Being a Knowledge Manager is a precarious place to be, until KM is fully embedded.
Just this week we heard of another KM team disbanded in the aftermath of a merger.
The thought process behind such post-merger rationalisation goes like this;
- We promised short-term cost savings through the merger - what can we cut?
- We cannot cut the front line operations (although we can delay expenditure on some items).
- We cannot eliminate anything that directly supports the front line, such as procurement, or finance, but we could probably slim them down; combine our procurement and finance departments and make them smaller.
- We can safely cut anything that is 2 steps away from the line; the teams that work on things that will eventually help the front line. That's KM, Quality, Risk, R&D (in many companies) etc etc.
So KM is cut, because it is seen as only indirectly supporting the front line. It is seen as 2 steps away from where the money is made.
So how do you ensure your survival as a Knowledge Manager?
The answer is simple;
DIRECTLY SUPPORT THE FRONT LINE OF THE BUSINESS.
Work directly on business problems and on business issues, introducing the KM tools and techniques in order to solve those issues. Don't be generic, be specific. Introduce KM one business issue at a time, rather than focusing on generic roll-out of technologies or processes (until the commitment is made, in which case you can be generic).
Then when the merger happens, and the axeman comes to call, the business will say "don't cut KM; we need them to win this contract, deliver this project, or develop this product".
Stay a only one step from the business. Stay relevant. Add Value. Survive.
(see my post on "putting a man on the moon" for more explanation)