Thursday, June 01, 2006

Some Issues with Traditional Knowledge Management Systems

A friend of mine shared a very interesting discussion in the knowledge managment team in his organization. It was on a situation that organizations typically face when a function in an organization is operating in a steady state and suddenly comes face to face with a change agent. Well not exactly sudden but something that did shake them a little and made them take account of. Presently at this organization, they have a so called conventional KM system. A Centralized KM database, various portals controlled by designated stakeholders and knowledge managers.
They have pretty matured processes in place but not closely integrated with the business to extent that they would like to see. On further discussion with my friend I found that the issue was that this kind of setup was actually working against the primary reason for which it was setup and that was for sharing of organizational knowledge. Well let's look at why this system is not working as it should be.
  • The control over sharing knowledge is restricted in the hands of so called business stakeholders, knowledge managers and users to an extent. What basically I felt was not right here was that any kind of control on knowledge sharing reduces the effectiveness of this process which as we all know requires the involvement of as many people as possible in an organization.
  • The above mode of knowledge sharing encouraged only the top-down sharing of knowledge, that is from the senior management to the employees. The need was to ensure a two way flow of information.
  • The existing mode of operations also made the knowledge sharing process in an organization dependent on the hands a few rather than get a overall involvement from the employees of the organization. Though the existing mode did ensure a level of responsbility on the owners but it also at the same time resulted in a kind of dependency on these people for knowledge in the organization.
  • The knowledge contribution from the employees in the form of artifacts was found to be not to the extent that was expected. Something was stopping or preventing the employees from sharing knowledge. The reasons were not very clear. Closer examination found that each employee maintained a close network by he/she used to fulfil his/her knowledge requirements. Using the KM system was found to be painful and more time consuming than contacting the network by email and asking for help.

Well having realized what the issues are, the team is presently looking for a way to revive the KM here. One development in the internet that kind of startled and at the same time excited the team was the success of the collaborative knowledge repositories - wikis and blogs. The team was faced with the question whether this model will work for internal use in an organization. Can this be more effective way of knowledge sharing not just in the internet but also in an organization with fixed domains of access and usage? The team is actively looking at examples were organizations were able to use this model. Will this be able to replace the existing system or will the combination of existing and new model be the right way to go ahead? Freely editable wikis model for knowledge sharing and restricted ownership and control offered by the old system for information that the management was control and distribute to the employees (like facts and figures generated in the organization, etc).


Post a Comment

<< Home

Locations of visitors to this page