Why KM needs technology
Stephen Bounds — Sat, 09/04/2011 - 09:03
It's become fashionable to bash the technologists who provide KM solutions as charlatans and snake oil salesmen lately (probably I've been guilty of this in the past myself).
But Buckman Labs and others that deployed technology-heavy solutions have perhaps been unfairly maligned. After all, they did see real and measurable benefits; the problems (as always) have come when people see technology as an KM solution that can be brought in and deployed rather than something that has to organically develop to support organisational processes.
On theknowledgecore's blog, there's a lengthy post on the future of KM that also contextualises its history. Titled "KM is dead! Long live knowledge", I encourage you to read the whole thing. However, I'm going to cross-post my comment here because I think it neatly summarizes my current thinking on the issue:
Although I mainly agree with your position, I do believe that technology is a core component of KM. There are a few reasons for that:
- If KM stands for anything, it has to mean management of knowledge in an organisational context. KM in a personal & social context has been happening for millenia quite nicely thank you and probably doesn’t need our help :)
- Most organisations are fundamentally artificial constructs, enacted by government legislation and/or created through a profit motive. This misalignment in organisational and personal interests creates a very different management need.
- Organisations have to assume that there will be non-continuity in personnel at various times.
That said, I also believe that just about all “KM solutions” out there on the market completely miss the point. Except in rare circumstances, capturing point/ad hoc solutions for reuse is of little value. The core “KM” work served by technology is to embed organisational process, to provide enough for a framework to allow people to be replaceable in the organisation while still embracing their uniquely human capabilities.
(We see this a lot by the way when IT comes to replace business systems. Often the people don’t really understand the deep rationale of why a business system does what it does. All they really understand is that the system provides the process structure and leads to the outcome they need.)
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