Debating disastrous KM experiences

I’ve commented a couple of times on posts by Paula Thornton in the FAST Forward blog, so it was great to see her drop by the ChiefTech blog to challenge me a little on my own thinking about the success of knowledge management (KM). Paula asks:

Have you had to ‘live’ inside of any organization that had a KM effort/group? Mine have all been disastrous experiences. Read: A total waste of corporate dollars, for the implementation and the negative impact on productivity.

Firstly, I haven’t just consulted to organisations about information and knowledge management, but worked as employee in government and professional services areas in information/knowledge management roles (my experiences at Ernst & Young are well documented). Unlike Paula, my experiences were mostly positive and the successes have helped to shape my thinking of what knowledge management is really about, the role of information technology and how it can contribute to an organisation and the people who work in them (productivity being just one dimension of the contribution it can make).

Its hard to comment further because the devil is in the detail… so some probing questions to Paula (and anyone else with a bad experience of KM):

  • What made your experience disastrous?
  • Why was so much money spent on your KM initiative, and on what aspects?
  • Why did it have an negative impact on productivity? Was productivity one of the measures of such? Was it the only measure?
  • What specific business problem or strategy did it try to support (if any)?

And in the spirit of Voltaire, its great to have some different views on this topic! So let the real Enterprise 2.0 debate begin… tell me what you really think (I would also love to see any relevant links to interesting blogs posts about the future of KM and the relationship between KM and Enterprise 2.0).

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