Thursday 12 January 2017

KM - one of the four forces of change?

This Linked-In pulse article suggests that KM is one of the four forces of business change in the world. Can this really be the case?

The article, which appears to be a reprint of earlier work by Ruth Tappin, suggests that there are four forces of change in the early 21st century organisation:

  • Globalization, 
  • technological change, 
  • knowledge management and 
  • cross border cooperation

Globalisation is something we all recognise - the need to work in a global economy, and not to assume that what we know to be true locally will work globally. Globalisation requires every organisation to think in a different way.

Technological change, particularly the change in the way information is created, shared and used, is rapidly changing the way organisations work, make decisions, and manage their resources. Technology supports globalisation, but brings increased demands,increased stress and an increased rate of change.

Cross-border collaboration is described in these articles in the context of collaborating internal borders. Technology allows, and globalisation demands, that modern organisations are completely permeable to knowledge and information. However increasingly collaboration corsses organisational boundaries as well, in integrated supply chains, consortia and joint ventures.

So is Knowledge Management a fourth force for change, or it is the response to the other three? The articles assert that "Managing its knowledge assets can give a company a competitive edge as it effectively utilizes the expertise, skills, intellect, and relationships of members of the organization" - so describe it more as an enabler of change than as a force for change.

I would say that KM is not a force for change, but is the management system that makes change possible. It is probably no coincidence that KM began when globalisation and communication technology were just beginning to take off in the late 1980s.

We live in a global, collaborative and technology-enabled world, where knowledge is one of the primary assets of successful organisations. Knowledge Management is the way to mange that primary asset.

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