KM: Think Small?

The Downside of Knowledge Management found via Blunt Force Trauma.

This article provides a nice counter-point to the low-cost klog network. The article concludes that:

Here’s the bottom line:
– for specialist communication between specialist groups, KM is a great idea
– for broader, much more useful communication across an entire enterprise, KM will not work very efficiently unless you implement a major awareness program

Wait a minute. This is beginning to sound expensive. I thought you could implement KM for $40 a desk.


This is a great piece to read if you are susceptable to being dazzled by the possiblities of technology (which certainly happens to me quite often).

The conclusion that the deployment of KM with cheap or free tools is still expensive is based on the requirements of senior level buy-in and staff training needed in order to deploy KM tools across the enterprise. These are items that a grass-roots implementation most likely lack.

I think there is an assumption at the base of that idea, however. The assumption is that KM solutions must be applied consistently across the entire organization in order to be doing KM well. Why? Can’t a solution or tool be used by a small group within the enterprise and derive value and benefit from it? Does the entire company have to be wired into a KM network in order to consider a KM initiative a success?

Perhaps KM can only happen among small, informal groups within the organization. There have not been many success stories from enterprise-level deployments of KM systems. Maybe truly valuable knowledge sharing only happens with informal swarming connections and rapid permutations thereof.

I’m just thinking out loud here. I do believe that training is very important but probably less so than having an organizational culture that at a minimum does not actively discourage the sharing of information and knowledge.

I’m very interested in hearing some other opinions on micro vs. macro KM.

2 thoughts on “KM: Think Small?

  1. You’re right on track in several areas:

    * There’s no reason to assume that KM must be integrated and pervasive. In fact, I’ve encountered quite a bit of hearsay evidence that “big KM” solutions like “corporate portals” go largely unused … and a big cost per seat.

    * There’s no reason to assume that a one-size-fits-all solution is the answer. Bloggers obviously love to share their ideas online. Others prefer topical, ad hoc email exchanges. Some prefer casual, face-to-face exchanges. There are many styles for communicating knowledge.

    * There’s no reason to assume that everyone in an organization can and should contribute to (or even use) online knowledge resources. But there are some kinds of KM solutions that should be accessible to nearly everyone in the organization — for example, submitting innovative ideas or suggestions for change. (Warning: I have a business partnership with one such vendor.)

    I need to find out more about K-logs. But already I can tell that klogging will *inevitably* become an essential part of *practical* KM.

    I would be interested in your reaction to some of the articles on my site, — in particular, “KM for small companies,” “Big KM vs. small KM,” and “KM Myths.”

    I’m also very interested in faceted classification, and I’d like to know whether you or your readers are aware of any formal or informal communities devoted to faceted classification.

    Thanks, and keep up the good thinking!!!

    I’ll spend more time reviewing your blogs as soon as possible.

    Phil Murray

  2. Pingback: High Context Consulting » Blog Archive » Thank You Phil Murray!

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