Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Combining Social Collaboration with Knowledge Management

Image by Setsiri Silapasuwanchai, from pandodaily
As SideMark’s Knowledge Management Specialist, I firmly believe that an organization’s best source of knowledge is in the minds of its employees. Unfortunately, most of us can’t read minds, and we don’t have the budget to hire a mind-reader! Thankfully, we now have the social platform, an enormously valuable tool that can facilitate that immediate mind-capture.

Beyond a company’s standard processes, the most useful knowledge comes out of people, often unexpectedly. It’s not planned, organized, or well thought-out. It often comes
out in response to a problem or issue that occurs within a project. The challenge is to capture the knowledge immediately, in the heat of the situation, and get it in a place where others can easily access it later. Otherwise, two things typically will happen: 1) The knowledge will remain hidden in an employee’s mind or a folder on the “network,” or even worse, on their computer’s hard drive. 2) Later, someone will try to re-create the situation that triggered the knowledge reveal. Undoubtedly, this process will miss a critical component and the only lesson learned is that we should have captured the knowledge to begin with.

The challenge for today’s companies is getting critical employees to embrace the idea of social collaboration and knowledge sharing: getting them comfortable with the idea and familiar with the software such as Yammer, Chatter and Social Knowledgebase, as well as cultivating a routine of accessing the software and posting information. We can throw all the technology out there that we want to, but what good is it if our people won’t respect its value or try to embrace it?

At the same time, new technology alone isn’t the answer. The younger generation of workers has that comfort level with new technologies, but they don’t have the experience, the background or the historical knowledge to effectively contribute to the social aspect. This brings us back to an idea that has been suggested in years past: two-way mentoring. Should the new generation of workers be mentoring our seasoned employees and vice versa? The answer is absolutely.

“Old-fashioned methods,” a term often thrown out negatively these days, are portrayed as antiquated, with no real place in today’s tech-savvy world. But some people like old-fashioned things, and indeed other trends are headed back in that direction. We’ve all heard the word “vintage” and taken that to mean cool and edgy, let alone the proliferation of crafting, canning and other hand-made products filling retail shelves. As important as it is to embrace the future of social networking and collaboration, it is equally important to understand our roots and where we came from. To me, that is the true challenge. Once we are able to capture, merge and utilize these two schools of thought, our problems will be solved.

- Danielle Jenkins


About the Author:
Danielle Jenkins, Knowledge Management Specialist, has held numerous roles within SideMark. From Designer, to Manager, to Account & Sales Support, she has built a wide breadth of knowledge of the inner workings of SideMark. She is the administrator and trainer for SharePoint, Salesforce and iPads. Her days are spent researching the latest and greatest technologies and tools for effective knowledge sharing. Danielle holds a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology, with a minor in Business Administration. To contact Danielle, email her at


  1. I'm merged already, aren't I?

  2. As someone who has successfully brought some experienced based "Old fashioned methods" to a project and shown the kids that Old Guys can be cool just using their experience. Great job Danielle!!

  3. Bruce, blending generational knowledge is crucial to knowledge management. Glad to see that you brought some "old-fashioned methods" to a project and they were well received. Although it may seem counterintuitive, it can sometimes be important to take a step back and remember the basics in order to move forward.

  4. I wholeheartedly agree. This is a wonderfully written article which touches on some great points that are completely relevant to the Now Companies and how business is conducted, customers reached, and networks built. So, now we must contemplate the solution to the following challenge:

    "The challenge for today’s companies is getting critical employees to embrace the idea of social collaboration and knowledge sharing."

    As I see it, the solution can only be brought forth after the "two-way mentoring" system is realized.

    Let's get started!

  5. We love the enthusiasm, Melissa! Workplace mentors used to be older and higher up the ranks than their mentees, but not anymore! Perhaps this kind of mentoring could lead to reduced turnover from younger employees, who gain a sense of purpose. 2 years ago Cisco introduced a Reverse Mentoring program to encourage inclusion and diversity. Read more about it here:


    See the infographic with how social tools are deployed in the workplace around the world!