Free Your Users From Knowledge Jail in 2014

By Marc Solomon posted 12-29-2013 10:33


What do New Years Resolutions have in common with the more open-ended promises in your 2014 ECM budget? For starters there's that sloppy cultural workplace setting filed under "Change Management." The subtext? Rebrand "the change" as "the way things should have been all along."

We all know the well-trodden grounds of failed rollouts and resolutions. We've all heard the indictable track record on deployments running the tracks. So let's evidence change management from the user perspective. Then let's see how that situates into our more reasoned ECM resolutions, no?

Macro Managers

According to bureaucratic behaviorists, the best way to align selfishness with the common good is to change the next move status of taxpayers, citizens, scofflaws, and organ donors so that everyone wants in on the action. Participation is the default setting, not the card they might play in some future hand. Fear of commitment is no match for the power of suggestion.

For instance, legacy giving doubles when slipping in this question directed to someone already plodding their own last will and testament: Do you wish to leave part of your estate to charity?. Giving to charity triples when we qualify the ask with the reassurance that many of us give money to groups as well as loved ones. Here's the kicker: we ask what causes they care about. Turning the tables so that folks see themselves as beneficiaries of their own contributions is another individual step in a collective direction.

In another bit of clever manipulation to encourage organ donation, the script went something like this: “If you needed an organ transplant ... "Would you take one?” According to the anonymously submitted article in the 12/7/13 New York Times, scaled up to the whole population of Britain, this could add 96,000 extra organ-donor registrations a year. Talk about a life-safing move that requires no face-saving gesture. You could argue with the priorities but not with the brilliant math for using personal honor as the catalyst for benefiting the larger community's.

A Nudge, and Then a Wink

Us ECM managers know all about the powers of nudge. That's because we're on the side of the right thing to do which is not necessarily the cheapest, fastest, most obvious, memorable, or self-gratifying thing to do. The way we align our internal knowledge platforms with the more intuitively-learning priorities of our colleagues is to recast change as a friend of their future. This is the one that's free of frittering time away in knowledge jail:

* Searching for stuff they can't find
* Ending up with stuff they can't use
* Wondering why the reward for being curious and proactive feels more like a punishment
* Fretting over the fact that the results raise more questions than answers
* That the best stuff sits in some unknowable location to both us and the guy pumping the search engine gas

The surest, most direct way to nudge that sensitive change management zone in a positive direction is to cater to your users' sense of ECM justice -- a world in which machines labor to serve humans -- not the same exchange flipped around so that we're repeating the failure behaviors of past rollouts.

It's far easier to convince our users that our systems have failed them is that unbalanced steady state and that the natural order of things will be restored in that next rollout. The one that actually saves on effort, whatever the gains happen to be.

The Roadmap to the Off Ramp

The single most convincing way to get our folks to use the systems we build them is to let them logoff from them. ASAP stickiness  might be what an e-tailer or a social media enclave  builds into the obsessional vanity of being in the loop (at the lowerst price). But in our virtual office parks, scrolling sales items, cute pet pix, stylized profiles are not the kind of attention most intranet teams (and corporate managers) want to attract.

The justification for what we do inside our gabled firewalls and cloud-based carve-outs is personal and expedient. It isn't based on maintaining the most assets, classifying the largest collections, or even affording the fastest and widest access  to our divergent and distracted userbase. It's that our folks can logoff with the confidence they're now informed about whatever inspired them to logon.

Except for the people who build and maintain them, ECMs are not destinations or even journeys but isolated check-ins:

How do I bring the best of my organization to a problem I would have otherwise needed to fix in isolation?

Our users don't expect a custom-ready roadmap for every search or manifest on every potentially useful experience that could be brought to bear. They're not looking for the grand plan or the master design. They're looking for the off ramp so they can put their own stamp on the challenges at-hand.

To treat ECMs otherwise not only inflates their importance in the eyes of our peers but undermines their utility as document repositories, message centers and even score settlers that only systems of record (as John Mancini might say) can decide.

#knowledgemanagement #needsassessment #KM #implementation #budget #deployment #ECM #usersurvey #culture