Tuesday, September 02, 2008

KM - Journey Vs Destination

Experience gives me the assurance that KM exists so it can deliver one or more of these four key tangible benefits to organizations: Operational Efficiency, Customer Intimacy, Innovation and Learning/Competency Development.

Most organizations, boringly enough, look for Operational Efficiency via KM. Because they can't think beyond cutting costs and time. Or because it is easier to prove improvement in efficiency as compared to, say, Innovation or Learning benefits. But, a serious challenge in terms of dipping customer satisfaction or the presence of a significantly novice workforce or a serious passion for breakthroughs (and/or a dying business) urges organizations to look beyond Operational Efficiency. At least, that's what it seems like to me. What is seen as high priority (and as safe) is attempting to be better at operations. Most other initiatives are 'risky' & complicated and, moreover, do not assure benefits. In other words, "Don't rock the boat!" is a prevalent attitude unless there is an alien on the boat or it seems to be capsizing.

Stepping away from the proven outcome(s) of KM, it struck me that the ultimate benefit of an effective KM initiative (with multiple dimensions) actually lies in the process of implementing KM. Let me elaborate. In the attempt to achieve these tangible outcomes, the process of creating an environment that appreciates and celebrates knowledge management involves concepts and philosophies of sharing, learning, collaboration and reuse. What this means is the ushering in of a unified work culture (the lack of which is the bane of many a large organization today). The next thing I see as an ultimate benefit is the necessity of instilling a single and well-defined (and understood) sense of purpose in order to set up such a unified culture! Step out of the CFO-mindset and step into that of a passionate founder and you'll see the meaning and joy of KM as an enabler for a unified work culture and a single sense of purpose!


krish said...

HI Nimmy!

If we can inculcate the personal KM spirits in each person, what you have said as the spirit of the KM journey can be enjoyed without waiting for destination.


Nimmy said...

Hello Krish....Good to see you again...! Thank you for the comment....I quite agree! Working on a culture that is focused on each individual (personal KM) will quite contribute to enjoying the journey - the spirit of KM! Indeed...!

Prashant Sree said...

Hi Nimmy,

Great iam reading about unified work culture and sense of purpose in your blog now.,. Currently iam reading "Made in Japan" by Akio Morito, SONY founder, and in that he shares the management philosopies of Japanese countries.,.

What you say about KM is indeed true. Its the process which eventually benefits the company !! And the unified work culture and sense of purpose can be achieved only by the Management which makes the decision.,. Iam not sure,but i feel that to improve the 4 tenets , you have mentioned in the starting of the article, like Operational efficiency etc, the Japanese style of Management is the best solution. (We are currently slaves to the American style of Management )

P.S: You are very much passionate about KM.,.Iam sure you will come up with your own management philosophy ;)

GodSpeed. :)


@k$#@T! said...

Wish it was that way in all organizations!!!

Well written - would like to read morefrom you...

Try this: http://www.linkedin.com/answers/management/change-management/MGM_CMG/126294-14522762?browseIdx=0&sik=1220433761581&goback=%2Eamq

An interesting read on KM - a question I posted about a year ago...

Nimmy said...

Prashant: Hey! Thanks for those tidbits....! I have a very safe answer....take the best of both worlds...Japanese and American. The Japanese are really meticulous and pay a lot of attention to detail...have wonderful concepts when it comes to continuous process improvement and customer intimacy. Americans are cool at innovation and have a less controlled way of managing their organizations. Take both...take whatever suits your situation! :-)

And thanks so much for appreciating my passion for KM! My blog is the place where I get to throw all my KM ideas and philosophies - mundane, silly, good - whatever!! Sometimes it doesn't make a difference to my work and sometimes it excites me enough to change the way I work...maybe someday it will excite me enough to write more than a blog post...! :-)

Nimmy said...


Thanks for dropping in (and connecting on LinkedIn). And thanks for the compliment. Hope I get to write stuff that makes sense more often. I don't think I can churn out profound stuff by the day...but, yes, hopefully often enough to develop a nice network of KMers.

I like it when people pose such questions. Wakes me up and makes me think....!

I read the Q&A thread on LinkedIn and found it really interesting. Nice set of discussions you seem to have triggered off.

Atul said...

Nimmy, while what you are saying makes sense, fact is, a lot of the initiatives need investment, and organizations are in the quarter spin ... which means that somewhere, there are a series of destinations, which have to be achieved. In this kind of scenario, it gets a little tricky looking at things the way you mention.

Nimmy said...

Hey Atul! I agree! It indeed is a tricky proposition and borders on an Utopian dream. The Stock Market is the supreme entity. Quarterly achievements are about all that matters. But maybe it is possible to enjoy the journey and do justice to it while having worthwhile milestones or destination points. Just that there needs to be a good balance and understanding of both the dimensions. Easier said than done!