Structure of a KM-aware organisation
Stephen Bounds — Mon, 09/12/2013 - 22:30
Knowledge Management can be a discipline which is difficult to get taken seriously when it is constantly treated as an "extra" and "peripheral" to the core of the business. David Griffiths is seeking to address this through a new organisational structure that supports and embeds knowledge management functions deeply within the organisation's DNA.
It's a very interesting attempt, and I encourage you to read the post and give David your feedback. I see strong echoes of David's model with the 3-tier model proposed by Firestone and McElroy in 2004. In the image above, you can see how I've numbered the corresponding components of each model. This isn't an attempt to cite prior art, but rather to add some theoretical strength to the model that David is putting forward.
I think there are substantial advantages to the business-focused language that David is using. It will feel far more applied and relevant than Firestone and McElroy's fairly abstract model. It is also inclusive, allowing for specialists of all fields to contribute, whether or not they identify by the moniker of "KM".
My primary concern is that David's spiral model is isomorphically identical to the traditional organisational hierarchy. I don't believe that hierarchies are intrinsically flawed, as some people seem to think. However, David's diagram illustrates the weakness of a hierarchy rather well: look at how far removed the CxO positions are from the actual transactional space of the business! It seems implausible that they could have significant awareness of what alterations would best suit the evolution of the organisation from this position, or ability to put these changes into effect.
Rather, I think the model is most powerful when it stops at the "specialist" layer for "meta-management" of the organisation. I think that the CxO roles must take responsibility for observing and leading changes at any layer of the spiral, and thus they don't fit so neatly into the existing concept.
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