Just glanced through the latest HBR-South Asia magazine (Dec 2007) and saw something thought-provoking - but not so pleasing - on KM. A survey amongst business executives about Management Tools has yielded some expected (and some surprising) results. HBR has explored the perception of various Management tools in terms of usage and satisfaction. The scale moves from Rudimentary Tools to Speciality Tools (X axis) to denote Low to High Satisfaction and Rudimentary Tools to Blunt Instruments (Y axis) to denote Low to High Usage. Power Tools fall on the RHS Top Corner (High Usage and Satisfaction).
Guess where KM falls? (Yes, KM has thankfully been categorized as a Management Tool. One war won, eh?!) No, not under Rudimentary Tools....at least not any longer. It is perceived to be a Blunt Instrument and a classic one at that - one that is used widely but doesn't score too much on satisfaction. In HBR's square, it lies a bit to the left of the middle of the square and closer to the top of it. (I'd suggest you see the magazine if my write-up hasn't helped you visualize where the 'KM point' lies ;)) The article points out that KM technology is too complex for it to provide satisfying results. What's a bit annoying for me is that Collaborative Innovation and Corporate Blogs are plotted as separate tools and not apparently considered to be part of KM. But both these are plotted as Rudimentary Tools (Low Usage and Satisfaction!) and fall behind "KM" as HBR sees it.
The Power Tools include Strategic Planning, Customer Segmentation, CRM etc. Speciality Tools include M&A.
The intriguing part is - Why is KM high on Usage despite being low on Satisfaction? Apart from being good/bad news for KM evangelists (depending on the way you look at it and what you predict for the future), maybe this proves that KM is seen as logically essential and therefore something to be implemented irrespective of whether the outcome is tangible and/or visible.
What do you think?
PS: This issue of HBR has something on Storytelling as well...will have to read it some time!