January 31, 2009

Blogroll: Week Ending 1/31

So, as things settle down (whatever the hell that means) with my current KM project I'm trying to do a better job of keeping up with my blogs - this one and the one I started for work.

That means making more time to review KM literature and what other practitioners are doing/writing. These 'Blogroll' posts are meant to show my love and support for the KM blogging community and present my thoughts on the blog posts that catch my eye and get me riled up.

Today's catch includes:
On KM Maturity Models...
I have to admit that I’m not the biggest fan of KM content to come out of APQC (mostly because a lot of their stuff seems too structured and process-oriented for my tastes and I find that while they may not be replicable or ever designated ‘best practices’, many of the most effective KM solutions I’ve delivered are born “on the fly”) but that doesn’t mean I don’t keep up with the work they are doing in KM. And, I’m certainly capable of giving credit where credit is due.

Dr. Carla O’dell’s SlideShare presentation on 5 Ways KM Supports Innovation is great material to incorporate into one’s KM ‘sales’ pitch and/or service offerings.

On the other hand, APQC's Knowledge Management Maturity Model, is exactly the kind of thing I rail against. Not APQC’s model, specifically, nor maturity model’s in general, but in the application of maturity model’s as a benchmarking tool. In theory, I think that maturity models are great for providing overall guidance to any type of project, essentially establishing informational markers along ‘Route Km' ©. But, using maturity models to benchmark the progression of KM activities and behaviors is dangerous to the success of a KM strategy because it’s easy to get caught up in trying to conform the strategy to the model rather than utilizing the model as a purely supportive tool (one of many) to assist in maintaining the focus of your strategy.

Imagine that a physician has prescribed a course of treatment for an illness that results in side effects not outlined in the literature documenting the treatment. And, even after reviewing the prescribed treatment (as a good Doctor should) decides that instead of exploring and pursuing alternatives to address that patients particular situation and response to the treatment, the Doctor decides to continue aggressively pursuing the treatment outlined in the literature. Obviously, this example makes some huge assumptions and I don’t mean to oversimplify things. I’m simply pointing out that, as a patient (if you’re prone to trusting your Doctor implicitly), the idea that your medical professional would stick to a course of treatment that clearly isn’t working for you simply because that’s what the literature says, even though the literature doesn’t cover all of the crap happening to you, rather than saying, “Hmmm, maybe I should look at some alternatives”, would, no doubt, be extremely discomforting.

If you feel that, then, hopefully, you can feel my pain about maturity models.

Of course, maturity models (and medical treatments) don’t apply themselves and organizations (unlike patients) don’t have the ability to seek out a second opinion or switch Doctors, which is why it’s important to have leaders capable of making the distinction between a strategy (which may need modification, on the fly) and support tool that provides guidance, not instructions.

And, for those of you inclined to roll your eyes and consider this post one of my “duh” moments since you share this wisdom and already “get this”, please realize that there are a lot of folks working in our field who don’t. Sadly, I’ve seen folks base entire strategies around hitting maturity model milestones without ever really addressing their most critical KM needs.

On Community...
You gotta love it when thoughts and ideas ignite a firestorm of dialogue. Mark Pollard's point-in-post comment on the "antithesis of anonymity to community" (nestled in a well written post entitled "7 Things You Can Learn From Hip Hop...If you want to build an online community") led to a debate that has produced some provocative and worthwhile reading. Click through the links to the following posts and join the discussion!!

New KM Role: Search Analyst
I’ve been working with my boss to improve (read: gut and rebuild) the Search functionality of our Kbase so I’m particularly keen on the idea of having a dedicated resource (even on a part-time basis) and Lee Romero’s post defining the role of a Search Analyst was truly timely and appreciated!

Pimpin' Knowledge Management
I’m fond of telling folks that being a successful knowledge manager involves wearing many hats and taking on a variety of roles: strategist, analyst, salesman, marketer, facilitator, psychologist, therapist, statistician, database manager, project manager, hand holder, and con artist among them. For those folks working towards their KM Merit Badge in Sales, Matt Moore of Innotecture (who's steadily making strides towards becoming my new KM crush) has prepared a short white paper on Justifying Your KM Program.

As I learned myself (only a few years ago, really), when you are selling a product, any product, you are basically selling yourself – your experience, your passion, your ability to make their investment pay off (just check out the BBC show Dragon's Den). And, don’t get it twisted, when you’re seeking out executive and/or financial support for a business initiative, the same rules apply! In his paper, Matt outlines the three things you’ll need to make your KM pitch work. This information, coupled with the wonderful ideas proffered in his July/August ’08 KM Review article, Closing The Deal With The Help Of Knowledge (with Keith De La Rue of Acknowledge Consulting), serves as a solid “bootcamp” on selling your KM strategy for practitioners.

Everyone say 'thanks Matt'. “Thanks Matt!”

Click here to access the wiki version of the Justifying Your KM Program paper and here to access the PDF version.

Click here to access the PDF version of the Closing The Deal With The Help Of Knowledge article.

And just for good measure, a link to one of my personal favorite reads on the subject of sales and networking, Jeffrey Gitomer's Little Black Book of Connections. Jeff has written a Little Red Book of Selling, but I think the Little Black Book is the better starting point since it focuses on networking and building relationships (which is an essential part of the KM role, in my opinion). As Jeff writes, "The questions that you ask, the ideas that you bring to the table, and your communication skills, combined with your passion, belief, and attitude, are the fundamentals of what it takes to connect."


Mark Pollard said...

Hey Christian. Thanks for mentioning the posts/discussion. Much appreciated...

So... what are your thoughts? :)