The KMUK 2011 conference this week reinforced for me that Knowledge Management is actually really quite simple, but simple does not equate to easy.
For all the tools and all the strategies and all the nuances and all the things that we to do complicate knowledge management, at it's heart it is about making sure that the decision makers in the organisation have access to the crucial knowledge they need to make decisions. Then its about making sure that the right conversations happen to identify capture and transfer that knowledge. Then it's about change management - changing to a world where knowledge is important.
It's the change management aspect that's the hard aspect. There is enough technology out there, there are well-defined processes that work extremely well, there is an understanding of the roles and skillsets needed, and nowadays there's a pretty good understanding of the governance elements as well. All of that is easy enough. It's the change that's hard.
I think that's where poeple often go wrong with their KM programs. They do the easy stuff, not the hard stuff. They buy the technologies. They print the booklets. They work with the enthusiasts and sing with the choir.
What they don't do so often, is have the really hard discussion with the CEO and the senior management team about the value KM can deliver to the organisation, and the few focus areas they need to address. They don't gain those high level sponsors. They don't go and tussle with the hard-pressed team leaders and work out what you can do to help them, and what they can do to help you. They don't get out and work in detail with the pilot projects, to deliver the spectacular successes that act as a beacon to the rest of the organisation.
Knowledge Management is not complicated. It really isn't, despite the complicated models people sometimes build. But it needs courage and it needs dedication and it needs perseverence and a thick skin, and it needs you to work at some very difficult conversations.