your organisation could be stored and searched later on. How much knowledge could you collect?

In our office we ask each other a lot of questions. A whole heap of them have been asked before. Why are we asking each other the same questions? Maybe because the answers don't seem important enough to remember (busy brain), because there is someone available to ask (lazy brain!). Either way it is unproductive and really annoying.

We have a wiki in our office and it is horrible. It sits on our server so is not accessible outside the office, it requires a login method different to everything else and it's ugly and cumbersome to use. No surprise then that it doesn't get used a lot. We do store a heap of really useful processes and info in it and do go to it for that content when we need it. But it is no good for those annoying little questions.

On the way to finding a better solution to our internal messaging program I found much better tools for collecting and storing our knowledge. The solution most readily available to us when we set up our original knowledge base was a wiki. But now cards and boards - like Trello - have become popular and this has spawned a bunch of Trello-like tools.

Long story short, I have replaced Messages with Slack and added Guru as the first interface with our knowledge base. Slack and Guru integrate so that you can search Guru from within Slack. Using Slack allows us to have channels of communication around topics such as jobs or lunch orders for the day. We can also message everyone at once or have individual conversations. This, in addition to the 'interrupt on the hour policy'  allows everyone to have uninterrupted time to concentrate on work - if we only check messages on the hour.

What Guru allows us to do is collect those little bits of info we keep asking each other, tag them and sort them under broad headings. Tagging is the superpower of knowledge management. Adding tags to content whether they are bits of info or pics or any other digital assets makes them heaps easier to find. The other rather delightful thing we can do from within Guru is to create a question, nominate a staff member to answer it then that becomes content that can be found later on when someone else has the same question.

We still have our wiki. It is a good place to store complex, long info. It is not necessary to chuck out the past, sometimes all that is required is to have a better interface on the front.

Further Reading

How to find stuff in the craziness of an office space?? Here's more help...
- When is the right time to document the hell out of stuff?


This post is by Deirdre Wilson, Director of Hothouse Design – Australia's most sensible information design company.
Deirdre applies her background in industrial design and design management to the complex and wondrous projects undertaken by Hothouse Design.

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