posted 4 Nov 2009 in Volume 13 Issue 2
Cora Newell sets the scene for a forthcoming series of articles showcasing the work of KM savvy, innovative organisations, which have ignored the usual preconceptions and dared to invest in pioneering KM strategy during these challenging times.
Although the first anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers has now passed, there are many who feel that the current, difficult economic climate will still be with us for some time to come.
Traditionally the realm of knowledge management (KM) has not fared well in periods of economic downturn. The temptation for businesses to focus on the bottom line often means that KM initiatives and professionals can be perceived as the icing on a shrinking cake and, as such, an expensive indulgence that has no place in leaner and meaner organisational structures. The endemic problem of measuring the business value of KM has contributed to such attitudes and a persistent scepticism as to its elusive benefits.
Yet these testing times are precisely those in which KM should, by rights, come into its own – streamlining business processes to secure optimum efficiencies and improvements and securing all available synergies. Now is the time for a reevaluation of the role that KM has to play in directly contributing to the success of relevant, underlying business. It is important for KM professionals to be seen at the forefront of these initiatives – up close and personal.
The objective of this series is to examine some of the measures taken by those firms and businesses brave enough to challenge the usual KM preconceptions in their pursuit of excellence. Although KM is a bespoke art that must be viewed in context, it is hoped that these examples will provide inspiration as well as insights into possible alternative approaches to dealing with commonplace problems.
There are some who equate KM with the acquisition and deployment of expensive technology. With many large-scale IT projects being shelved due to constrained budgets, ‘down and dirty’ or low-tech solutions are increasingly evolving to address individual organisation’s KM needs. The innovative ideas covered in this series will offer readers an interesting range along the technological continuum.
An article co-written by a fellow experienced KM practitioner and myself will appear in each issue, illustrating a different theme. My initial collaborators will be Mark Gould of Addleshaw Goddard, Dave Snowden of Cognitive Edge, and Sam Dimond of Clifford Chance. Early topics will include:
Inventive approaches to knowledge capture, including anecdote circles and other ideas that reflect not only on the particular business culture concerned, but with the fundamental nature of knowledge itself – not necessarily something which can be captured and stored in advance of need or context; and,
The deployment of social networking tools, such as wikis, to garner the global interchange of business information – and, ultimately, to replace traditional intranets.
I sincerely hope you will enjoy the series. The first article is due out in an upcoming issue of the magazine, so please do look out for it. Readers who wish to suggest other worthwhile examples of initiatives that fit the series’ theme should please get in touch.
Cora Newell is a solicitor with wide experience of City law firm practice and the founder of KM Insight Consulting, a consultancy which offers advisory and change management services to firms and companies wishing to develop their knowledge capabilities, information management and business efficiency. A regular speaker speaker at major KM and legal conferences, she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org