Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Invisible KM

Hugh McKeller, editor of KM World just did an interesting article titled, "Invisible KM." The conclusion of the article was that "KM programs should be invisible." I totally agree and this follows on a conversation I had with a co-worker yesterday. She was reading a KM article and pointed out some of the things we should be doing. I politely pointed out that we had been doing those things, however, we purposely didn't call them KM activities.

Here's my logic - In the early 1990's our organization implemented total quality management (TQM) with a whole lost of fanfare. Staff were assigned to work on "TQM activities." After time, if you asked for a definition of TQM, you would have received a whole range of answers. What became obvious was that individual's definitions revolved around the aspect of TQM that had a personal connection to them. Eventually folks started pulling in different directions, the initiative faltered, and TQM became a dirty word.

In 1994, I began working on the Research Applications Program. I watched the same thing happen to the word "applications." The activities that were most successful were those under the radar of applications. For example, when we changed the research process, the concept was directed by research project managers. Application had a large role in the change, but only management recognized it's role. To staff it was a research driven process.

In our organization today, the word KM is hardly used, however, the concepts of KM are being incorporated by the organization. To accomplish this my role becomes developing the strategy and then getting individuals or teams to take ownership. Rarely do I just conceptualize, design, and launch an idea myself. Getting this "buy-in" gets tiring and is often frustrating, but in the end produces a working product for the organization. Also it's very important that the team gets the credit for the outcome.

A word of caution --Making the KM role invisible best serves the organization, but may not be the best career move. I need to spend a lot of effort making sure that management recognizes what I'm doing. However, most staff don't recognize my role in the initiatives. I haven't built an empire but work on the philosophy "when my message becomes someone else's message, I've succeeded." Another way to state this is "organization building rather than program building."


At 5:59 AM, Blogger Weedy said...

Wow - you're blog is full of good info. It's getting hard to find blogs with useful content and people talking about Quality Management these days. I have just started my Latest Quality Management News blog and would really appreciate you coming by - thanks again


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