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Monday, April 29, 2002

Federal Government Worst at KM "by far".

Federal Computer World reports on a Gartner presentation to a bunch of federal KM "specialists." From the article:

Much of the problems seems to be that government workers don't understand what knowledge management is. "Knowledge management is a business process that has to be approached with discipline," [Gartner's French] Caldwell said. "It is not a technology. You can't buy it in a box."

Effective knowledge management requires extensive information sharing and collaboration. But government agencies and their employees are better known for guarding their knowledge and defending their turf than for sharing and cooperating.

... "Building a collaborative government is the issue." [Federal Computer Week, via]

I guess it's good to know the professional services firms aren't alone. But why should this be? It's not hard to recognize an individual's contribution, nor is it hard to align compensation with the desired behavior.

Here's my guess: collaboration reveals the weak links. The moment you participate in a truly collaborative endeavor, your contributions are obvious. People aren't afraid of not getting credit for their contributions - they're afraid of the lack of contributions becoming obvious.

[tins ::: Rick Klau's weblog] emphasis added

Certainly an interesting hypothesis to consider. It also raises the question of how hard it can be to assess contribution in the realm of knowledge work

[McGee's Musings]

While an interesting hypothesis, I'm not sure I buy the idea that people don't collaborate because it reveals the weakest links.  By that logic, the strongest links would collaborate and a sort of Prisoner's Dilemma would cause all to collaborate as much as possible:  even though I'd rather not collaborate and hold my knowledge to myself, that makes me appear to be a weak link and thus I'll share my knowledge to the extent possible.  The strongest links have the most to share and therefeore are very willing to share it because of the impression it leaves.  In fact, I would suggest it's this kind of rationale that has acted as the basis of incentives in environments where KM is successful.

8:58:28 PM    

Time as a KM issue:

If you're like me, you love to learn and love to absorb knowledge from other sources.  But where do you find the time?  I'm negotiating job offers right now and could use some lessons in negotations but I don't have the time to sit down and read another book or take another course - even though it may be an NPV positive investment. 

I think this is an issue within organizations as well.  Even though we may be more effective by using KM systems or seeking out knowledge, we often compete with impending deadlines and the risk of searching for knowledge for hours without being sure of the rewards it will payoff is more than we're willing to take on.  In a sense, even though the average return is positive, being risk-averse people we have a disutility for risk and thus do not invest the time to seek the necessary knowledge.  How do we overcome this natural human behaviour?

10:22:12 AM    

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