Monday, July 17, 2006

The Top 10?

One thing I've noticed about being in this field we call KM is the diversity of experiences of practitioners, researchers, and those just plain interested in the topic. From a previous post, a suggestion was made that maybe we could come up with a "Top 10," or even "Bottom 10" of KM ideas, techniques, tactics, or gotchas. That seems to me to be a pretty good idea. While I haven't thought through all the permutations of such lists, I guess I'd like to throw out one thought that I believe is universal, yet is also a thought that is universally gone unheeded.

The thought is, "If you build it, they won't necessarily come." That's in reference to the idea that if an organization builds a comprehensive intranet, with spiders, with external links, with yellow pages, and so on, that it won't necessarily result in knowledge sharing. I think that this thought has proven immutable, yet organizations still routinely go the route of building an intranet first and then wonder why nothing happens.

Whether this is a top 10 or bottom 10 idea doesn't matter to me, but I'd like to hear from others on this or similar words of wisdom that seem to have stood the test of (KM) time.

4 comments:

Christian Young said...

The major points I usually stress when I'm speaking with organizations that are looking at KM are...

1) Every organization has a KM strategy, whether documented and defined or not; typically, those that are looking at "implementing" a strategy are really saying "what we're currently doing isn't working for us".

2) KM is about developing community; the tools are nifty and convenient, but ultimately the goal is to evolve the culture to a knowledge sharing as a norm.

3) KM is about creating relevance; the only way to truly bring people on board and achieve buy-in is to make KM relevant to the work they do each day and develop strategies that add value to their work.

4) KM takes time; this is cultural change we're talking about and it doesn't happen overnight. In order to achieve sustainable KM it needs to be adopted as a cultural norm so that even as the people come and go, the practice and principles remain.

5) KM is neither the tech tools nor IM/CM (information managment/content management); KM involves going beyond IM/CM to actually leveraging the information - developing strategies for using the information to increase innovation and achieve bottom line ($$$) growth.

Lastly, I take a pretty hard line when it comes to orgs that take a lazy view of KM, "it's a great idea, but it's not an organizational priority". It doesn't matter how talented your KM person or team is or how much of a monetary investment is made in the strategy, if this attitude isn't turned around from the get-go it's never going to happen...

Vikram B said...

I have a different viewpoint

Time and again, many KM practitioners have this norm of saying KM is not about IT / CM etc. But, can they really be replaced? Obvious answer is NO

Although, they use tools and techniques for "culture change" and "knowledge sharing" ( the success of which are still questionable). But, using only them without a good technology solution is more immature.

So, like any other system like payroll or datacenter, Yes, the focus is also on the process and people to use them, but technology used plays a very bit part. It cannot really be neglected.

Vikram B said...

I have a different viewpoint

Time and again, many KM practitioners have this norm of saying KM is not about IT / CM etc. But, can they really be replaced? Obvious answer is NO

Although, they use tools and techniques for "culture change" and "knowledge sharing" ( the success of which are still questionable). But, using only them without a good technology solution is more immature.

So, like any other system like payroll or datacenter, Yes, the focus is also on the process and people to use them, but technology used plays a very big part. It cannot really be neglected.

Jim Lee, PMP said...

Vikram B, thanks for weighing on this. I think you may have misunderstood my original comment. That is, it's not sufficient to utilize only technology as your "KM" strategy, but it is indeed necessary. So while we agree that IT enablers are essential, they by themselves will not engage people to share in the quantity and richness that human systems (change management, process enablers, rewards and recognition, and so on) provide. This has been proven many times over. Simply throwing IT applications out there will not result in the enterprise-wide knowledge sharing that we know happens in a truly knowledge-rich, collaborative environment.

I have a client right now that invested untold amounts of money into the technology side--including the latest collaborative tools, full feature videoconferencing and synchronous web conferencing, and other tools. Yet, that approach failed so miserably that they engaged us to fix the problem. We will be happy to utilize all their existing technology as enablers---but we will insist on person-to-person systems be implemented first.