Sunday, August 03, 2003

Who are we trying to convince?
Not so long ago I attended a seminar that included a panel discussion with some of the big names in KM. Inevitably, somebody in the audience asked "How do I convince management to do KM?". I hear this all the time and people never seem very satisfied with the answer, which usually says something like "make sure its linked to your business's strategy" (they might as well say "make sure its really convincing"). Some speakers then go on to add "...and make sure you don't call it KM".

Here's my hunch and it comes in two parts (like a camel's)
1) It's true that many companies, particularly the ones that had early KM success didn't call it KM, becasue it didn't have a label. And it wasn't done by KM people, because they didn't exist either. Often the old hands look baffled as to why these people are trying to do something unrelated to strategic priorities, and they get baffled looks back from people who feel they're stating the damn obvious and missing the point.

2) A fun thing to do at a KM Conference (not a phrase you'll hear often) is ask people how they got into the field. I've only met one person who said "I studied for it". So nearly all of us are enthusiastic amateurs - "professionaly hobbyists" is how I once heard it put. We're all trying to move away from a job we didn't like into something much more interesting - more interesting because it often involves dablling with things that used to be the domain of more senior people (take it from me, I used to be a janitor ;-)

Put it together and what have you got? People trying to take over "management's job" of launching initiatives by inventing a new profession. So I have to ask myself, is my question "how do I convince management to do KM" or "how do I convince management to let me join in the game?"

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