KM is dead; long live KM

KM is dead. Long live KM!

That was my first thought on reading Dave Snowden‘s response to the oft asked question: Is KM dead?

My view for about two years now is that it is on its last leg as a strategic movement (otherwise known as a fad) in management. We also have that infallible predictor that a fad cycle is coming to an end: government adopts it as industrial best practice.

Now don’t get me wrong, the objectives of KM theory and practice persist and will continue to be of great importance. They are clear, simple and important and can be summarised as follows:

1. To support effective decision making
2. To create the conditions for innovation

Too often KM comes across as a destination, when in fact it is – should be – a process. When I was working in the realm of KM, many years ago, the biggest challenge I had was convincing people that KM should not be considered as an end in and of itself, but rather as a means to an end. To use an analogy from a recent post, many people expected KM to teach them a dance when they should be using it to learn how to dance.

Most organizations are made up of very capable individuals, masters of their own domains. What most organizations are unable to do, however, is harness all that individual mastery so that the organization performs at its peak capability. Over time, and as I’ve been studying the process of mastery in individuals, I’ve come to realize that the end that KM is – or should be – working towards is that of ‘organizational mastery.’

What I haven’t quite gotten my hands around yet is what exactly it means for an organization to attain mastery. Dave’s insightful post, though, gives me a bit more work with as I try to figure that out. What encourages me most is that many of the ‘good’ parts of KM have found their way into the daily life of organizations, and that the ‘bad’ parts are fading away (or, at the least, losing their importance in the minds of many organizations).

If you’re at all interested in the current state of KM – or at least one wise man’s thoughts on it – I encourage you to check it out as well.

KM is dead; long live KM!

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