Monday, March 16, 2009

Discovering KM....The Journey matters more than the Destination!

I think I love being questioned (by someone who is eager to learn or someone who seeks a sincere debate in order to get to the truth or someone who is serious about understanding other perspectives). More often than not, a good question and the way in which it is posed awakens my mind and urges me to seek the answer(s) within....much more sincerely than otherwise. It becomes an obligation of sorts.

So, this morning, I found a fundamental question staring me in the face and it was, luckily, one of those occasions when my mind responded and the answer (or is it 'my' answer?) just flowed. I'd love to know what other KMers who happen to read this think....!

Question on the KM-India Community:

Why we still "discovering" the answer for what is KM and what it can do?

1. Why we could not get the grip on KM to institutionalize KM in the organization - that makes it difficult (and unnecessary) to pull the plug on KM.

2. Why it is difficult to convince the top [management] even today?

3. Why we are still fighting what is knowledge and what is not?

Like I mentioned, my answer just flowed...which probably means it was simply a knee-jerk 'reaction'. So, I don't think I've answered the question word-to-word. There is still a lot left unanswered. I'll come back to this post and add anything else that may be relevant once the discussion on the community progresses and other perspectives begin to trickle in.

Here was my knee-jerk reaction to the question(s):

I may be wrong (on second thoughts, I don't think I am wrong :-D)...but something tells me that this is the case in every field. Things keep evolving. New people bring new ideas...thoughts and perceptions change...debates ensue. Product vendors fight their own battle and introduce their own ideas. Academics try and influence people with their own approaches and theories. The more abstract the field the more such upheavals and changes. It probably takes a decade or so for people to arrive at a common understanding and have the 'basics' in place. But no subject worth its salt will remain unchanged for concepts, theories, technologies, and objectives will obviously force us to re-examine our understanding of what is appropriate (as opposed to right and wrong).

Having said that, I am inclined to believe that KM has now reached a stage wherein there is a significantly 'common' understanding of what it is all about....but how we articulate it may differ and what dimension of it we focus on may depend on the context and situation we are in.

PS: I have no clue what the trend is in terms of the time that subjects take to evolve into a stage where the foundation is extremely strong....maybe it does not really take as long as a decade for subjects that aren't so abstract?!


Yayaver said...

Basic problem in KM is sharing of tacit knowldge with co workers.The sense of insecuriy about the job is driving people to hide information for personal use.The competition is overtaking the co operation part in a organization.
1-I do no know answer.
2-Top management guys are mostly visionary but sometimes completely unknown of grass root realities of implementation result.Hence ,it is very hard to convince them of good ideas which are having different views with their thinking.
3-We are not fighting for definition of knowledge but for the part of knowledge which are commercially benfeitable to organization.We want to measure investment of resources in knowledge without having deep insight of KM.Most of the time ,managers go for short term profits than long term investment.Hence,we always find different voices over vision and standard of knowledge databank.

Nick Milton said...

I don't know why it's so hard to agree on a definition. I though we had it pretty well tied down in the late 90s.

Part of the problem is that the term became a buzz word, and was co-opted by all sorts of people in order to sell information management, records management, and data management. There is still a lot of confused fallout from this (see

Also part of the problem is that with a confused market, it can be easier to sell services. "Knowledge Management? Sure we can help - just buy this software and all will be fixed". Although knowledge management is much much more than a "technology fix", it might be difficult to get a diverse community, many of who are selling software, to agree on a definition which makse software-selling less attractive as a solution.

My favourite definition is here


Nimmy said...

Thanks a lot for the comments, Yayver and Nick! Wonderful thoughts and interpretations from both of you!

Yayaver: The minute we realize that we are better respected and get to learn a lot more only when we share, the insecurity will vanish!

Nick: I agree with you. We've definitely reached a stage where we ought not to be confused any KM vendors notwithstanding! Will look up the links in a while!! :-) Thanks once again for leaving a comment!

Atul said...

I agree with your thought that definitions keep changing. Look at the way ERP evolved through the 90s. Or CRM for that matter. what makes KM rather peculiar is that there is no definition of Knowledge which people agree upon, so the question of defining KM is going to nebulous. I think this is actually nice.

Nimmy said...

I think you're right of the reasons why there are so many flavours of KM can be traced back to the definition of knowledge per se! Good point!