Social Intranets Enable Knowledge Management

A few weeks ago I was fortunate to see Gordon Ross speak on a panel talking about the social intranet and KM for legal knowledge management practitioners in the public sector. Ross is a partner with the Vancouver-based consulting firm Open Road and the Vice President responsible for strategy and professional services for their social intranet platform ThoughtFarmer. He has written a blog post outlining his thoughts from that talk: How Social Intranets can Support Legal Knowledge Management.

While the post is quite a theoretical discussion, pointing to thinking by Max Boisot in his 1998 book Knowledge Assets around “the I-Space; a 3-dimensional conceptual framework that contemplates how knowledge exists across 3 different axes,” Ross also points to the practical. He makes the link between the social intranet, how the ease of the social intranet interface allows for less structured forms of communication such as storytelling, and allows for more engagement than our more static, structured systems.

In his blog post, he says:

My hypothesis is that social intranets afford an alternative way to codify what you know, typically via first-person narrative (blogging), story-telling, less formal, less “structured” means of expression (or let’s say less “fielded” in that last bit, as all stories clearly have intricate and meaningful structures). Going back to the principles of KM, these modes of expression are closer to speaking; and as such, help get us closer to “what we know” if we believe that we truly “know more than we say and say more than we write down.”

In other words, the social intranet is easier to use, so more people will use it to share what they know.

Social is now just a “baked-in” part of most new intranets, but it has yet to make a strong impact across the legal industry. However, as intranets develop we can expect to see more of the enterprise social aspect.

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