The Pantyhose Fallacy and the Reality of Pants

In my earlier post today, KM and the Pantyhose Fallacy, I begged the indulgence of my male readers with the following words: “Stick with me, gentlemen. I’m sure there’s a male equivalent to this that I haven’t thought of yet.” Well there is an equivalent (or near equivalent) that is instructive: pants.

Traditionally, better quality men’s trousers have been sold in the following manner: they are ready to wear except for the fact that the hem is unfinished so that each wearer can tailor their pant legs to suit their individual preferences. This is a great example of the new operating principle I proposed in my prior post with respect to how we should deploy knowledge management tools in the 21st century:

Facing this challenge requires switching from anodyne mega projects to deploying technology that is capable and robust enough at the core to permit users to lightly tinker with its functionality around the fringes without requiring a team of IT experts. Following this path, you should end up with tools that perform their basic functions reliably and well, while allowing individual users to tailor those tools to meet their immediate needs.

This will require a new kind of discipline from knowledge managers and their IT colleagues. Rather than looking for an application that merely meets the expectations of the lowest common denominator of users, we’ll need to look for intelligently-engineered apps that do the basics well but that can be tweaked by users to meet their (reasonable) needs. The trick here is to find software that permits this kind of tailoring, yet does not require a great deal of money, training, time or IT intervention to accomplish the modifications. In other words, wiki-like simplicity and Facebook-like flexibility.

Here endeth my disquisition on knowledge management and clothing — at least for now!

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