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Written by Corina Mihaela Paraschiv   
Tuesday, 11 December 2007 00:43

 

        So you want to implement a new system that would help, via technology, to transfer the knowledge from one member to the other in your organization.  There are however three main difficulties you will run into : getting people in your club to adopt the new system, maintaing your system up to date, and monitoring the information flow.  Here's a little how-to guide when it comes to giving your new system the best chances of succeeding.

 

  1. Get people in your club to use the new systems in place

    First it's about getting people who are not used to information technologies to accept to learn how to use it and to actually use the thing. Our club found that the easiest way to get everyone connected was to use a tool people were already familiar with for personal purposes – such as MSN, Facebook, emails – we got a highest rate of success, although some members still are not active with those technologies and pose a logistic problem in terms of getting information accross to them. A sub-group, the Strategic Planning committee, of our club, has a full groupware system implemented, by the name of Airset, with integrated calendar, file-sharing system, private blog, emailing center and announcements page to keep track of the work they are doing. If there are units of your club that seem particularly agile with technology, you can implement a system for them only to enable them to share more information.


    The biggest problem however, is not the reluctance to use technology, it is the reluctance to share knowledge in the first place. I've seen this mostely in highly politicized organizations, where knowledge is often a way of maintaing power. It will be a tough sale for a president to implement such an information-sharing culture in such a context but he is the only one who has the power to do so. I've seen many instances where club members were upset because of their inability to access good quality information to do their job correctly – and there simply was no other way than having their president intervene and encourage their coworkers to share the knowledge.

  2. Maintain the system up to date

    Nothing looks worse than a system not maintained up to date. First having a dead blog or a dead chatroom or a dead wall on Facebook says something very strong about your organization: that it's as good as dead. If you opt for one of those tools, make sure it is used weekly by members. To go aroung this problem we've actually required executive members to post at least one comment on facebook every week – and it worked. Facebook for a period of time was a very active place and discussions fostered both information sharing and friendships. As soon as the executives changed and the policy was dropped, however, so did the participation on Facebook. Policies must support the information-sharing culture you are trying to foster.


    Another point is that information is timely. It is only good for a period of time, and the skills of people coming into your club also change with expeirence and exposure to your organization. Trends also change with time so a popular way of doing recruitement can be completley changed a few years from now. For all these reasons, it is important that you view this as an ongoing process. You can't implement this project one semester and then declare you've done your work.

  3. Monitoring the information flow

    The Platform you are reading right now is an example of a knowledge management system to facilitate transfering knowledge amonst executives, presidents, district and national representatives of various organizations such as Scouts, Rotaract, Leo's Clubs, AISEC and university-based clubs. One of the challenges we've had from the very beggining was how to monitor the flow of information and the classification of our articles so that the website may be user-friendly and the information, easily accessible, both in content and in form. We came up with categories that defined the different facets of the life of leaders, and we also tagged our articles with key words for the search engine to describe the kind of situation a leader is in. For instance, some articles are tagged with the keyword “harmony” to describe leaders who seek out harmony in their organizations. With a lot of data inflow, managing the information itself is very difficult. It must be intuitive and your system must be built thinking about the future. For instance we wanted to branch out into making videos and producing various other formats like ppts, so from the beggining, even though we were only writing word-like documents. A question that was brought early on by the participants with technical backgrounds was whether the system would support that much data, whether it would allow embed videos, and whether there was a way of increasing the memory we initially received from our host server. Think ahead.

    Something you also have to watch out is investing too much time into something that doesn't amount to anything; make sure the issues you are tackling are actually relevant. A way you can do this is by asking your other president friends in other organizations “what are the top 3 issues you're struggling with?” or to put actual executive members or people with pervious leadership experience in other organizations in the project to make sure the needs are real.

 

 

 
 

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