KM and people (and culture)

Knowledge2I recently explored the interaction of KM and technology. Perhaps that was immature without exploring the interaction of KM and people first. Or perhaps that is also a misstatement – technology and people in the KM context are intricately intertwined.

The best KM technology will be useless without people contributing their existing knowledge and using the technology to create and develop new knowledge. Conversely, technology merely provides a platform for the collation and distribution of existing knowledge and for the collaboration that creates and develops new knowledge.

People are the heart and soul of any KM system and a KM system is only as good and useful as the information/knowledge it contains/creates and that can only be done by people, not technology.

The prevailing culture also plays a significant role as it will influence the behaviour of the people who make up the organisation. In order to build and maintain a functional KM system it is imperative that the culture of the organisation support the sharing of information and the collaboration of employees across departments and offices without artificial obstacles.

However, even organisations that believe that they have a culture that supports sharing and collaboration would often be surprised what an outsider sees without the effects of cultural myopia that prevails to some extent in most organisations. Competing teams, imperatives and reward systems may in reality stifle the ‘culture’ of sharing and interaction but these subtle interactions are often missed by those permeated by organisational cultural myopia.

If your KM system is not operating as well as expected, despite your spending on technology, it may be time for a close, unbiased and independent review of your organisational culture and the true nature of the interaction of your people.

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