Monday, 12 September 2011

Roles - the KM blindspot?

Accountability, not cha-cha Here at Knoco we are firm believers that a full KM framework requires defined roles and accountabilities, but it seems not everyone sees it this way.

I was with a client last week, and he drew out a folder of "KM Assessment models" and "KM maturity models" he had accumulated from a number of sources. The thing that struck me most forcibly was how few of them made any mention at all of KM roles and accountabilities.

Maybe that is some sort of blindspot? Maybe there is some thinking that says "KM should be part of everyone's role - part of a general culture shift - we don't need any special roles and accountabilities"? Maybe there is even a feeling that to have KM roles is to abdicate the need for others to work with knowledge?

We have seen far too many KM initiatives fail for lack of accountabilities to subscribe to these feelings and thinkings. One of the common reasons for failure is to remove the few people with accountability, and expect KM to run itself.

Think of the importance of roles in other management systems.

Take safety management - everyone needs to be safe, but would safety management work if you removed the HSE roles, the safety wardens, the "head of safety"?

Take financial management - everyone needs to be take care of company finances, but would financial management work if you removed the accountable budget holder role, the CFO, the accounts department, the invoicing clerk?

As Tom Davenport said - "The next time someone starts spouting the "(KM is) everybody's job" rigmarole to me, I'm going to retort, "So I guess since it's everybody's job to monitor costs and enhance revenues, you've also eliminated the finance and accounting departments?"

So don't develop a blindspot to the importance of KM roles. Without them, your KM framework will be incomplete, and your KM initiative will be at risk.

For more on KM roles, read here.

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