Originally posted 09-Feb-23

Stan Garfield

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In Part 2 and Part 3 of this series, I discussed the types of content and information to capture as part of a knowledge management program. This fourth and final part covers input.

Capturing input involves getting feedback from the people you serve on the services you provide to them. This includes soliciting their recommendations for improvements and capturing their stories about how they use your services and the associated benefits.

Feedback

Capturing feedback is asking for suggestions on what your library or information center can do better and how to improve things. You should also provide a way to submit corrections. If there is incorrect information in a knowledge base, you want to know so you can correct it. If there is missing information in a repository, or there are resources not currently available in the library that would be useful, there should be a way of alerting you to this. And if your users have additional content and information they wish to supply, you should make it easy for them to do so.

A proven way to capture feedback is to use surveys. You can use one-time or periodic user surveys to determine user preferences, needs, and challenges and to determine how people view your library and its assets.

Surveys are essential tools to ensure that your library or information center meets the needs of the organization. You should also develop processes for soliciting ongoing suggestions and submitting change requests.

Implement a regular satisfaction survey to solicit feedback on how users perceive your library. Use this survey to stay in touch with how your users view the library, what they like, and what needs to be improved. This is particularly important over time as the expectations of your end-users change due to comfort with technology, and other (often generational) attributes.

Recommendations

Enabling the capture of user recommendations can increase the effectiveness of your library and lead to greater use of its assets. To enable users to easily find important content, add a button for each library asset with labels such as:

  • Valuable
  • I reused this
  • I found this useful

Allow users to tag content with one or more of these attributes:

  • Recommended
  • Good example
  • Proven practice

Let your users click the buttons and add the tags to show which assets they downloaded, checked out, or referred to and that proved useful to them. This is similar to a like button, but it has a very specific meaning. This will allow people to search for and find content tagged with these attributes, with the most useful assets quickly surfacing.

Users often ask for content rating systems for one to five stars similar to the user ratings offered by sites such as Amazon, but that is ineffective when not at scale. The percentage of people who actually rate items on Amazon is small, but because there are so many total users, the number is large enough to matter.

The scale of the Internet is far greater than that of most organizations. Inside a company, the percentage of people who might actually rate a document is tiny. Therefore, the number of ratings given to any document in a repository may not be sufficient to yield useful results and will typically be either one or five.

Determining a star rating is hard. Users have to struggle with, “Is this three or four or five?” so they just avoid it. A simple question such as, “Were you able to reuse this document?” is easier to answer, similar to a like button. If you click a like button, you don’t have to think too hard about it. You either like it or not.

Avoid implementing content ratings within your organization. Here are three reasons:

  • The value of a document is unknown until after it has been downloaded and read. There is a lag between the time it is accessed and the time a rating can fairly be made, and the user may no longer be logged into the repository at the time the rating could be applied.
  • Within an enterprise, the user identity is generally known. Thus, users may be unwilling to give a bad rating since they would become known to the document contributor and possibly suffer negative social consequences.
  • The number of people who might actually rate any given site or document is too low to be statistically significant.

Stories

Stories are the ways people talk about how they have done something. There are stories about successes and stories about failures. There are stories that explain how to do something and stories used to help capture what people know before they depart from an organization.

As people retire or move on from jobs, most organizations want to be able to retain their knowledge for reuse after they leave. Capturing their stories could be through writing, audio recording, or video. Ask people to tell stories on community calls, in apprenticeships, and in recorded videos.

One type of input to prioritize is the success story. There are two types of success stories to capture. Stories that impart valuable lessons should be collected, stored, and promoted. Moreover, you should regularly request from your users stories that show the value of your library or information center — and then use them in your communications efforts.

When capturing library success stories, ask the following questions:

  1. What challenges did you face?
  2. What library resources did you use?
  3. How did you use these resources to address these challenges?
  4. What was the outcome?
  5. What benefits did you realize from using the resources? (e.g., time saved, costs avoided, incremental revenue, problems avoided, increased customer satisfaction, accelerated delivery, innovation, process improvement, etc.)
  6. What benefits did you and your organization derive?
  7. Did anyone else benefit as well (e.g., a community)?
  8. What alternatives (instead of using the library resources) did you consider?
  9. Which alternatives did you try?
  10. If you did not use the library resources, how do you think the outcome would have been different?

This concludes the initial series on The Five Cs of KM. You can view my webinar on the first C: Capture, where I present on the topics covered in this series. And read the next series of blog posts where I discuss the second C: Curate.

The Five Cs of KM

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Stan Garfield

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/