December 22, 2008

Pay Attention to People

At the heart of every knowledge management effort has to be the people we hope will use and benefit from it. Yet far too often, they are not considered sufficiently in the design or implementation stage. Most of the time we plan based on our "impressions and preconceptions" of how our target audience will behave. These "impressions and preconceptions" are what we call experience, but they often block us from truly working with people as they are now, rather than how we thought they once were.

What's the corrective for this? Pay attention to people -- pay close attention. In a post about living artfully that is well worth reading as we approach the season of resolutions, Dustin Wax has the following observation about why paying attention to people pays off:
When we pay attention to people, really pay attention, it brings forth something in them that’s amazing. This is something I learned as an anthropologist – people love to tell their stories. All they need is someone to really listen to them. And when people give you their stories, it enriches your own story.
It's those stories that allow us to match our KM program to the current needs or pain points experienced by the people we serve. It also helps prevent our deploying programs that miss the mark. Pay attention to the people first and then see how technology can help. You won't regret it.


Karthik said...

yes! involving target audience in creating any product/solution for them, enriches the acceptability of the product/solution among the target audience. but most of the time, this is not followed and it results in creation of ineffective products/services.

Mary Abraham said...

You're right, Karthik. The challenge is figuring out how to involve the target audience, while keeping its views in proper perspective.

- Mary