This website covers topics on knowledge management, personal effectiveness, theory of constraints, amongst other topics. Opinions expressed here are strictly those of the owner, Jack Vinson, and those of the commenters.

The death of KM, redux

Knowledge management dies from time to time. At least if you have been watching the topic for a while, it's a familiar topic.

The latest instance is last month's post from Roan Young in CMS Wire, Knowledge Management in 2012? Probably Dead.  Several other people I read have commented on the topic as well: Nick Milton, Dave Snowden,and Patrick Lambe have commented on the topic as well.  I've probably missed several others.  And I thought David Griffiths' piece, The Evoloution of KM - No Time to Evolve the DIKW Hierarchy, dovetailed nicely into the thinking on this topic.

Of course, most of the claims that "KM is dead" are followed by "as we know it" or "but this other thing still lives."  I remember a webinar many years ago that was titled something like, "KM is dead, long live KM" (wow, there are a lot of search results against that title).

My take on this topic is that so long as people want to use the term, the concept and practice of knowledge management will stick around.  The fun I have with KM - and I think some of Roan's frustration - is that it means so many different things. I have seen KM as

  • organizing stuff
  • training and developing people
  • mentoring programs
  • information technology (technology to do some of the above)
  • collaboration software (especially)

Funny enough, as I write that list, I don't think I have ever seen "collaboration" by itself as knowledge management. It is ALWAYS in the context of buying software to help people collaborate. I have seen blessedly little on the actual act of collaboration and how that should work. The whole, sad, emphasis on "enterprise 2.0" or "social business" is all about the technology. As little as possible is said about what we actually expect people to do differently / better as a result.

So, sure, kill of KM if you need to. But whatever you do, please help people get their work done - whatever that might mean for your organization. I'll bet that doesn't mean "buy some software."

People resist stupidity, not change

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