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Knowledge Management Transplant

June 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Nick Milton over at Knocco Stories have a great post about The problem with the Viral model for KM.

A few months ago I wrote about the same topic but from a different point a few Do you work in a sticky organisation? after seeing Victor Newman at the Henly KM Conference.  I really like Nick’s views on this and I will see if I can use it in my work.

Nick says “I had a nasty virus a couple of weeks ago. I caught it from my wife, who had brought it back from New York. For about a week I hd no voice, and was awake all night coughing. But with the help of Lemsip and Strepsils, I fought it off after a while, and am now back to normal.

The problem with the viral introduction of knowledge management, is that most organisations have very good immune systems. They are very good at overcoming and rejecting new ideas, and generally fight them off after a while. As a body overcomes and destroys an infection, so the habits, routines, dogmas, and “not invented here”s can overcome and destroy even the best innovation. This explains why so many KM initiatives start well, flare up like a fever, then 6 months later have disappeared completely, and the company is “back to normal”. (see also Victor Newman’s post about Sticky organisations where by Sticky he means Resistant to change.)

We need a way of reducing the barriers, of reducing the rejection rate, of making KM more like a transplant to be incorporated, than an infection to be fought. That’s where management need to be involved. They need to welcome the initiative, and to dampen down the resistance. The immune system needs to be suppressed long enough for KM to become embedded into the fabric of an organisation like a transplant is assimilated into the body.

Think Transplant, not Virus.”

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