Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Of Measurement ...

Wikipedia defines Measurement as ...

The estimation of the magnitude of some attribute of an object ... (theres more, but this quite sums it up!)

Now, when it comes to measuring KM, we are not even sure what is the object, and what attribute of this object we are trying to measure. As such, there doesnt seem to be a direct mechanism of measuring the impact of KM, because the impact of KM is not on KM itself, but on some business processes. Now, this is what makes this so nebulous. The business processes vary from one part of the organization to another, and hence, the impact of KM on these also varies from part of the organization to another. In this kind of a scenario, can there be a direct way to measure the impact of KM? I am not talking about measuring KM (i dont think that would make sense), because KM cannot be the end in itself.

I came across a post by Dave Snowden about setting targets for KM. Dave is spot on ... if you are setting targets for KM, you really havent understood KM. Especially the part where he says ...

The early abortive attempt involved things like requiring x documents contributed to a community of practice or similar measures. Net result there was meaningless material been published to achieve a target along with plagiarism in many cases.

I quite agree with the observation here. Having said this, there are two thoughts i wanted to make:

1. The idea of the software which gives thank you credits ... sounds like a nice idea. The crazy part, i think, is the part where these credits are encashed. I would look more at the possibility of generating social capital for folks who are earning these points. Something like "Featured Bloger of the Month" ... or, some such idea?

2. Having said that setting targets for KM is quite akin to taking the wrong road, the point is, that managers need to figure out the return on the money being invested in KM. Since there are no direct ways, we need to rely on indirect measures. Something i have written about here.

The way i see it ... the impact is more in terms of the impact, and the kinds of results in terms of improvement in business processes can be delivered by KM, and no way we can have a direct measurement of KM which is possible ... or desirable.

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