Dec 20, 2006

Knowledge Management Consulting

Today we had a first meeting with a client who's looking at setting up a Knowledge Management initiative as well as an e-Learning infrastructure.

In our meeting I told the that philosophically the approaches are quite different. While organizations approach KM with an extractive mindset ("Let's get a hold of what our people know"), e-Learning is the opposite ("Let's spend huge money, set up an LMS, develop some content, buy some SCORM compliant content, and hope our people learn" :-)

Like most KM initiatives this one too attempts to do a lot of things.

My advice to them was to break down the goal into smaller chunks.

Most of a time the larger, altruistic goal of helping people share knowledge is the 80% of the effort that makes around 20% of the impact. Instead, I told them, a really smart KM solution would need to solve critical business issues. That would be the 20% effort that impacts 80% of the business.

Such an approach would get business on the side of the KM initiative - otherwise KM people are doomed into what Dave Pollard calls "The Organizational Ghetto".

What seems interesting about this project, if it comes through, is that it is an attempt at KM by an Indian firm which is totally an 'old-economy' company. A long term project, priced on a retainer basis - that's what will make it different too, for me as a consultant.

The meeting had one of the moments that really made me happy. The CIO whom we met asked "So how can you help us?" after we had talked about the challenges of KM and my previous experience and learning trying to implement KM within a firm. We told them that we were not IT consultants, but our specialty is rather to explore possibilities and ask questions. I was consciously trying not to use jargon in trying to explain how we could be useful.

"Ah. You are process consultants", he said.

I love it when the client uses the jargon that we were trying to avoid.