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Meeting of Minds | Knowledge Harvesting. SLA Conference | Baltimore 2006. Knowledge Harvesting: Using tools to automatically gather and process content, instead of having to search for it and then edit it manually.

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Knowledge harvesting

Meeting of Minds |

Knowledge Harvesting

SLA Conference | Baltimore 2006

Knowledge Harvesting:

Using tools to automatically gather

and process content,

instead of having to search for it

and then edit it manually.

8 knowledge harvesting opportunities

Meeting of Minds |

8 Knowledge Harvesting Opportunities





Hotlink to K-Harvesting Reading List:

K harvesting a reading list for information professionals

Meeting of Minds |

K-Harvesting: A Reading List for Information Professionals

  • Desktop knowledge harvesting with Illumio:

  • Strategy canvases*:

  • Idea labs: innovation by asking why:

  • Mind maps:

  • The Open Space process:

  • Idea markets:;t=innovation

  • Cultural anthropology in business:

  • Thinking the customer ahead*:

  • Need/affinity matrix:

  • Seeing what's next*:

  • SWOT analyses:

  • Environmental scanning:

  • Weak signals of discontinuous change:

  • Canvassing the Wisdom of Crowds (customers and employees)*:

  • Knowledge harvesting; Just-in-time canvassing:

  • Dysfunctional information behaviours and Gen Millennium:

    * articles contain information on books describing the concept or process in greater detail

Hotlink to K-Harvesting Reading List:

Knowledge harvesting

Meeting of Minds |

  • Groups: You set up Personal Groups of people whose documents and "know-who" you might want to canvass from time to time. They are sent an invitation to be part of your group (and, if they're not an Illumio subscriber, an invitation to subscribe and download the tool). If they accept, they are giving Illumio the right to essentially run Google or Microsoft Desktop searches (depending which they have installed on their machine) on their hard drive, but only in response to requests from people whose Group invitation they have accepted. There is a plan to add Shared Groups, that will be centrally rather than personally managed, later.

  • Requests for Files, and Requests for Introductions: Once your Groups are set up, you can then launch either a search for files on a particular subject, or a request for an introduction to an expert.

  • If it's a search for files, the hard drives of the people in the Groups you've chosen to canvass will be scoured, using Group members' desktop search tools, and Illumio will rank the quality of responses it gets. If it has searched someone's hard drive and found a good match, it will send them a pop-up instant message indicating who has requested what, and suggesting which files on their hard drive appear to meet that request. They can choose to acknowledge the request and send these files and/or other selected files to you immediately, defer the request until later (there is a Dashboard in Illumio that shows requests pending, both yours to others and others' to you), or dismiss your request. They can even 'tell' Illumio that they're the wrong person to request this information from, so it 'learns'.

  • If you're looking for introductions rather than files, you key in any relevant business card information (a specific name, company, position or expertise you're looking for), and Illumio will scour the hard drives of the people in the Groups you've chosen to canvass looking for matches in e-mail communications and address books. Rather than asking them for a document, in this case Illumio will send them a pop-up IM asking them to make an introduction to the relevant experts it comes up with, to you. Again, they can accept, defer or dismiss the request.

Knowledge harvesting

Meeting of Minds |

Know-How Harvesting: Do-It-Yourself

1. Create separate Public and Private 'My Documents' and e-mail folders on each employee's hard drive.

2. Whenever users 'save' or store a document or message, prompt them to decide whether the document should be stored in the Public (shareable) or Private folder.

3. Establish an automated mechanism like RSS to regularly 'harvest' the Public folder information, to a central mirror site that other users can browse, and/or in response to just-in-time canvassing searches (see above), peer-to-peer.

4. Encourage people in the organization who maintain the most valuable context-rich content (e.g. subject matter experts, network coordinators and newsletter editors) to use a weblog-type tool to post and archive their content as part of their Public folder.

Knowledge harvesting

Meeting of Minds |



Mind Maps

Knowledge harvesting

Meeting of Minds |

Open Space Technology

  • Group convenes in a circle and is welcomed by the sponsor. The facilitator provides an overview of the process and explains how it works.

  • Facilitator invites people with issues of concern to come into the circle, write the issue on a piece of quarter size flip chart paper and announce it to the group. These people are "conveners."

  • The convener places their paper on the wall and chooses a time and a place to meet. This process continues until there are no more agenda items.

  • The group then breaks up and heads to the agenda wall, by now covered with a variety of sessions. Participants take note of the time and place for sessions they want to be involved in.

  • Dialogue sessions convene for the balance of the meeting. Recorders determined by each group capture the important points and post the reports on the news wall. All of these reports will be rolled into one document by the end of the meeting.

  • Following a closing or a break, the group moves into convergence, a process that takes the issues that have been discussed and attaches action plans to them to "get them out of the room."

  • The group then finishes the meeting with a closing circle where people are invited to share comments, insights, and commitments arising from the process.

Knowledge harvesting

Meeting of Minds |






Knowledge harvesting

Meeting of Minds |

Continuous Environment Scanning

  • Know How Your Customers Learn: Understand your 'information behaviour'. Push vs. Pull.

  • Determine Your Information Universe: Brainstorm to identify all the different sources you want your Scan 'radar' to capture: newswires, newspapers, websites, blogs, magazines, trade press, newsletters, analyst reports, tech analysts, sci-tech news, demographic and economic news, content not available online, news of industries that could be developing new processes, technologies and innovations that could affect your industry. New books on the subjects you're interested in. Multimedia sources (radio programs, TV documentaries, training materials etc.)

  • Discover Infomediaries: Associations, blogs, newsletters etc.

  • Tap Into the Stuff Inside Your Organization: Next, consider how to tap into sources sitting on the hard drives and bookshelves and blogs of the people in your organization and networks. The best stuff is rarely on the company Intranet.

  • Add Together, Stir and Sift: Filtering.

  • Add Value: Often your context-rich interpretation of 'what it means' or 'what it could mean', can be more valuable than the article itself. Add visualizations, maps, charts.

  • Organize and Make Available What's Left.

  • Don't Forget Serendipitous Reading: Stop reading matter, start reading what matters.

  • Have conversations about 'what it means':

Knowledge harvesting

Meeting of Minds |

A Just-in-Time Knowledge Canvassing System

1. Use social network analysis (mapping or interviewing) to identify the de facto networks of expertise and trust in the organization.

2. Use these to identify network coordinators, the 'people to go to first' on key subject matter areas for your organization.

3. Have these coordinators create, maintain and publish Canvassing Lists (e-mail groups) with e-mail, IM, phone and other contact information for the people in these subject matter networks, so that anyone in the firm who wants to canvass people in a network can do so with one click. These lists should include experts outside as well as inside the organization.

4. Create Canvassing Templates, forms that people can fill in quickly and simply to describe what expertise they're looking for, and then send them to one or more Canvassing Lists.

5. Devise a simple one-page instruction sheet/FAQ on how to effectively use the Canvassing Lists and Templates, which communication media to use in different circumstances to contact them, and how to deal with telephone tag, non-responses and other situations when canvassing response is inadequate. It should also deal with appropriate etiquette and protocols to ensure the canvassing process isn't abused.

6. If you also have a Know-How Harvesting program (see below), consider putting experts' weblogs and other context-rich resources in the Canvassing List to use as a surrogate for people who are unable or unwilling to respond to canvassing requests personally.

Knowledge harvesting

Interviews, Desktop harvesting

Meeting of Minds |



Current State


At each gate:





What could go wrong



What is the

Project About?

  • Gates:

  • Strategic Fit

  • Feasibility

  • Economic Model

  • Design

  • Prototype / Experiment

  • Pilot

  • Scale

Wisdom of

Crowds Reviews,

JIT Canvassing

Stage Gating

Internal Focus








& Idea Labs






Process Change



& Opportunity



Idea Exchange

Open Space

Idea Market

Customer Focus



& Stories









‘Thinking the

Customer Ahead’




Illustration of applications

in the context of a

business innovation project



‘Seeing What’s

Next’ Program

Market Focus


Weak Signals

& Developments




Knowledge Filtering


Knowledge Collection

Dysfunctional information behaviours

Meeting of Minds |

Dysfunctional Information Behaviours

Information Politics

  • Shoot the Messenger

  • Peer-to-Peer Preference

  • Help Friends / Hurt Foes

  • Cult of Leadership

  • Louder Voices

  • Anti-Stories

  • Like-Mind Groupthink

  • Cult of Expertise


  • Frame Dependency

  • Info Overload

  • Can’t Tell All We Know

  • Preference for Images & Stories

  • Different Ways of Learning

  • JIT vs. JIC (Half-Life of Learning)

Information Unawareness

  • Cost of Not Knowing Unawareness

  • Unawareness of What Others We Meet Know

Reward Systems

  • From-Scratch Satisfaction

  • Better Safe than Sorry

  • Tragedy of the Commons

  • Competing on the Curve

  • Reward-Driven Behaviours Don’t Last

  • No Reward for Sharing

  • Fun vs Effectiveness

  • Work-Arounds