This website covers 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.

KM History: KM drivers from APQC

APQC published a report on knowledge management (free summary, $395 for full report) in 1999 to help people understand what it is and why it is interesting. Here are the drivers that Carla O'Dell and the other authors identified at the time:

  1. Downsizing and restructuring have broken up existing networks and the "unsung experts" that organizations have counted on to invent, discover, and transfer knowledge and best practices have been lost.
  2. Massive investments in information technology. Far more work at all levels, in all industries, is done in front of a computer terminal and around a meeting table than on an assembly line. IT investments provide access to information across and outside the corporation almost instantly. It also provides a way to create information and capture knowledge. This knowledge is invisible and, for all practical purposes,operationally inaccessible to the rest of the organization.
  3. Customer contact. Employees at all levels are in direct contact with customers. What they are learning about their needs seldom travels beyond the individual if there is no structured process to capture and understand it.
  4. As employees become more empowered, they create new solutions to local problems, but have no effective means to alert others to the breakthroughs or transfer them.
  5. Internal and external benchmarking has awakened firms to the power of finding and adopting best practices.
  6. Globalization. Employees are scattered around the world, which means the engine of knowledge is working around the clock, but geographical, biological, and language barriers prevent real-time access to each other.
  7. Customers are demanding that the knowledge of the entire firm be brought to bear on their problems. They want the benefit of solutions developed for other customers, in other places.
  8. Knowledge work and collaboration: Knowledge workers are used to working as "independent producers," yet collaborative work is necessary for complex projects. The tools for effective collaborative knowledge work are not well known or disseminated.
  9. The need for increased speed of response and reduced cycle-time. Firms no longer have the time to reinvent all solutions.

These factors still hold water, only more so. What additional drivers are there today?

  • Building strategy with knowledge as a component. Deliberately identify the data, information and knowledge that the organization needs to succeed and build the processes and systems to support it.
  • IT investment has changed. As with any other adoption curve, people are talking about technology differently. Or the voices saying, "it's just a tool" are getting louder. KM projects need to encompass the business needs, not the technology.
  • Technology base. The baseline technology available is much deeper. This gives us a larger platform on which to build out new KM approaches and the systems to suport them. The types of technology (software and hardware) keep changing, and these will always find there way into the organization and some level of utility.
  • Collaboration is getting bigger. There seems to be more emphasis on projects that focus on getting people communicating and sharing their knowledge across the enterprise.
  • Social life of knowledge. As Brown & Duguid suggest, ideas evolve as people talk about them and work with them together. Discussions of social network analysis and social software (six degrees) are the center of an interesting direction with knowledge management. Very close to collaboration.
  • Innovation. Speeding innovation. Getting innovations to the market.

Decisions, decisions

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