I was interviewed on Friday, in Schipol airport, by a lady writing an article for a Dutch banking magazine. She asked me, how relevant is KM during times of recession? I had a quick think, and I came up with 4 reasons why it is still very relevant. I would like to share them with you, and see what you think.
Firstly, I argued; recession is a time of change and disruption, when old business models and assumptions crumble, and new models need to be worked out quickly. The company that does not learn and adapt, does not survive. "Surviving recession" now becomes Critical Knowledge Topic #1. If, as I do, you view Knowledge Management as the systematic and strategic acquisition and deployment of knowledge, then KM need to be turned up to maximum setting, and aimed at "Learning how to survive".
Secondly, when the value of your financial assets is low, you look to release the value from your other assets. Knowledge is an asset you have for free - you already own it. Why not see how much value you can release from this (often unmanaged) asset?
Thirdly, when work is slack, you have the time and the resources to release this value. You can direct people towards identifying crucial knowledge, developing current best practice, and using the know-how of the organisation to rework and improve processes, procedures and business models, so that when the upturn comes, you hit the ground running (and running much faster than your competitors). Think about it - what does a football team do between matches? They learn and they train. They study themselves, they study their past performance, they study their opponents, and they improve their performance for the future. What does an army do, between wars? They learn and they train. They study themselves, they study their past performance, they study their opponents, and they improve their performance for the future. So what should a bank, or a business, do between business cycles? The answer seems obvious to me.
Finally, a downturn is a time when your knowledge starts to leave the building. With every departing employee, some critical know-how disappears. You need to employ KM to retain, as best you can, some of this knowledge. Now is not the time to be letting assets leak away.
When I get hold of the article for publication, which expands on these topics, I will post it here.