Thursday 3 March 2011

My three KM wishes

Flower fairy
If a kindly fairy offered me three wishes for Knowledge Management, here's what I would wish today (tomorrow I might wish for something different!)

1. I wish that Knowledge Management could start to be seen for the strategic business tool that it really is. This means that directors, CEOs and senior managers would realise that knowledge is their key competitive asset and their primary means of survival in this changing age, and that Knowledge Management is the way to draw competitive advantage from that asset.

2. I wish that we could come to a clear understanding, collectively, as an industry, of what Knowledge Management really is. This is a tough wish - the fairy might prefer to grant something simpler instead, but there is still massive confusion over KM/IM/content management/records management and so on. For me, its simple - if you focus information its information management, if you focus on content, its content management -  for knowledge management the focus needs to be on people, and what they know, and how they can access better knowledge to make better decisions. This confusion is so deep that the first thing I say to poeple, when they ask me about KM, is "what do you understand the term to mean".

3. Sticking with the people theme, I wish we could finally all agree that KM is not a technology solution, no matter how appealing the technology. In the 90s, we were promised that Intranets would deliver good knowledge management. Then that good search engines would deliver knowledge management. Then that SharePoint would deliver knowledge management. In each case the old promise failed, in each case the new technology said "this time it's different". Now, "web2.0 and social software will deliver knowledge management" - "this time it's different". This is a very pervasive mindset, and seduces many people; you see that at conferences, where people stand up and say "Knowledge Management, it's all about people and culture, and not about technology" and then spend 20 minutes showing screenshots of their wiki. Guys - thats the wrong emphasis.

Tomorrow I might want 3 more wishes, but that will do for today. What are your three wishes?

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