Nobody Puts Knowledge Management In The Corner

Sometimes comments just need to be made into their own postings. Such is the case with Ayelette Robinson's comment to my post earlier this week on my disappointment with the direction Knowledge Management has taken in law firms. Ayelette took my challenge of calling me an ignorant **** and telling me why my argument doesn't hold water.

There are others out there telling me I'm wrong – not as bluntly as Ayelette, of course – such as Mark Gould and Ken Adams.

[Guest Blogger – Ayelette Robinson]

Greg, you ignorant ****. Being sad about KM practitioners using new tools to implement old ideas is like being sad about the advent of the web because we used to sit by the radio to listen to the news. Preparing forms might have been an appropriate first step for KM, but the KM industry should not be limited to form maintenance any more than information distribution should be limited to the radio. Identifying, centralizing, and re-purposing knowledge is what KM is about, and that extends to all information needed for the business and practice of law: documents, clients, matters, finances, expertise, budgets, trainings, wins, losses, successes, failures, relationships, behaviors, memberships, projects, teams, overhead, tools, processes........

And KM is certainly not defined by its audience. If knowledge is being re-used to make a process more efficient, that's KM, whether it's an attorney at your firm re-using the knowledge or a client doing so.

Are there law firms who still perceive KM as only forms creation, or who misunderstand how librarians can help promote KM? I'm sure there are. But KM has grown far beyond its infancy, and we should be looking at the teenagers to get a sense of where we're going, not the toddlers.

As a side note, I noticed the various Ark tweets asking/suggesting/pondering whether PM should be/is/will be part of KM, and I have to admit I was confused by those. The boundaries between a variety of departments gets fuzzier every day (marketing, library, km, competitive intelligence), but PM and KM - while absolutely complementary - seem quite distinct: the former manages behavior, and the latter manages knowledge. Yes, there are moments when they dovetail, but their fundamental missions are fundamentally different.

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Mark Gould said...

A quick comment on Ayelette's side note. I think the key difference between KM and PM is surely that one is concerned with knowledge and the other with projects. In some way, all management is concerned with behaviour. It is just the context of the behaviour that changes.

Anonymous said...

PM = Project Management? or...

Greg Lambert said...

PM does equal "Project Management."

In the law firm world, though, you'll see
"LPM" a lot of the time. This normally stands for "Legal Project Management", but I've also seen LPM stand for "Law Practice Management." I've assumed these are synonymous terms, but I could be wrong.


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