KM as Ideology

KM initiatives have come and gone everywhere I’ve worked or consulted. One failure mode has stood our consistently: taking a single-threaded approach; i.e., focusing on promoting a tool and its usage, or building communities, or creating a central KM function that drives compliance.

In fact, many KM leaders come across as if they’re on a crusade or leading a cultural revolution. Users must be made to use the tool, join communities, dedicate headcount to a local KMO. Other mental models — e.g., that KM needs process, that KM must focus on outcomes — just don’t seem to fit. They’re blind to the brittleness of such ideological campaigns (and if you point them out, you only show your revanchist tendencies).

My take is that these blind spots stem from the background of many KM practitioners — academia or education. They come to the problem with theories and gurus, but very little in the way of a body of knowledge. Where is the KM equivalent of the PMBOK Guide? For all its limitations, at least PMBOK gives PMs a common lexicon. Half of my conversations with KM folks is spent lost in translation between business and KM-speak.


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