August 20, 2008

KM 2.0: Working Smarter

Dave Pollard has published a thought-provoking post on what's next in knowledge management entitled Working Smarter. In it he describes the core competencies (requiring Skills, Tools and Processes) that knowledge workers are going to need in the 21st century:

1. Personal Content Management (in lieu of large, centralized repositories)
2. Simple Virtual Presence and Enabling Conversations (to facilitate interaction in CoPs)
3. Environmental Scanning and Sensemaking (adding meaning, sense and value to information)
4. Professional Research Capacity and Risk/Opportunity Assessment (going beyond search)
5. Just-In-Time Canvassing (getting approximately right answers in real time)
6. Story Crafting, Story Telling, Story Collecting and Story Recording (conveying information in context)

Pollard goes on to say:
I see the role of Knowledge Management and of Information Professionals in the 21st century as facilitating the development of these skills and introduction of these processes and tools in their organizations. I'm not sure what we call it. Probably not KM. I've referred to it as Personal Knowledge Management (PKM), Work Effectiveness Improvement, Personal Productivity Improvement (PPI) but none of these accurately encompasses the six enabling roles above. Maybe we should call it Working Smarter, and staff it with a cross-functional project team with a five year mandate to measurably improve these six capacities in organizations.
Based on what I've heard from colleagues in other law firms, most firms have not yet invested in all these areas in a systematic way. Most law firms don't have cross-functional project teams addressing these issues and we aren't collecting the metrics required to assess improvement in these core competencies. Are law firms so different from other organizations that we don't have to bother with these core competencies or are we just slow starters? Given the lure of working smarter, it's surprising that law firm knowledge management hasn't been at the vanguard of KM 2.0.

2 comments:

Samuel Driessen said...

Thanks for the pointer! Yeah, the law firm world is strange... ;-) Seriously, lawyers have been modern workers for a long time, but without the modern workplace and tools. Lawyers have always been mobile for instance. But I don't no many lawyers truly working mobile or from home for instance. Is information security one of the reasons?

Mary Abraham said...

Samuel -

Given technological advances, I'm not sure that information security is the main issue anymore. We've come a long way since the days of having to separately encrypt e-mail attachments.

From what I've heard, one of the key issues is that too many law firms have failed to consider -- as a business and policy matter -- the benefits to be gained from truly exploiting available technology (such as web 2.0 tools) as opposed to merely tolerating or barely using them. Using a non-web 2.0 example of this tendency, while most lawyers use e-mail, how many law firms do you know that actually exploit the full functionality of Outlook and its foldering, searching and calendaring functions? For far too many lawyers, Outlook is merely a means of electronic communication. They treat it as a small step up from the telephone and telegraph.

With respect to telecommuting, I suspect that the real hurdle lies in cultural expectations of face time rather than in technological impediments.

We need a change in mindset and approach -- not just new tools.

- Mary