Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Time to confess!

Err. I have a confession to make. What? Did you say something? No? Sure? OK!

If you’re a KMer and have a weak heart, then I suggest that you look away from the screen and don’t read this post till I tell you to do otherwise. Heh! :). 5 odd years ago, I picked up the book “Working Knowledge” by Thomas Davenport and Larry Prusak. But I don’t think I did a good job of reading it. In other words, I don’t think I was able to relate to the book the way I am able to, now; I don’t think I internalized it the way it should ideally have been. I happened to read other books on KM later but somehow did not get down to reading Working Knowledge again…though I must have planned for it many a time. I suspect that I was keen to pamper the independent and original thinker in me so I could finally rub my hands in glee when re-reading the book and discovering insights similar to the ones I myself would have gained through experience. (Please stop cackling!). OK, you can stop looking away from the screen and read the rest of this post. Everything that has the potential to kill you has been said.

I decided to pick up the book Working Knowledge (by Thomas Davenport and Larry Prusak – TD and LP) for the second time and relish it during my break last month. It was a truly juicy read. This post has some quotes, thoughts and ideas that I’d like to share and discuss based on the book. If you’re a KMer, then in all likelihood, you’ve already read and internalized this book. So, if you think this post is a day late and a dollar short, then……here’s my humble opinion. This post maybe a lot better than it would have been if I had written it 5-6 years ago. Because, the book has now been read from a perspective based on 8 odd years of KM experience. And like TD and LP themselves say, values and beliefs (which in turn are shaped by experience among other things) have an impact on what you understand and take from what you read. So there! :)

Before I go ahead and recount my interpretations and analysis of the book, I should probably mention the fact that I loved reading this book all the more because I got to read it amidst Mother Nature….trees, birds, fresh air and a beautifully blue sky. :)

Here are moments of the book I would like to capture and comment on.

WK: When Knowledge Management is being discussed for a company where knowledge isn’t a product, then “the business strategy needs to be supported by knowledge.”

Me: The implication may be the need for a KM adviser to the CEO rather than a KM Head in such companies.

“There is a vital connection between knowledge-oriented behaviour and overall employee performance.”

Me: Key reason why the HR folks and the operations head need to be involved and play an important role in KM initiatives.

WK: A critical aspect of KM will be “managing the flow of knowledge through and around the critical bottleneck of personal attention and learning capacity.

Me: Very important point, I think. Implies the usefulness of personal KM in channeling the right kind of knowledge to the right person. Also a reason why millions of blogs within the organization will not make sense unless there is some method in the madness and technology is leveraged to connect employees to exactly the kind of content they need. Or even better, design a blog system that moves away from “every employee gets a blog” strategy.

WK: “What creates the continuity that allows particular firms to thrive over time? We strongly believe that the way firms generate and pass on knowledge is an essential part of that continuity”

Me: Not just continuity but also evolution. For purposes of evolution, it would be important, at times, to move away from existing knowledge as well. Like TD and LP themselves indicate, there needs to be the right amount of questioning the knowledge that exists as well.

To be continued….

No comments: