The Human (Dog) Factor of Knowledge Discovery

I spend a lot of time on this blog writing about technical solutions, using machines to solve our problems and the fact that there are ways to solve the knowledge sharing problem within an organization. However, we must not forgot one very important part of working in an office as well, the human factor.

I would like to think that for the many years that the CluedIn team collectively has spent working within an office can simply translate to years of more hands on research in the field of knowledge management. After all, there is no better research than hands on experience. For our research on interaction styles, knowledge exchange in teams and the human side of “the organization”, we took a quantitive and empirical approach to the assessment of cultures within and organization. Hence the outcome of our experiences and research are somewhat statistical in nature but still heavily considers the human side.

The solution to workplace knowledge sharing is an admirable task, ambitious and bold. We have identified that the technical solution is only one part of the overall problem solver. Our research and experiences could generate a list that could take you to the moon and back, however one idea resonated strongly with every team member.

There is so much positivity that comes with involving people.

Whether it is simply showing the intention that someones opinion would be valued or keeping people informed of decisions that are being made within the business, keeping people involved, in the loop, in the know, up-to date – this is kind of action that make people want to put their life into their career. Don’t get me wrong, our goal is not to turn everyone into workaholics, quite the contrary. It is to help people feel valued and at the same time give value back to the workplace. All the money in the world can not top the feeling of working on something and feeling valued.

At CluedIn we have embraced the idea that sharing knowledge is a lot more than just connecting systems. In fact, predominantly it is about connecting people. I don’t just mean in the technical sense, that is what tools like Yammer, Slack, Google Hangouts and FaceTime is for. I mean facilitating the connections at work that are intrinsically difficult or awkward just because of the way we are.

Let me give you a practical example. Imagine using CluedIn to discover discussions that are happening in the workplace about an upcoming project. If you are like me, then you typically switch teams a lot and every new project brought a new team. I don’t agree that this approach is a good one at all, this was just the status quo.  The instant questions that would always pass through my mind when this happened were:

  • Ok, will we get on?
  • What are their skill sets?
  • Will we clash in anyway?
  • Do we have things in common?
  • Is there a natural leader in the pack?

Up until now, I have never been able to confidently and properly answer these questions. Ever. History typically repeats itself, and the outcome of this is that people just hit the ground running and hope for the best. Then we wonder why we spend more time fighting fires than actually producing work when we get into the dirty parts of a piece of work.

Think of CluedIn as the knowledge bank of all these types of answers. Imaging that you can use CluedIn to discover more about your co-workers, their skill sets, what they work on and actually see their work as well. Can you imagine the barriers that would be broken just from this?

Let me give you another example.

I will be as honest as I can be in these posts, the number of times I have heard someone say “What the hell does that guy even do?” and I am also guilty of exactly the same thing! Do you know how destructive this is in a workplace? The problem is, that no-one actually really knows! You can’t judge anyone at work like this as you simply cannot know! Enter CluedIn, a repository of everyones work, meetings, discussions – so if interested you could get a feel of how and what type of work people produce. These kind of questions are no longer needed to be pondered with CluedIn, our aim is for CluedIn to be open, knowledge driven and embrace the human side of work.

So in essence, there are huge knowledge discovery gains to be made by using the CluedIn platform, but more importantly there is the idea that we could connect people in ways that innately just would not have eventuated without it- and I think that, of all things, is a beautiful thing.

Tim Ward

Founder, Developer and Loudest Employee at CluedIn.