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Paradigm

ReachOut calls for a paradigm shift in Knowledge Management, by encouraging users to pose questions and seek the advice of fellow workers. While 'common practice' today suggests first looking for information on the Internet or the organization's intranet, we suggest turning directly to the people.

  • People within one's group may not only have the needed information, but by direct interaction, they can help formulate it into relevant knowledge.
  • Most people will be willing to share their knowledge and experience, the incentive being good will, social capital, and personal prestige.
  • Turning to people may not only speed finding solutions, it can also create a social network. This network can help foster new ideas.
  • Questions should be asked in the open, even if the answers can be found elsewhere (e.g., by search). Each such question carries with it a lot of additional, unnoticed information about the asker and their work.
  • Shared effort through open discussions is often the only way to reach a solution. In addition, open discussions foster a sense of community by letting all members 'listen in,' even if they themselves do not contribute directly to the discussion.
  • The sychronous, informal and lightweight tone of chats usually includes greetings and gestures, which provide immediate social gratification to the advisor.
  • Discussions should be carried out in both synchronous (chat) and asynchronous (message board) mode and span over days. A discussion should be kept open even when there is no participant online, so that users that join the discussion should be able to see its history.
  • Discussions should not be kept alive forever, as real collaboration and the sharing of tacit knowledge needs to be fostered. Providing access to previous discussions would imply the traditional 'search before you ask.'