My buddy Mary Abraham started a blog: Above and Beyond KM, a discussion of knowledge management that goes above and beyond technology. Mary has often been a rudder keeping our knowledge management groups focused on knowledge management and not on the technology.
Mary and I were recently sparring over whether lawyers are good at sharing knowledge. Being at a big law firm, I see lots of sharing. Senior lawyers must share with the junior lawyers on their team if they want the junior lawyers to get anything done. I see lots of requests for information in emails. (Unfortunately, I rarely see the responses. More on that below.)
Sharing happens in the law firm at several levels: between a junior lawyer and their mentor, among peers, within a matter team, within a client team, within a practice, and across the firm. I believe the most effective sharing is the sharing among smaller groups. So, I see much more sharing within the matter team than within a client team. It is just human nature and the nature of sharing.
But, I am firm believer that we are missing some technology tools to make sharing easier and more effective. We need better tools for the small groups to share their information within the group, but also allow the entire firm to access that sharing.
Unfortunately, the default way of sharing in a law firm is by email. I long lost count of the requests to better capture email to share the knowledge and information in the email. The problem is not sharing the email; the problem is the email itself. It is just not a good way to share.
That is why I am so excited about Enterprise 2.0 tools. They combine the communication power of email with the sharing and finding powers of the web. In particular, blogs and wikis make it very easy to share information and do so in a way that it seems very close and focused on what the smaller group is doing. But, all of that information in the blog or wiki is easily findable and useable by others in the firm who are not part of the smaller group.