Bruce LaDuke suggests that IT & KM [are] Boat Anchors because they don't have a connection to the true performance of the organization. Or that the practitioners believe they are the center of the universe.
It's been my experience that the vast majority of information technologists and knowledge management practitioners don't understand industrial performance - performance management, performance improvement, performance measures, or performance models. [snip]
[M]any try to make information technology (IT) or knowledge management (KM) the umbrella for the enterprise or industry instead of giving place to performance, which is the umbrella for all industrial disciplines. Industry is about 'making things,' which requires 'doing.' Doing is performance, and knowing or enabling are not performance.
LaDuke suggests it is the realm of performance (management, improvement, measures, models) that provides much better connection to improvement. I understand "performance" as being a Human Resources activity. But what if people are performing the wrong things?
Any improvement or change effort has to be tied into the needs of the organization. I have been doing more Theory of Constraints work, and I particularly like the straightforward way TOC talks about evaluating change efforts: Will the project increase or decrease investment/inventory? Will the project increase or decrease operating expenses? Will the project increase or decrease throughput (throughput = sales - totally variable costs)? Net Profit = Throughput - Operating Expenses. ROI of a project is the (change in NP) / (change in Investment).
Many internal KM (and IT) projects don't have the direct connection to net profit. A better set of questions might be those suggested by The Haystack Syndrome. What is the power of the intended change? What limitation is the change overcoming (limited capacity, for example)? What old rules were followed because of the limitation (and need to be eliminated)? What new rules need to be created? Bill Brantley does a nice job of describing how these might work.
Oh, and until I saw this post, I didn't know who Robert Mager was.