Going Above and Beyond

Going above and beyond means pushing past the usual — doing more. In knowledge management, the usual often entails identifying a problem and then looking for the nearest technology solution. This almost reflexive approach has given technology vendors a wonderful new line of business: “KM solutions.” However, it hasn’t always resulted in workable solutions for the purchaser.

One reason for the tendency to focus on technology is the view that KM is largely about gathering and organizing things that can be found, such as documents, e-mails, hyperlinks, contact information, etc. This results, for example, in the endless quest for the latest and greatest search engine. However, even the most tech-savvy organization can find stuffed in its closets skeletons from botched implementations, where everything was done by the vendor’s book but the users couldn’t be convinced to actually use the product. Or if they used it, they did so with gritted teeth.

So what’s the Achilles’ heel of tech solutions? The users! Taking this one step further, it’s not just the users — it’s the fundamentals of human nature and interaction, and it’s the organizational culture those users create, destroy and recreate incrementally every day. Until you’ve mastered this Achilles’ heel, your knowledge management efforts won’t be entirely successful.

Given the extraordinary technology available today, KM should be a cakewalk. But it isn’t. If anything, the availability of cool tech toys has made more apparent the non-tech challenges of effective KM.

So now, the fun begins.

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