All healthy things evolve. According to the comedian, Jimmy Fallon, even “Mom Dancing: evolves. If you don’t believe him, take a look at the video above. (It’s Friday, folks!)
So if everything evolves, what’s happening to your knowledge management program? Is it moving on an upwards trajectory as it adapts to meet new and changing needs in your organization? Or is it stagnating like a fetid pond hosting malaria-laden mosquitos?
If you’re not sure, chances are you are stagnating. What are some signs of stagnation?
- little introspection or analysis regarding your KM program
- a lack of energy about KM on the part of your KM group or, worse still, your organization
- a dearth of actionable new ideas for your KM program
- your KM efforts are focused primarily on maintenance, without scope for R&D or innovation
- you are stuck at one level of development (e.g., creating document collections or keeping the intranet functioning) and aren’t growing and stretching to explore new forms of knowledge sharing
- malaria-laden mosquitos
What about some signs of growth and evolution?
- you have established sensible and stable information management practices
- the people in your organization recognize the pitfalls (and benefits) of knowledge silos
- your organization has active communities of practice that facilitate knowledge sharing
- your KM program is considered to be of strategic importance to your organization
- the people in your organization conduct themselves as individual personal knowledge managers who also have a stake in the enterprise-wide KM effort
If you’d like a more structured approach to gauging your evolution, I’d suggest you take a look at one of the many KM maturity models that the wonderful Stan Garfield has collected. And, while you’re at it, see some of the articles he has included that question the usefulness of maturity models. As with many things in knowledge management, there is ample room for diversity and disagreement!
(For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of a maturity model, it is a diagnostic tool developed to help assess programs or organizations against a common standard of accomplishment and development. If you’d like a further explanation of the concept see Consultant’s Tool: What is a Maturity Model.)
This may be more than you can think about on a Friday, but I’d strongly suggest that you set some time aside in the next week or two to go through these models and see how your KM program stacks up. It might give you some new ideas and new energy to move out of that stagnated pool into a more vibrant future for KM in your organization.
For those of you who remember music from the 1980s, you’ll have recognized the inspiration for my title: Tracy Chapman’s “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution.” Here’s a video of the song for nostalgia buffs.