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Monday, March 31, 2008

Knowledge Management on the decline??

There has been an interesting article from the Harvard Law school that I saved last year and from time to time I re-read old articles to see if they are still relevant and it is. Looking at this article a year later the debate has moved on, though companies still believe that giant databases of information will solve their problems. Knowledge management to my mind is still predicated on people processes and technology as well as organisational culture and norms (back to Hawthorne). But a bit like the bible the most important of these are people and giving them the ability to connect and share information be it over a coffee, doing an after action review, sharing a story about how to deal with a client. It is allowing people to meet and make that primitive connection that encourages you to share that tacit knowledge. However if you are in a large organisation you can't always meet everyone and so the rise of social web 2.0 technology that I ramble about on supports the social sharing of information.

Here is the article from March 2007.

Knowledge Management on the Decline?: The law of diminishing returns is affecting those firms that invested heavily in giant IT databases - because a lot of that information is becoming available on line and it’s quality is steadily improving. It does beg a question as to say in 5 years time will in house precedents (or at least the vast majority of them) be as quaint as a buggy and whip.

Therefore firms will need to look at the way that people share knowledge if they wish to maintain a competitve advantage over their rivals.

Competitive advantage comes from possessing some attribute that is valuable, rare and not easily substituted - the tacit or people knowledge in a firm is that advantage not as previously perceived what is held in a database.

Another article highlights the rise of Generation Y lawyers who want to have their own internal blogs as a way of advertising their expertise to other people in the firm, so that they can undertake work on interesting projects.

Firms have noted a significant rise in the number of requests for blogs especially and even Microsoft has noticed - putting a blogging facility into Sharepoint 2007.

Also they want to have a say in developing more flexible taxonomies than the ones that they feel are foisted on them by IT departments that aren’t lawyers and don’t always bear reality to what and how they work.

Always remember, the technology is there to help people with their day to day work and that without the people getting involved - you end up with an expensive white elephant.

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