The second Keynote speaker at this conference was Patrick Lambe, president of iKMS in Singapore.
He addressed the need of the knowledge management as a discipline to mature as a practice. To demonstrate what he means, he spent a good amount of time defining the terms and how they work in other disciplines, and how they do not work within knowledge management.
Starting with performance, he defined it in two ways, first around operational performance, second around strategic performance. Operational performance deals with consistency, coordination, compliance and cost management. Strategic performance is around intelligence, innovation and capacity building. In each case, he challenged knowledge managers to tie their work back to their companies operational and strategic performance. In real ways, not soft targets.
He explored professionalism through three questions: Is there a coherent practice community? Is there a professional ethic? Is there a reference standard? Comparing knowledge management to medicine, he placed our practice in the middle ages, when doctors never looked at a human body. They had no coherent practice, no reference standard. He then talked to a survey iKMS completed of knowledge managers, showing that on average people spend less than 2 years in the role, are offered no education and seldom come into the role with education in knowledge management. These underscore the lack of true professionalism in knowledge management as a discipline.
When talking to accountability, he stated that it is inconceivable that a knowledge manager would be held accountable for their failures. The excuse that KM is too complex to measure, or that we are infrastructure, not front line are just that excuses.
We need to be accountable for our work.
We need to build a history of experience, with repeatable actions and situations, and incorporate feedback loops for learning.
We suffer from something he called the " teleportation syndrome". People come in, then leave. They become knowledge managers without experience, without training and are asked to go ahead and get on with it. By the time they learn the job, start to see results from their first changes, they move on to a new environment or a new role.
Building performance requires:
- scrutiny of failures
- sensitivity to the detail
- observability of practice
- observability of outcomes
- a focus on the outcome
- and rewarding based on performance.
Not performance on measures like through put, number of items submitted, and other KM process based measures. Instead, performance based on KM's ability to impact the business.
Building professionalism requires:
- developing ongoing relationships with other KM professionals
To mature knowledge management we need to:
- Foster career stability and progression
- Accelerate the study of the practice via the community
- Incentives for peer learning and peer review
- Disincentives for theory driven research
- Recognize the neighboring practices and disciplines
- Agree and set standards for knowledge management