KM pioneers Nick Milton and Stephanie Barnes have written this a practical guide for those who are thinking of developing a KM strategy, either for your own or client organisation. The guide covers a wide range of topics, from making a case for KM to measuring the ROI on pilot projects and everything in between. It comes with useful sensemaking tools, templates and real world examples to help you through the steps. You can download the Contents page and Introduction here.
What I like particularly about this book is the relentless reminder that the raison d’être of a KM strategy is to help our organisation achieve its business objectives. KM is not about managing information or telling stories or encouraging conversations but about increasing productivity or delivering innovation or outperforming competition. It is a means to an end, and that end better be worth something that will resonate with your senior management. Besides reminding you to stay on course, this book also shows you how to make that important connection between your KM and business strategy.
What I find myself most persuaded by is the rationale for choosing the right implementation strategy. All of the KM framework to all of the organisation? Some of the framework to some of the organisation? Or all of the framework to some of the organisation? The authors recommend the last, and their rationale is that all the enablers of a framework need to work together for your KM strategy to be effective, but you test it with a pilot project first. If you focus just on technology or process or people or governance, you won’t see the results you desire.
Some of you may find the range of topics and the amount of information overwhelming, especially if you are also thinking how to operationalise the steps as you’re reading the book. If you do feel overwhelmed, my recommendation is skip Chapter 12: Knowledge Management Technology. At 17 pages long or about 10% of the book, it goes a long way into a path that some of you may not find relevant. Return to this chapter when you need to be familiarised with the dizzying array of KM technology available. If you have management support for KM, you can skip Chapter 17: The Guerilla Strategy. It would be a pity if you could not get to the end of this book because of these chapters.
If there was a “do differently” about this book, for me it would be Chapter 11: Information and Content Management. The authors appear to equate information architecture with taxonomy and metadata. This is not the full picture. Information Architects incorporate taxonomies into their design of IT systems and use metadata to power parts of their designs. Apart from taxonomy and metadata they also factor other concepts into their designs, such as internal communications and social collaboration. Thus, I’d say that information architecture is enhanced by – but not equal to – taxonomy and metadata. But this very minor “do differently” by no means detracts from the usefulness of the book.
To conclude, if you want to increase your chances of success in designing a viable KM strategy, read this book.
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