Winning strategies for workplace knowledge management

Opening the door to social media and information-sharing can propel your organization beyond the status quo

The 21st century is an era of breaking down the walls in the traditional workplace, a movement fueled by changing technology and doctrine. Today the explosion in avenues of communication means everyone has a voice and wants to be heard, and the office is no exception. The result is a flood of innovation that can boost an organization's production and morale exponentially.

Channeling all of the new information, tools, input and methodology means actively practicing the art of knowledge management. But how do you know if it’s being done right in your workplace?

“If we can harness [the organization’s] internal wisdom on one platform in one space, we can find answers to questions we didn’t even know we asked,” said Jack Holt, Defense Department senior strategist for emerging media. “That’s the power of the network.”

It can be hard to determine whether it’s being done right because the movement is new and evolving rapidly; so are the tools used in knowledge management. Social media is a catch-all phrase for ways to give everyone a voice, but what platform is right for a given environment? And how can all those voices be incorporated into a product or solution?

The vast array of options and issues can be daunting, but experts say if you’re practicing knowledge management, you’re already on the right track.

“Everybody has something to bring to the table. Maybe it’s not what you were originally looking for, but it’s still valuable. You’re still making knowledge from the intelligence you’re gathering,” Holt said.

Holt and other industry experts spoke May 4 at the Knowledge Management 2010 Conference, produced by 1105 Government Information Group, in Washington.

According to Don Burke, CIA Intellipedia doyen, there are three characteristics of effective and beneficial knowledge management in the workplace:

  • The environment is vibrant: “People are active. You know a good party when you walk into one.”
  • It’s a social atmosphere: “Everyone is working together.” The personal silos and compartmentalization aren’t present.
  • It’s relevant and real work is getting done: “It’s not a conversation about football or LOLcats,” Burke said.

Another important aspect of harnessing knowledge management is making the tools and platform available, and encouraging participation. It’s all about creating a vibrant community, said Alex Voultepsis, chief technology officer for the IC-CIO/Intelink Enterprise Collaboration Center in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. “Don’t discriminate. Transcend the artificial barriers like office or agency or organization.”

Still, the first step of getting onboard the knowledge-management train is perhaps the most important.

“If nothing else, [practicing knowledge management] shows that the tools can be successful if you enable them,” Burke said. “The challenge is how to grow [the tools] and transition into something successful.”

About the Author

Amber Corrin is a former staff writer for FCW and Defense Systems.

The Fed 100

Read the profiles of all this year's winners.


  • Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump at a 2016 campaign event. Image: Shutterstock

    'Buy American' order puts procurement in the spotlight

    Some IT contractors are worried that the "buy American" executive order from President Trump could squeeze key innovators out of the market.

  • OMB chief Mick Mulvaney, shown here in as a member of Congress in 2013. (Photo credit Gage Skidmore/Flickr)

    White House taps old policies for new government makeover

    New guidance from OMB advises agencies to use shared services, GWACs and federal schedules for acquisition, and to leverage IT wherever possible in restructuring plans.

  • Shutterstock image (by Everett Historical): aerial of the Pentagon.

    What DOD's next CIO will have to deal with

    It could be months before the Defense Department has a new CIO, and he or she will face a host of organizational and operational challenges from Day One

  • USAF Gen. John Hyten

    General: Cyber Command needs new platform before NSA split

    U.S. Cyber Command should be elevated to a full combatant command as soon as possible, the head of Strategic Command told Congress, but it cannot be separated from the NSA until it has its own cyber platform.

  • Image from Shutterstock.

    DLA goes virtual

    The Defense Logistics Agency is in the midst of an ambitious campaign to eliminate its IT infrastructure and transition to using exclusively shared, hosted and virtual services.

  • Fed 100 logo

    The 2017 Federal 100

    The women and men who make up this year's Fed 100 are proof positive of what one person can make possibile in federal IT. Read on to learn more about each and every winner's accomplishments.

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group