I had posted a poll at blog ... asking what you think most describes KM. Or, at least, the way we see KM today. The question comes from a thought about whether KM is becoming a hygiene criterion? I dont think so, but wanted to get opinion. Why i dont think this is because of two reasons. One, there is plenty to do in organizations to take KM to a level where it can deliver on its potential, and two, the changes that KM is seeing, with the evolution of technology, and the evolution of organizational concepts arount it, means that KM as a discipline itself is evolving into something which is creating even greater potential for creating value for organizations. For example, the power of conversations is something which is now being understood outside the organizational context, and this is something which managers are beginning to realize, too, as being applicable to within the organizational context, too.
The question i had asked was what you feel KM is ... whether a tool, or a function, or something else. There were 14 votes (ok, not too many), out of which 12 people thought that KM is a function. What this implies is that we feel that KM is not just a set of tools which can be used to solve specific business problems, but rather, a discipline or function by itself, which forms a part of the strategic framework of the organization.
To begin with, KM as an idea doesnt lend itself well to point intervention ... something i have written about ... rather, KM requires a continuum of activities, which can build up the environment for value-add. This is essentially because KM is basically about people, and so, cant be just used as a tool which is used to solve a particular problem, and kept back to the toolkit. Another is that KM, the idea of harnessing knowledge for solving problems, developing products, creating and sustaining excellence, or for a large number of other things, has to align with the strategic imperatives of the organization. What this implies is that there must be more understanding of how KM needs to align with business objectives, and to this extent, there must be greater connections between KM and the business functions.
This is a question i had blogged about earlier ... and the response i am getting is quite different from what i was asking then. There is also the point to see that KM by itself is not an end in itself, and so, rather than being an output in itself, it is the facilitator for creating certain outputs. And what follows is that since KM is the facilitator, there must be some level of blending which KM has with other functions in the organization, which it is enabling. This overlap is actually a good thing, because this ensures that KM is indeed blended with the business functions, ensuring that the objectives of KM and the organizations are aligned.