Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Social Networking and KM

When you look at or, almost every member has hundreds of "friends." Those friends form an extended social network that aids in connections, knowledge transfer, knowledge growth and knowledge dissemination. In other words, social networks contribute to, assist in and sometimes hinder knowledge management. To manage knowledge, you have to know what people know. But what people know often depends on who they know, and who they interact with regularly. Since knowledge is often socially constructed, particularly in an organizational context, being able to map out who knows what and whom through Social Network Analysis (SNA) greatly aids in knowledge management and HR decisions (Patton, 2006). Harnessing the tool of social networking in business can allow an organization to identify gaps in communication and then to encourage fruitful collaboration between similar groups (Patton, 2006).
Problems such as loss of expertise (due to employee attrition or HR decisions), duplicative efforts to address similar problems, disconnected and unproductive individuals and decreased motivation to work can be anticipated and preemptively handled through SNA (Patton, 2006). By tracking collaboration and communication between different individuals, teams, units, branches or offices, management can see the actual information flows in an organization, whether or not that matches organizational charts (Patton, 2006). Furthermore, social network analysis can be made fun and interesting, encouraging cross-organizational collaboration. Even better, that collaboration can be tracked, evaluated and shaped in ways beneficial both to the organization as a whole and for individual employee or team-level development and growth (Patton, 2006).

From: Patton, Susannah. "Who knows whom, and who knows what?" CIO, June 15, 2006. Available:

[Summary by: Caroline]

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