Friday, May 1, 2009

Poll ...

Been a few days ... i ran a poll on the blog here. The idea behind the poll was simple. What do we think is the way forward for KM. Why ask this question? Simple ... the way the realm of business is moving today, it seems that this question is a natural corollary. But, that wasnt really the reason for the question. The question came up from the more basic concern. More and more, KM practitioners are coming round to the idea that KM is not just about documents. There are a few organizations which i have interacted with, which seem to disagree, but these are not large in numbers. This implies that the idea of KM is surely moving away from content to collaboration. Or, the way i like to put it ... from codification of knowledge, to a scenario where KM is the facilitator for the flow of knowledge. This seems to make sense, because knowledge is primarily created by its flow. There was a poster i had seen ... It went ... If i have one idea, and you have one idea, and if we share those ideas, together, we now have four ideas. Makes sense ... at least in the context of shared knowledge. We agree that knowledge grows exponentially when it is shared. So, this is not a question anymore. Or, so i think.

The question then comes up is, what next. And this is where i could come up with three scenarios ...

1. The next big thing in KM could be the drive of KM towards Web 2.0, more participative, more interactive tools. I am not trying to be restrictive here, and used the term Web 2.0 to avoid death-by-jargon. You could include here virtual worlds, semantic web, or anything similar that you like. The idea is that the nature of tools going forward is participative.

2. Or, the next big thing in KM could be the dovetailing of KM as a function, or a discipline with other disciplines in the organization, so the two can function together to deliver greater value to the organization. One example that came to mind was that of innovation. What some organizations refer to as Non-Linear growth. Agreed, plenty has been written and discussed about the idea of innovation. But, the idea here is not to do that in the first place. Rather, the question is, would KM dovetail to a function like Innovation, or Ideation, to become part of the new-idea/innovation value chain? After all, innovation is knowledge-driven at its basic level.

3. Or, the next big thing in KM could be KM becoming an operational excellence tool, one of the tools available to oeprational managers to drive excellence in sales and delivery processes.

The results were quite expected. Web 2.0 got 45% of the votes, while Innovation got 36% of the votes, and Operational Excellence got 18% of the votes. What this means is that KM is far from being a hygiene factor, and we are yet to see the evolution of KM into something different. That going forward, KM would tend to drive the idea of conversations in the organizations to the next level, and at the same time, could move towards being a tool which can be leveraged for driving the next level of change for organizations. Actually, this reminds me of a post by Luis Suarez (cant seem to locate it!) where he mentioned the idea of a CKO being re-christened the Chief Conversation Officer. this also brings home the point that there is expectation that the contribution of KM as a driver of next-generation change is high, and that KM can be expected to play a meaningful role here.

This, actually, stands to reason. With the tools of social computing being more and more felt within organizations, there are changes (howsoever slight) in the way organizations are accepting the fact that knowledge, and expertise, are in fact disaggregated in nature, and that to deliver value, organizations need to not just recognize this, but also tap into this, by tapping into the distributed knowledge base, and also the networks that naturally develop withn an organization around this distributed knowledge base. True, this change is far slower than what a lot of us expect, but that is not surprising either, given the shift in dynamics that this seems to signify. Having said that, however, this is something which seems to have begun. And this, probably, is the large part of the change which organizations are looking at.

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