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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Revisiting a classic

When I studied knowledge management I was handed probably one of the classic articles on Knowledge Management written in 1998 by Larry Prusak and Liam Fahey.

It has recently been republished by Stan Garfield but for those managers who haven't read the article here are the 11 deadly sins with regard to the practice of knowledge management especially in US and from my own experience in UK firms.

  1. Not developing a working definition of knowledge
  2. Emphasizing knowledge stock to the detriment of knowledge flow
  3. Viewing knowledge as existing predominantly outside of the heads of individuals
  4. Not understanding that a fundamental intermediate purpose of managing knowledge is to create shared context
  5. Paying little heed to the role and importance of tacit knowledge
  6. Disentangling knowledge from its uses
  7. Downplaying thinking and reasoning
  8. Focusing on the past and the present and not the future
  9. Failing to recognize the importance of experimentation
  10. Substituting technological contact for human interface
  11. Seeking to develop direct measures of knowledge
Stan had the idea of approaching Larry Prusak and ask for his comments as to how this article had stood the test of time and where the deadly sins still applicable - ie had KM moved on.

I agree with Prusak that we have made some progress but still a lot of firms do for example still see KM as having a large IT database which acts as a repository for documents or as I call it the large bucket approach with the hope of finding the odd gold nugget in it. But organisations have made slow progress on the people side of the equation.

In my next blog I'll be listing some of Prusak's comments and be putting my own observations on it. Also I've been reading tonight an article from Gunther Stahl from INSEAD on talent management as this is a theme that I've been commenting on recently and I think that managers will find them of interest.

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