Wednesday 8 June 2011

Approaching the knowledge supply chain from the wrong end

This week I met another client, another keen KM team looking for help, and another set of KM models. And yet again, their primary KM model was a diagram of a Loop, representing the movement of knowledge through the company. As seems so often to be the case, it was a clockwise loop, and the first or second step was "Capture".

Now there is nothing wrong with this as one model among many, but for so many of my clients it seems to be the primary model. It's a PUSH model, representing the push of knowledge into the organisation, and its an EXPLICIT model, as the first step is to capture explicit knowledge. And we know that Explicit Push is only one quadrant of KM, and we also know that it is the most difficult of the quadrants for delivery of value.

As a thought experiment, I often ask my clients to draw the Loop the other way, driven by Pull. Instead of running clockwise with the first step being the identification of learning, I ask them to draw it anticlockwise, with the frst step being the recognition of a knowledge need.

It is very useful to think of KM as being an internal Knowledge Supply Chain for an organisation, and nobody ever approaches the supply chain from the supply end. You never say "I can make all this product - what shall I do with it? Where shall I store it?". Instead you start from the market end. You think "where is the market? how big is the market? How can I stimulate the market? What products does the market need? Whats the most efficient way to get those products to the market?"

That's how you should approach the Knowledge Supply chain. Ask yourself

"Whats the market for knowledge in my organisation?"
"How can I stimulate that market?"
"What knowledge does the market need?"
"Whats the most efficient way to get that knowledge to the point of need?"

That's approaching the knowledge supply chain from the right end.

1 comment:

Oz Benamram said...

The questions should not be about the market or the organization. They should be about the individual. "What do I need to complete the task at hand?"

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