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KMWorld reader poll “What would you do?”

KMWorld recently asked a series of questions in an online poll, in an effort to determine some “best-practices instincts” from our readers. Here are the results.

Scenario 1: A potentially huge business opportunity has come to your attention. But it requires input from members of your organization located all over the world. Do you …

1. Tell them to e-mail their ideas to each other? (35 percent)
2. Tell everyone involved to follow each other on Twitter? (2 percent)
3. Buy some software and create an online workspace? (58 percent)
4. Hire a consultant? (5 percent)

Interestingly, although 39 percent of the survey respondents were in the “consulting/professional services” business, only 5 percent recommended that approach.

Scenario 2: One of your contractors claims you agreed to pay them within six months of completion. You think you agreed to nine months. They are threatening to take you to court. To prepare, you …

1. Tell everyone to e-mail all pertinent documents to the legal department. (19 percent)
2. Use your search engine to find any document you can that is related to the contract. (50 percent)
3. Immediately suspend the records disposition program so you don’t destroy any discoverable evidence. (19 percent)
4. Hire a law firm. (12 percent)

We detect an extreme reliance on “search” to prepare for litigation. There is some opposition to this approach among experts in the field; “preparedness,” not “reaction,” is generally advised.

Scenario 3: Your biggest competitor is accusing your company of infringing on one of their new patents. You believe you had the idea three years ago. Do you …

1. Search your backup tapes for engineering documents going back five years ago? (58 percent)
2. Call a meeting of the engineering team to “pick their memories?” (19 percent)
3. Let your outside counsel sort it out? (21 percent)
4. Settle … it’s probably cheaper? (2 percent)

Another strong reliance on search. Could be valid in this scenario, though—evidence will be crucial in this example.

Scenario 4: Your sales team has adopted BlackBerries as their primary communications tool … on their own. You are concerned about your ability to control their use, for many reasons. You …

1. Ban ’em for business use. (8 percent)
2. Seek a records management vendor that can integrate mobile devices into your RM program. (28 percent)
3. Create a set of “internal practice” rules and restrictions. (63 percent)
4. Require them to CC: their sales managers on every message. (1 percent)

Many of our advisers agree: Practices trump technology. There’s no substitute for well-trained employees who understand the corporate vision and its procedures.

Scenario 5: You’ve just learned that your new-product launch team is using Twitter to communicate. Some of the information could be considered proprietary. You …

1. Ban Twitter for business communications with a stern internal memo. (12 percent)
2. Develop an “accepted practices” memo and disseminate it across all departments. (66 percent)
3. Let it go … better they communicate than not. (3 percent)
4. Buy some software and create an online workspace of your own. (19 percent)

Once again, strong support for governance. But we’re surprised by the willingness to “do-it-yourself” with off-the-shelf software.

Final scenario: You’ve just realized that 25 percent of your work force is nearly retirement age. And another 25 percent has been employed less than one year. You …

1. Demand that the older group writes down everything they know in a knowledgebase. (14 percent)
2. Create a weekly “knowledge sharing” meeting; attendance is mandatory. (75 percent)
3. Hire a management consulting firm, and let them figure it out. (6 percent)
4. Offer early retirement and get on with it. (5 percent)

No doubt that knowledge sharing is key. Interesting that face-to-face is overwhelmingly preferred to filling in a knowledgebase.  

This is the first in a series of KMWorld reader polls. Stay tuned for more, and please get involved. Your opinion matters. —The editors

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