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Help as Knowledge Management: Taking Care of Scarce Resources through Informal Encouragement JD Eveland, Ph.D. December 11, 2000.

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Presentation on theme: "Help as Knowledge Management: Taking Care of Scarce Resources through Informal Encouragement JD Eveland, Ph.D. December 11, 2000."— Presentation transcript:

1 Help as Knowledge Management: Taking Care of Scarce Resources through Informal Encouragement JD Eveland, Ph.D. December 11, 2000

2 Todays Context Organizations are increasingly technology dependent Technology isnt self-implementing Traditional model: expensive machines, cheap/replaceable people Current model: cheap machines, expensive people Thus: new kinds of joint optimization

3 The socio-technical balance has shifted… Crucial resource is knowledge Knowledge is most critically embedded in the organizations people Its very easy for knowledge to walk out the door… Informal relationships make the system work

4 Help as a key need Knowledge is unequally distributed Knowledge is a social event The organization works only because people help each other Most help is informal Most organizations arent set up to encourage helping relationships

5 The CGU Studies CGU -- a private graduate school –2000 students, 200 staff –Diverse small programs, no technical departments –Distributed environment –Major transition in computing support Pre/Post surveys on computer use and help Further analysis on organizational and physical distance

6 Project Structure Three survey rounds –Pre-hardware –One year of experience –Network experience Surveys covered: –Demographics –Capabilities used –Information work –Satisfaction –Expectations –Interactions with others

7 Interaction networks surveyed People with whom they work regularly People to whom they go for help when they have problems with the computer People to whom they provide such help

8 Connections in the network Work networkHelp network Within Work group Across Work groups With ACC Outside CGU 140 (31%) 68 (16%) 125 (29%) 103 (24%) 184 (57%) 73 (22%) 11 (3%) 59 (18%)

9 Average help relationships, by function Faculty Dept staff Admin. Staff Supervisors ACC staff RelationsN

10 Cumulative number of individuals Number of help relations Break point for High providers Cumulative distribution of help relationships

11 Patterns of help High Providers Non- Providers High Providers Non- Providers ACC Outside Sources 10% 26% 14% 4% 22% 10% 54% 60% RECIPIENTRECIPIENT Source

12 What distinguished a high provider? A wider range of information work Use more computer tools Have more computer education Nothing demographic! –Age, status, experience, tenure, and gender are unrelated to helping But they do...

13 Various networks… Working relations Administrative distance Helping relations Physical distance

14 Work Relationships

15 Help relationships

16 Help relationships without ACC

17 Operationalizing distance Art to Management = Barrier Factor of 6

18 Working relationships are most important to helping More than two physical barriers become a problem to helping The formal structure doesnt matter much in helping So...What did we find out by correlating the networks? Help Admin. Closeness Physical closeness Work help admin. Close

19 Conclusions here... People get computer help from those with whom they share work problems The formal structure is less important than either working relationships or physical distance People dont walk far to get help

20 Overall Conclusions Help networks tend to be workgroup-based, with central support High providers focus help networks and channel expertise into them Help providers are just like us, only more so Help networks need support and cultivation

21 Practical consequences We reorganized the CGU help system For the future, we need to… Understand technology use as a knowledge management problem Recognize the knowledge based in people Build systems to encourage sharing Understand limits of formal arrangements


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