Life After KM

In a prior post I talked about how to sort out priorities for your knowledge management department by imagining what you would choose to focus on if you were trying to do it all by yourself. Now, here’s a tougher thought experiment:

What if your law firm believes that in the short term it cannot afford a KM department at all?

Yet presumably during your tenure the lawyers of your firm have come to rely on a certain level of KM service to meet client requests.  So what would your firm need to do to maintain that minimum level of knowledge management service?  What would the firm choose to focus on?

This isn’t meant to be a depressing exercise, but attempting an answer should help you identify which of your KM services are perceived to have the closest link to or greatest impact on client service.  For some firms, the answer will be to keep one person to provide KM concierge (or Help Desk type) services.  For another firm, they’ll be fine with functioning expertise location.  Others might need just one IT person to flip the switch to provide another wiki, blog or extranet as requested.  How many firms will feel it absolutely necessary to maintain their KM document repositories? How many will pay support staff to generate after-action reviews?

Do you know the answers to these questions for your firm?  Do you know what your lawyers and firm management think about the services you provide?  Which of your services they really can’t live without?  If not, you’d better find out while there’s still time to act on the information.

[Photo Credit:  Pete Reed]

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6 thoughts on “Life After KM

  • April 17, 2009 at 8:40 am
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    It's true that not every activity we undertake is greeted with wild enthusiasm. It's important to know which services/tools are seen as supporting the business, and which are perceived as less valuable.
    The next step, of course, is to decide how to treat those “low-use” activities. Is this a communications challenge, or is the service really not the right choice for your organisation? How do you decide whether to go to battle for something, or just retire it?

  • April 17, 2009 at 10:19 am
    Permalink

    You're asking all the right questions, Wendy. The real challenge is
    achieving the balance between what the lawyers seem to like and what is in
    fact “good for the firm.” No matter if they don't like the castor oil,
    sometimes they do have to take a dose. That said, I'd be inclined to defer
    to their preferences as much as possible (since they are closer to the
    client) unless I were absolutely convinced that a particular “castor oil”
    project was really truly for their own good and not just about KM ego.

    – Mary

  • April 17, 2009 at 12:40 pm
    Permalink

    It's true that not every activity we undertake is greeted with wild enthusiasm. It's important to know which services/tools are seen as supporting the business, and which are perceived as less valuable.
    The next step, of course, is to decide how to treat those “low-use” activities. Is this a communications challenge, or is the service really not the right choice for your organisation? How do you decide whether to go to battle for something, or just retire it?

  • April 17, 2009 at 2:19 pm
    Permalink

    You're asking all the right questions, Wendy. The real challenge is
    achieving the balance between what the lawyers seem to like and what is in
    fact “good for the firm.” No matter if they don't like the castor oil,
    sometimes they do have to take a dose. That said, I'd be inclined to defer
    to their preferences as much as possible (since they are closer to the
    client) unless I were absolutely convinced that a particular “castor oil”
    project was really truly for their own good and not just about KM ego.

    – Mary

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