Great conference today. In the morning, keynotes from Graham Higgins, Manager of Organisational Development and Learning, Cathay Pacific and Tony Sheehan Director of Learning Services, Ashridge Business School… great presentations.
In the afternoon a knowledge cafe with 14 KM practitioners from different companies showing and sharing their projects and experience. Awesome. Lots of opportunity to talk to other practitioners. Not like a normal conference – much better.
I drank far too much coffee at the conference, so before the caffeine buzz subsides…
One thing that made me cheer (on the inside) is that in every conversation I had, there was someone saying that Knowledge Management is a term that should not be used outside of the KM community. And this time it wasn’t just me saying it. O.O
In other words, don’t mention KM when talking to rank and file staff. One reason is that it’s unnecessary jargon that requires layers of workshops and communication to ‘get the KM message across’. But the main reason is that most staff will think that ‘KM’ equals ‘more work’. Many times I’ve heard “so now you expect me to do KM in addition to my usual job?”.
Over the past 4 years I’ve explained this particular problem to management, who’ve nodded sagely. We commissioned a report which found the same issues raised in staff interviews. Message loud and clear, but somehow always sidelined. I suggested that we try ‘Ninja KM’ or ‘KM by stealth’, but nobody was listening (or they didn’t get it). So now I’m delighted, because now I can say that I’m not alone when I recommend to others something along the lines of: “Think ‘KM’, but say ‘problem solving’ (better still use terms which talk directly to your audience’s context)”.
Instead of saying ‘Knowledge Management’, try ‘resource management’, ‘risk management’, ‘asset management’… or whatever makes immediate sense to whoever you’re talking to.
[edit: James Robertson owes credit for being the first to articulate this idea, here's his post in Column Two that made me slap my forehead and go 'yes, that's it'. It's from 2004, so it's not a new idea at all. It's funny how ideas take a while catch on and hit a tipping point like this one did today.]