It’s hard not to feel a little hung over after a weekend binge that included Hurricane Ike, the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the sale of Merrill Lynch and the potential restructuring of AIG. As we return to our offices this morning and our safe debates about taxonomy and technology, web 1.0 vs web 2.0, mandatory participation in knowledge management efforts vs incentives for voluntary KM participation, it’s a good time to remember why we do what we do: to ensure that the right information is in the right hands at the right time so that decision makers can make better decisions. After the past weekend’s binge, it’s hard not to wonder about the quality of decision making that preceded the debacle. It may be years before we learn (if we ever do) whether any of these firms or the government agencies involved (i.e., the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department) had viable knowledge management programs and what impact those programs had.
Law firms aren’t immune from the hubris that seems to affect the financial sector and we certainly suffer the effects of the decisions made on Wall Street. In light of that reality, we should take a second look at our law firm knowledge management programs. To the extent we even can “manage knowledge,” are we working with the right knowledge? Do the decision makers actually use our resources? If the answers to either of those questions is no, then you need to ask why. In times of turmoil, it’s more important than ever to be relevant. If knowledge management isn’t in the thick of things and making a difference, then why are we doing what we’re doing?