May 19, 2008

Article Response: KM Is Both The Process and The End Result

I hadn't planned on posting a blog today, especially since I had one of those weird, job-in-jeopardy-dreams last night (because I didn't bring 15 sub sandwiches to an office event...even though, in my dream, I didn't know I was supposed to bring anything). Some people dream of being naked, I dream of not bringing subs to an office party...tomato, tomata. Anyway, I figured I'd just focus on work today, but as I was doing my daily news/blog reviews, I came across the article, Tapping Into Knowledge Management at CIO Insight by John Parkinson.

Mr. Parkinson's main point is that KM "isn't something you do. Rather, it's the result you get when you do a lot of other things right."

As both the title of this post, and my response below indicates, I'm not in total agreeement with this statement. Please access the link above to read the article (it's brief) and read my comments below.

"What fascinates me most about a lot of the KM literature that I read - it sets KM way up in Mount Olympus and then gives the most dodgy, convoluted, wordy directions to getting there. Still, as a KM practitioner, I'm not completely on board with the idea that knowledge management isn't something you do", preferring to believe that it is both the process and the end result.

"As a student of Obvious Adams, I am in total agreement with your skepticism of a big, expensive, capital-letter KM engagement. Particularly, since it sounds to me like you really just need to introduce a forward-looking process that provides a forum for capturing the knowledge/information you're after and then either hiring or tasking a dedicated resource - someone familiar with your industry, work environment, products, and projects - to analyze and report on the information being shared.

"I say forward-looking, because it's important not to get caught up in trying to capture past behaviors/practices - if that knowledge is still relevant, it will come, if it isn't, then it's useless anyway.

"And, yes, there's always a learning curve and there are always folks who are either late to the party (late adopters) or who never arrive (non-users), but you can increase adoption through a combination of marketing (an internal 'viral campaign' and word-of-mouth via early adopters/advocates) and by making use of tools/resources that are already being used. In most production environments, people are already sharing information using some form of e-tool, be it email, IM, wikis, etc. or some combination and, it's likely, either the information that you're looking for, or the path to those with that knowledge, is there.

"As, to the busy-ness of people with the valued knowledge, unless your KM is Charles Xavier you're never going to get it all anyway!

"However, by having specific needs and focused questions (using the aforementioned process) and leaving the analysis of that information to someone well-suited to the task, you make the process minimally invasive, minimally irksome, and, most importantly, relevant.

"My personal experience is that it's not sharing that people have a problem with, it's having to info-dump, indiscriminately, AND, do it in tidy little chunks, easily digestible by the masses; make the process convenient and intelligent to the full range of your consumers and you just might get somewhere. After all, everyone has a use for useful knowledge.

"Good luck!!"
What's your take?