Published in The Business News on September 13th, 2022
For many, IT is all technical and about as understandable as Gabby Johnson’s authentic frontier gibberish, in Blazing Saddles. I have seen the glazed over expressions as the IT staff starts talking about RAM and gigabytes. Well, it’s not all techno-speak and overly complicated acronyms. Some of this stuff is actually useful for normal folks.
For example, knowledge management systems
That’s a thing and it’s basically a system for helping everyday people remember stuff. Remember that amazing idea that you had in the car? No, you don’t. You remember having an idea, but it was lost to a combination of AC/DC lyrics and Bob & Tom Morning Show jokes. That idea was truly outstanding, but it will never come to fruition, because you didn’t write it down.
In your defense, how could you write it down? You were driving. You don’t want to be one of those people, typing and swerving, as you rocket down the highway. Nice work on being safe, but here you are idealess and the big meeting is this afternoon.
Next time ask Siri (or Google) to make a note. As you coast safely down the road, you can simply say your idea and it will be recorded into the note app of your choosing by your trusty digital assistant.
You don’t have to be in the car, to take advantage of the note app on your phone. You don’t even have to use the note app. You can send yourself an email or use your business’s software to keep track of ideas. The key is that you had an idea, recorded the idea, and now you have it to make a reality.
Step two: How do you organize many ideas? As Han Solo said, well that’s the real trick isn’t it. Keeping track of one idea is simple enough. But you have many great ideas, and you can’t execute on all of them right away. You also have to-dos, someday maybes, and honey-do lists. You can’t remember all of that, and your notes are getting cluttered. Time to put the “system” in knowledge management system.
Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) are not new. There was this cool thing in the 80s, called books. I recall using note cards to keep track of things when I was young as well. Dewey Decimal System anyone…These examples (snarky-ness and all) are not exactly KMS systems, but the centralization and categorization of knowledge is the overall theme throughout.
Today, you can make your own KMS system, as I started to discuss above, or you can buy a specialized software. Software titles, like Obsidian are designed for a multitude of options that help with categorization, inter-note linking, exporting and sharing. That particular software, and many like it, accept the potential for their own failure and the software to become unavailable, so they make all notes, files, and lists to be in standard text format, readable on any computer.
Customize Your Own Solution
I use a custom solution, created using Apple’s Notes program. As a longtime inhabitant of the Apple ecosystem, I am very comfortable with Apple’s various devices. In this case, I have Apple Notes on my MacBook Pro, iPhone, and iPad. Adding an idea, whilst out and about, is no trouble. I can even use my Apple Watch to record those always on-point shower thoughts.
Organizing my notes is simple as well. I have a series of folders, breaking down work stuff, personal stuff, passions, hobbies and random. I can link one idea to another, through connecting links that tie ideas together, or I can use hashtags (like Twitter) to categorize. For example, I may write a more personal essay about my son’s baseball season and then a work-related column about the creation of a disaster recovery plan. Both are in a writing folder, but one is #baseball and the other is #technology #management.
I also create to-do lists, inspiration notes, and even shopping lists. Anything that comes to mind is entered, categorized, and occasionally reviewed. When the day comes where I need a good idea for a Business News column, I simply click on the hashtag for #businessnews and I have a list of columns written and ideas for writing.
I’m an old man, so I still count on a notepad and paper also. Sometimes it’s just easier to write it down. Questions like, when did the pound symbol from the touch-tone phone in my parent’s kitchen become a “hashtag” still find their way to the notepad, but rarely to my personal KMS system. Not every question or idea is worth remembering.