Is KM dropping the ball on collaboration?

Peter Anthony-Glick has written a thoughtful post and blog wondering why KM staff sometimes actively resist the use of internal social collaboration tools.

My view is that the key capability KM generally lacks is a robust framework for evaluating proposed changes to organisational capabilities (whether that be a technology, process, or management change) and being able to usefully discuss what it is likely to achieve.

Is social collaboration the "fix" required for all organisations? I don't think so. It's an initiative with specific benefits and costs, likely to pass the value test within some areas and not for others.

Despite all the chest-thumping by business experts, there is no universal mandate for organisations to become more "innovative" or "collaborative". Indeed, for some organisations the ability to extract maximum rent from a monopoly position demands the opposite!

But I do think KM should be able to form a view and have a strategic conversation about the likely impacts about the introduction of social media, as indeed it should about many other topics. KM should have a considered and reasoned view on things such as:

- performance ranking systems (why was there no senior KM person reviewing the impact of stack ranking at Microsoft?)
- whether knowledge should be held by a pool of experts (eg most law firms) or institutionalized (eg McDonalds)?
- instituting processes such as Scrum
- exposing historical documentation in an online archive
- and just about anything else people can dream up!

The distributed nature of innovation and expertise means that KM is unlikely to be the initiator of most worthwhile initiatives within an organisation. But we can take the responsibility for understanding and championing initiatives that have the best chance of making a difference.

If we can't describe the relative merits of choices that organisations make, why should we be given a seat at the strategy table?

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