Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Prairie Doggin'

Anyone who has worked in a "modern" office environment can appreciate the phenomenon that occurs with workers and their cubicles, especially when they are trying to solve a problem new to them: prairie doggin'

This is when an employee pops up to see if their neighbor has a tactic or solution that would help them solve their problem.

In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, The Cost of Knowledge (November 2006), Al Jacobson and Laurence Prusak make the following statement:

"'Knowledge management' in organizations has become synonymous with 'knowledge searching.' Web crawlers and other data-mining programs swarm over terabytes of documents and e-mails looking for clues that can help connect information seekers with sources. Clever icons adorning desktops promise to instantly deliver users to the right expert."

They go on to state that by the year 2010 the sale of enterprise information-search systems will grow, tripling its current value to $2.6 billion.

The breakdown by how "knowledge workers" spend their time include:

  • 6.2% scheduling meetings with experts

  • 10.2% searching for knowledge

  • 37.7% eliciting knowledge from experts (aka prairie doggin')

  • 45.9% adapting knowledge gained

  • How do some of the new tools introduced by social networking technologies (e.g., instant messaging, blogging, podcasts) factor in to the "daily workflow" of information searching, analysis and application? In other words, do these help "speed" up the search for information and solutions?


    Anonymous said...

    Instant Message is the virtual 'prairie dog'. Need a link you cannot find? IM your buddy. Need to remember the name of someone who is in charge of a project? IM your buddy.

    Knowledge management is a huge item as people in the workplace are expected to know more. (I won't even open the conversation of retiring boomers...oops! I just did!)

    SN is critical to Knowledge Management, especailly as much of the info that needs to be managed in an organization can be found online.

    Anonymous said...

    I second what Lori says about IM. It seems acceptable in a business environment to expect the person you're chatting with to drop everything because you've IM'ed them... similar to popping by their cube. Telephone and email are less urgent means of communication and information sharing.

    What is critical to Knowledge Management is the capture of information as well as sharing between two or more people.

    Stephen said...


    From my perspective, it seems that the key difference is around the formality of the mediums.

    The workplace has progressively moved away from formal communication (memos) and even dress and IM has emerged as the "natural" medium for people to communicate ad hoc.

    Once we understand what we say or write is for public consumption (e.g., knowledge management) it seems we shy away from contributing....KM solutions have also not proved to be reliable or user-friendly.