Thursday, May 01, 2008

Live KM Blogging: Department of State blows away the Coast Guard when it comes to using social networking tools for KM and PA

Stand by for heavy rolls.

This afternoon, members of the Department of State's Office of eDiplomacy presented a superb presentation about the use of social network/Web 2.0 tools for knowledge management: Making It Happen: KM at the Working Level (and up).

They put the Coast Guard to shame, at least when it comes to using IT tools for knowledge management.

First, a couple of stats about the Department of State. 57,000 employees. 268 locations. Big bureaucracy.

Their knowledge management goal: Enable employees to access and contribute knowledge anywhere, anytime.

They modeled their efforts on common elements of successful knowledge management efforts:

  • Collaboration through self-forming, self-managing, technology enabled communities.
  • Better access to expertise.
  • Better access to information.
  • Technology to make knowledge sharing part of daily workflow.
  • 4-5 years of effort to gain solid footing.
  • Continuity of leadership from the top.
They've implemented four specific tools which form a platform for knowledge management.
  • Enterprise search.
  • Internal blogs, known as Communities @ State.
  • Wiki, known as Diplopedia.
  • Collaboration Clearinghouse, which enhances SharePoint as a base.
The great thing about what they're doing is that the tools are readily available for federal agencies. The Enterprise Search is, I think, from Google; more on Google tools in a later post. The blogs and the wiki platforms are Intelink/Passport tools that are available to any federal agency.

None of the blogs & wiki articles are available on the Internet. This is not a public affairs initiative; this is a knowledge management initiative. Much of the material is available from any .gov or .mil domain (or when signed in to Intelink/Passport); all the UNCLAS material is on the Department's Intranet. All classified material is on the high side.

The Enterprise Search incorporates all known sites, and it deep links to the sites. The search capability indexes key repositories (and includes all official cables).

As to the blogs, more than 50 blogs are online. They include regional offices as well as functional work areas. More than 800 authors contribute to Communities @ State and there are more than 13,000 entires over the past three years. Blogs can be established by anyone, but the requester needs to fill out a form which guides the requester in terms of strategic intention. Blogs must have at least two primary contributors; blogs will not be established for a single person.

And then there's the wiki, Diplopedia. It is, they say, "The most successful online collaborative publishing effort ini State's history." In the last 18 months, they've has 700 registered editors/authors, 3,500 articles, and more than 430,00 page views.

Not that they haven't had some bumps in the road. At one point, one office complained about some outdated information that had been posted to Diplopedia. They hadn't put the information on the wiki, and the info was dated. The good folks at eDiplomacy did a little research and discovered that the wiki author had used information straight from the complaining office's website. The reply from the office, "Yeah, we know that information we posted is outdated; we're going to get it changed in a couple of months."

Anyone in the Department of State can be a registered editor. One of the cultural changes that the Department is moving toward is that knowledge and information doesn't belong to one person or group within the Department.

The fourth tool is one they're still working to build, a collaboration clearinghouse. This tool has been designed in order to manage enterprise SharePoint deployment, to ensure that silos don't get rebuilt.

Here are the take-aways. These are enterprise-wide programs, but rely on local adoption. The initiatives engage the full range of the Department's work and subject matter. Working level employees initiate activities and maintain them because they see it to their own benefit. And, finally, senior leaders support the efforts, but they leave space (and provide cover) for experimentation and flexibility.

Can we do this in the Coast Guard, please.

What say you, gentle reader?


Peter A. Stinson said...

I didn't put anything in the post about using the social network tools for public affairs.

Forgot. I was so excited about the other stuff.

Here's the PA deal (although it comes from the department's PA office, not their KM shop): The Department of State has a blog, Dipnotes, which serves as another avenue for communications with external stakeholders.

And they post nearly daily, not as infrequently as the Coast Guard and the CG Journal.

Diplopedia said...

Diplopedia's top level domains are now FOR SALE (, .net, .org, .mobi, .tv). Interested parties willing to obtain ownership rights over these domains can visit any of them for details.