Thursday, December 07, 2006

Knowledge management waves the white flag

The December Harvard Business Review runs a brief piece on knowledge management titled What’s Your Return on Knowledge?

KM once promised gargantuan cost savings and enormous gains in productivity. The kind of thing that corporations are good at measuring. But now, the bloom is off the rose and the KMers do not like those hard numbers that determine the ROI of their panacea.

Leaders of the knowledge-based organizations that have the most vibrant KM programs approach the measurement problem by accepting soft indicators that knowledge management is earning its keep rather than demanding hard numbers that may be misleading. They do insist that the programs be evaluated, but they accept anecdotes about successful (or failed) knowledge reuse, stories of productive (or unproductive) collaborative projects, and surveys of employee and customer satisfaction as the best indicators of value.
Program evaluation by anecdote. At the same time consultants are scrutinizing marketing programs in great detail with hard numbers, their brethern want their pet internal projects to get by with soft metrics.

One more example of the problem noted in #8 below.

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