[devnexus 2024] knowledge management for the technicaly inclined

Speaker: Jacqui Read


For more, see the 2024 DevNexus Blog Table of Contents

Book: Communication Patterns

Knowledge Management

  • McKinsey used phrase internaly in 1987
  • not just putting info on the wiki
  • can’t simply buy it
  • apps can help but small part of what doing


  • Naming a repo – convey what is i without going in and looking
  • Integrating one app with another – edges are where discover and exchange knowledge
  • Lessons learned – learn from past mistakes and build on successes
  • Inventory – catalog
  • Dashboards – static or dynamic
  • Dcouments – files
  • Expertise locator – how find info in peoples heads
  • Policies and procedures
  • Wikis an articles
  • Forms and templates
  • Databases
  • Meetings and workshops – generate a lot of knowledge. Not always recorded


  • ”Knowledge management is the process of capturing, distributing and effectively using knowledge “ – Tom Davenport
  • No org is a vacumn
  • Relationsips change over time and knowledge gets lost
  • If written down, softens the blow
  • Forces between fiishing tech stuff vs getting things done
  • Capturing gets lost and no organization learning. Makes stagnant org and competitors can overtake
  • Fortune 500 companies lose at least $31.5 million a year due to lost info
  • Companies with better knowledge manageent did better during pandemic

Remote first

  • Enable doing best work wherver are Not a bolt on to office work.
  • If anyone remote, everyone is on own device
  • Value output over time spent
  • Emphasis on async communication
  • Better continutiny for time zones, transit strikes, snowstorms, people going out to see eclipse
  • Improved productivity because valued for output and happier. Not trying to look like working
  • Better documentation due to async communications

Sync vs Asyc

  • Async communication – no expectation of reading/responding as soon as received
  • This talk is synchronous for people in room and async for people watching on video later
  • Can capture, publish and use info sync or async


  • Centralize so not looking through multiple or guessing where to put
  • Federated for maintenance – anyone can add
  • Partitioned by domain – different definitions for different parts of business. Define scope
  • Cross reference for simplicity – don’t duplicate

Products over Products

  • Mindset change
  • Other projects can reference
  • Reuse
  • Long term view


  • Catalog assets
  • Expicit knowledge -easy to articuate and write down. Think about what it is, structure, format, etc
  • Implicit knowledge – harder to write down. Think about who knows. Is it tacit knowledge (ex: leadership/riding a bike)?
  • Put tacit knowledge in expertise locator
  • Make ore of he implicit knowledge explicit

Personal Knowledge Management (PKM)

  • Encourage people to share what know
  • Bottom up info sharing
  • Can boost carer to share knowledge
  • Can be rabbit hole

Automate knowedge management

  • Documentation as code. Not just markdown. Could be diagrams as code, json, asciidoc etc
  • Optionally review for accuracy. Especially if publishing publicly
  • Automated review for syntax, spelling, links, etc
  • Convert to a useful format like PDF or a website
  • Decouple data fro presentation

Knowledge Management as Code

  • ex: Swapper API docs
  • ex: contract testing
  • ex: Pacts dashboard showing last time tested each API

Hive MInd

  • Optimize knowledge so available at right time
  • Without knowledge manageent, have high cognitive load and chaos
  • With knowledge management, reduce cognitive load
  • With hive mind, reduce cognitive load as much as possible
  • Hierarchy: Wisdom, knowlege, info, data


  • Garbage in, garbage out

Collaborative Knowedge Management

  • Big picture event storming – find boundaries where people disagree. Generates lots of options
  • Domain storytelling – create diagrams with actors and processes. Focus on one way. If hae another version, create a new diagra
  • Bytesize Architecture Session – can use for mix of business and technical. Start with session goal. Then everyone starts independently at same time so not drowned out by loudest voice in room. Then find consensus
  • 6 page memo – re Amazon. Doc created before meeting. Everyone reads at same time (to fence time for reading) then discuss. Downside is that people have thoughts after meeting. Doc needs to be collaborative as well
  • Architecture Decision Records – not just for architectures. Include title, status, context, evaluation criteria, options, decision, implications, consultation Avoids risk of changing something without understanding why decision made. Avoids rework of inestigating same thing repeatedly. New people on team can read why decision made
  • Business Decision Record – same idea as ADR, but for other things. Ex: why buy/choose a product, hiring, strategy

Key takeaways

  • Software BBOM (big ball of mud). Probably also have Documentation BBOM.
  • Think about as wall of ivy instead. Have info hidden in here
  • Good knowledge manageent virtal for building and understanding software
  • Collaborate to collect and record knowledge. Get more perspectives. Break down silos
  • Involve as many minds as possible
  • Elicit the implicit knowledge so don’t miss
  • Knowledge management supports better decision making Need a decision support system
  • Engineer knowledge as much as engineer software
  • Own your knowledge. If don’t know what have, can’t use it

My take

Excellent start to the morning. It was fun seeing how different parts of KM interact. Plus learned some new techniques.

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