When I’m working with companies on understanding and improving their approach to content management and knowledge sharing (formerly known as “knowledge management”), it always strikes me how some people want to get down to “just one” solution. Just one repository, just one social platform, just one process, having Just One seems like a neat and tidy solution.
Here’s a problem that comes with the Just One direction (and not just that it comes with a boy band attached…..) – the governance and oversight required to sustain it is often extensive. So all you really do is move the complexity to the governance work, generally it fails to meet local needs, and eventually people will do their own thing anyway in order to survive.
It is, in my opinion, better to design a solid information architecture and infrastructure within which both general and specialized repositories and networks can co-exist. Solid guidelines give people the ability to create what works for them and the local culture of their teams / functions / work processes. At the same time, guidelines give everyone the boundaries within which they can be most successful. If you have that in place, it actually doesn’t matter how many repositories or social spaces you have, because they are all following similar guidelines and a common architecture, but they are building what they need for their local needs and wants.
I equate it to driving down the highway – we all know the basic rules of the road – speed limits, how to use on and off ramps, staying in lanes, etc. As the saying goes, in the law, there is freedom. Generally people follow the same flow, but in very different ways – people use a car, a truck, or a motorcycle depending on their needs and resources, and the way they drive depends on the training they’ve received and their personalities, but for the most part it works pretty well considering all of the variables in play.