KM is dead ... long live Knowledge Management!

UPDATE Nov 2015: If you are interested in an ongoing conversation about Knowledge Management and how to apply it, please check out our newly launched online magazine RealKM!

David Griffiths has noted that Knowledge Management is no longer one of the 25 most popular management tools as measured by Bain & Co's biannual Management Tools and Trends survey. In a post titled "Is KM relevant anymore?", David writes:

In 2006 KM was ranked as the 10th most popular tool out of the top 25 chosen by survey participants. In 2008 it dropped to 22nd for satisfaction and received the lowest rating of all tools within respondents from large organisations. In 2010 it dropped again, being ranked 24th out of the top 25 tools. Now in 2012 (the 2013 report) KM has fallen out of the top 25 ... The problem is that the need for KM still exists ...

In my view, Knowledge Management is no longer being embraced as a "tool" because it should never have been a tool. KM is an applied discipline, not a single tool or method. As David says, KM is in a prime position to assist with the current major roadblocks facing organisations and specifically those relating to sustainability, adaptability, and innovation.

The principles behind KM can be used to define a problem space and predict what tools are likely to successfully improve an organisation. But the idea of a singular "KM tool" makes as much sense as an "HR tool" or a "Finance tool". KM is a capability, not a project or tool.

So in fact I welcome the Bain & Co report that KM is no longer seen as a "tool". It gives us the opportunity to re-position KM correctly: as an ongoing, scientifically-grounded, strategically important capability instead of a simple tactical "fix".

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