Leveraging Knowledge Management

The tire jack is a great symbol for knowledge management.  With the right amount of leverage, you can lift and support something much bigger than your KM effort.  In the context of law firm knowledge management, one way of testing your KM leverage is to ask:  for every hour I spend on KM, how many lawyer hours are saved?  If you can’t answer that question, you need to check your metrics.  Are you measuring the right things?  If you are, are your results commensurate with the effort expended?

Asking questions like these help you understand part of the value proposition for your KM effort.  It also helps you understand what your priorities should be.  Presumably, you need to focus on the activities that provide the greatest leverage.

The next question to ask is this:  is my current level of KM leverage sustainable without additions to headcount?  The answer to that better be yes since additions to headcount in this economy are likely to be close to impossible this year in most law firms.  If the answer is no, what are you going to do about it?

At LegalTech 2009, Lee Bryant and I will be leading a discussion on using Web 2.0 tools to create and sustain meaningful leverage for your KM program.  The session is on Tuesday at 10:30am in the Sutton Parlor South.  I do hope you’ll join us.

[Photo Credit:  Tamaki, Creative Commons license]

4 thoughts on “Leveraging Knowledge Management

  1. Mary,
    first, congratulations for your blog.
    I’m a casual reader and appreciate your posts. Nevertheless, I disagree with the tire jack as a useful symbol for knowledge management:
    1. it’s a tool vs. KM is mostly about people
    2. you use it only in breakdown situations vs. KM is embedded in day-to-day work
    3. (nearly) everybody would like to avoid the situation to make use of it vs. people make use of KM because it helps to deliver value
    So, one picture says more than a thousand words. Mmh, difficult to say, but maybe this one (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rwong/2702621401/) is a better symbol for KM?

    1. That’s a great photo, Felix!

      As with most things, it probably is unwise to stretch a metaphor too far. My point in using a tire jack was to focus on something that, with very little energy expended, could life and support a much larger thing. KM done right acts in the same way: with very little energy expended, we help our colleagues do more and do better. That to me is a very useful form of leverage and a good goal for any KM effort.

      – Mary

  2. I subscribed to your blog a couple of months ago and appreciate your perspective. As you compile information for your preso at LegalTech 2009, you might be interested in reading about what many are saying re. the use of wikis during a recession as a knowledge management and collaboration tool. Aberdeen has published reports relevant to this and co-hosted a webinar with us (you can download it http://www.etouch.net/home/). Wiki consultants/bloggers are writing about it, as are journalists – http://blogs.zdnet.com/Hinchcliffe/?p=223.

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