Can you miss bits out from a KM Framework?

Does a KM Framework need to be complete, or can you miss components out?

I'm What's Missing
I’m What’s Missing by crdotx, on Flickr

A Knowledge Management Framework consists of four elements:

  • Roles
  • Processes
  • Technology
  • Governance

I blogged last week about partial implementations of a Knowledge Management Framework when I asked whether there were circumstances where you didn’t need any KM technology.  My answer was yes, in a small number of cases you might introduce a technology-free framework, which could look rather like Action Learning sets.

What about the other parts of the Knowledge Management Framework? What happens if they are missing? Can KM still function?

Can you do KM without any roles?

This one I find harder to imagine. Even in a small team, learning for and by themselves, someone has to facilitate the AARs, for example. However you could have a team where everyone takes accountability for sharing and learning, where everyone edits the knowledge base, and where roles such as facilitator and scribe are rotated. Here the responsibilities are still assigned, but there are no full time roles. So yes, you can do away with full-time role, but there still need to be roles.

Can you do KM without any processes?

The majority of effective KM processes, such as Peer Assist, AAR, Retrospect, are really structured dialogue, so if your dialogue works well, and you naturally discuss issues such as root cause, then you could effectively deconstruct the KM processes and replace them with good dialogue. Again, this is only likely to happen in a small group who know each other well, and have developed good dialogue habits.

Can you do KM with no governance? No expectations, no checking and reinforcement, no support?

Most of the KM efforts we have seen with no governance, do not last long. However, again, it is possible to imagine a group with self-governance – a group that has set their own expectations (“lets make sure we do an AAR after each day”), who reinforce these (“hey guys, we still haven’t done our AAR yet”), and who train the newcomers (“Susie, let me walk you through the idea behind the AAR”). It’s still governance, but self-governance.

So the answer is that yes, it is possible to run KM with common accountabilities, rotating roles, deconstructed process and self-governance, but only in a small group.

Once the group becomes larger, such as a CoP, or once you require knowledge sharing between multiple groups, then roles are assigned, ground-rules established, charters written, and the gaps in the framework need to be filled in.
Contact us if you need to fill in any elements in your Framework

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Shared by: Nick Milton