Jun 8, 2005

OD and KM

I've been thinking over the last few days...that traditional approaches to KM have followed the two approaches that are doomed for failure. These are the

1. Expertise approach - The assumption being that people in the 'client' organization do not know anything and it's the expert's job to make them aware. The expert mostly does not do any implementation of his/her recommendations.

2. The pair of hands approach. The 'client' is aware of what needs to be done, but lacks the time or money or both to develop the necessary skills. This is the approach most often taken by IT consulting organizations, and this is the reason that while KM systems often come up they are rarely successful. That's because the 'client' is usually the top management and not the user of the system.

The OD consulting approach is a little about expertise and a little about skills, but these are focussed on the "how"s of a client. e.g. an OD approach to KM would involve delving into questions like:

1. Why do the people not share knowledge and vice versa?
2. What are the other organizational processes that have an effect on knowledge sharing like compensation plans, performance plans, succession plans?
3. How do the unsaid rules of the organization impact knowledge sharing.

Eventually every KM project is an attempt to change the corporate culture of the organization and the behavior of people in the organizational systems. This change can never be sustainable unless human and organizational processes change to support this change. That is the insight that traditional OD consulting brings to KM.

Maybe it's time more OD consultants started doing KM consulting, and more organizations looking at KM consulting started hiring a OD consultant.

Go here to know more about OD.