Knowledge-Sharing Utopia

Consortium Members gathered virtually in June 2023 to discuss the next generation of knowledge sharing. Together we explored the relationship between product and support knowledge and how in-product support is evolving. New contexts, applications, and technology create opportunities and challenge us to question long-standing assumptions. Members can access recordings and notes of these sessions on the wiki (message us for help accessing)!

A group of Consortium Members on Zoom in June 2023

We began by asking: “what could a knowledge-sharing utopia look like?” The group captured 80+ statements as we considered utopia from the perspectives of the customer, the employee, and the business.

Some highlights…

What could a knowledge-sharing utopia look like from a customer perspective?

  • Easily and intuitively explorable while retaining customer context and showing connections to more info
  • Ability to request content / content changes about a specific topic and track progress
  • Easily know what issues can be self-served vs. what must be handled by a human
  • Always serving easily consumable information with the option to dig deeper

What could a knowledge-sharing utopia look like from an employee perspective?

  • Knowledge is captured directly from the work being done without extra steps or effort
  • Automatically identify duplicate content across content teams and systems
  • Clear insight into the usefulness and effectiveness of the content one creates/edits
  • Working and living in an environment where open sharing is how we make others and ourselves productive, successful, and capable
  • Boundaries between people and teams with knowledge no longer exist

What could a knowledge-sharing utopia look like from a business perspective?

  • What’s best for the business is what’s best for the customer
  • No need to convince employees to share knowledge – it just happens organically
  • Open sharing between vendor and customer that make both parties more successful
  • Content from all business units aligned across the customer journey
  • People do people things – everything else is automated

Knowledge-sharing is converging

When we consider the three perspectives together, a theme of convergence seems to be emerging as the lines between these groups blur. Customers want visibility into the business. Employees want lower effort that has previously been prioritized for customers. The business benefits from unlocking potential from both customers and employees.

With convergence in mind, let’s look at some knowledge-sharing utopia statements that apply to all…

  • Confidence in decisions
  • Same goal(s) across the board
  • Before you even know you need it, the info is delivered to you

How close are you to a knowledge-sharing utopia? What’s standing in the way? 

Universal truths about knowledge delivery

We spent time considering knowledge delivery in a few different settings to uncover what might remain constant even as things rapidly change.

First, it is important to acknowledge that our current abilities for knowledge sharing are somewhat revolutionary. This change is still unsettling for many because individual knowledge used to be how folks would secure a position of value in an organization. Sharing more knowledge can feel like a loss of control. Fortunately, Knowledge Management has helped transform that impression and reinforced the value of sharing knowledge – at least internally.

Now, perhaps the next wave of expanded knowledge sharing is with customers. Companies fear losing control by sharing too much. But if the knowledge is getting out there anyway, companies might as well embrace it and work with it instead of against.

Among the still maturing knowledge economy, some universal truths stand out:

  • Understand customer context and user intent in their moment of need
  • Allow for journeys where the customer specifically knows what they want as well as when they do not and are are exploring options
  • Incentives shape behavior (for better and for worse)
  • Aim to understand or set expectations around knowledge delivery so you can match them – the appropriate amount of time/effort may be higher or lower depending on context
  • The ultimate judge of value of knowledge delivery is the person receiving it
  • The “user” can be a requester or a responder who needs access to relevant knowledge

A final thought about utopia

A knowledge-sharing utopia is not a destination but will be an ongoing journey that adapts to ever-evolving contexts and customer expectations. As we move forward through change, let’s be guided by this excellent observation by a Member:

A flow of new ideas is not a negative judgment of the previous ideas and decisions – no hard feeling upon changes.

We will continue to explore these ideas with Consortium Members, who test within their environments and generously share their learnings back with our community. Sign up for our newsletter or check our events page for upcoming opportunities to explore with us!

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