The APQC Blog

Working Out Loud Is KM’s Most Transformative Trend

Last week I had the pleasure of recording a podcast with Stan Garfield, a long-time community leader, experienced speaker, and prolific author in the knowledge management space. I asked Stan about the latest developments in knowledge management, and he shared his top 10 list of trends and hot topics.

  1. There is currently a lot of buzz around the ideas of digital workplace and digital transformation, including both new platforms to help us do our work and the change management required to get people to adopt those tools and use them routinely.
  2. Working Out Loud is a growing movement that encourages employees to narrate their work and broadcast what they’re doing so others can interact, respond, learn, and apply that knowledge to their own work.
  3. Community management is emerging as a formal discipline where community managers are formally trained, developed, and assigned to full-time roles to oversee both internal communities of practice and external brand and marketing-oriented communities.
  4. Cognitive computing and artificial intelligence are being used to automate certain KM tasks and augment knowledge-related decision making.
  5. There is increased attention on analytics and business intelligence, which help KM use data to derive insights and inform actions and decisions.
  6. More organizations are adopting enterprise social networks, especially Microsoft and Workplace by Faceboook, as a better user interface for online threaded discussions. This allows KM to take advantage of the fact that almost everyone is using social media outside of work to drive adoption of similar behaviors inside the enterprise.
  7. Chat tools such as Slack, which are used predominately for team interaction, are gaining in popularity as well. These tools are great in that they encourage collaboration, but can prove confusing for users if they grow up alongside an organization’s enterprise social network.
  8. Gamification and digital badging are new ways of framing incentives to recognize people for performing the knowledge-sharing and collaborative behaviors the organization wants to see.  
  9. Agile methodology originated in software development but is now being applied more broadly across the enterprise. Agile is a way to think about engaging customers in the process of developing systems and processes for them and incorporating iterative feedback into designs.  
  10. Mobile apps and the bring your own device (BYOD) trend are reactions to more and more people using smart phones and tablets for work. KM must ensure that knowledge systems are optimized for mobile so that knowledge is accessible through the devices and platforms people want to use.

When I asked Stan which KM trend he thought was the most transformative, his answer—which focused on Working Out Loud—both surprised me and made perfect sense. I was thinking about the trends most likely to change the KM discipline, but Stan interpreted the question with a broader lens and talked about more fundamental shifts in how people communicate and get work done.

“The power contained in [Working Out Loud] is that organizations tend to be insular—they have hierarchies, people communicate only in narrow groups, and there is still prevalent use of email instead of enterprise social networks for more transparent communication,” he said. “There’s lip service given to the idea of using an enterprise social network, but then people revert to their old ways of communicating in small groups. I only send the email to people I know and trust, and I don’t want anybody else to know.”

“If we’re going to have a true digital transformation … we need to move from a need-to-know basis to need-to-share. That’s a radical change that organizations aren’t really ready for, but if … we can work more transparently… that has a chance to make a major change in organizations being much more effective than the way we’ve traditionally worked.”

To hear more of my conversation with Stan, stream or download the podcast below. And if you want to talk to us about all things KM, Stan and I will be kicking off the communities and collaboration track at APQC’s 23rd Annual Knowledge Management Conference April 16-20 in Houston.

You can follow Stan on Twitter @stangarfield and me @LTrees_KM