A few highlights:
"In the mid-1990s, the concept of Business Process Re-engineering (BPR) was promoted by Michael Hammer and James Champy in their popular work,
"Although not necessarily intended by Hammer and Champy, BPR was the justification by which senior management initiated massive rounds of layoffs under the banner of 'downsizing'."
" It is interesting to note the reaction that the BPR management cliche caused when it was extended beyond anything that could be considered reasonable. The resulting loss of the collective experience and know-how directly led to the mirror-image management cliche known as Knowledge Management."
--> a lightbulb goes off in my head at this point. Is this why KM has felt so familiar, it is just a repackaging of concepts already in existence, and not just in the library world? It is a challenge to separate the wheat from the chaff i.e. the useful concepts from the buzzwords. It is just a reaction to trying to capture all the lost knowledge from employees who were let go in the "downsizing" and the "rightsizing" of the 90s. Organizations must take care not to take this to the other extreme, obsessively following KM while ignoring real problems that exist in the organization. There is no point in pursuing KM unless there are components that will actually help achieve or resolve something specific within the organization. What one organization impliments successfully will not necessarily work for another organization.
"This predilection for rushing to deploy 'best practices' is perhaps one of the more potentially dangerous management cliches of recent years.
"A corporation faces with complex problems and market challenges seeks to remedy those problems quickly, so as not to fall further behind its peers. It looks at other companies in the same industry or field of endeavour and attempts to determine which of their management processes significantly contribute to their apparent success. Once identified, these processes, or rather, an abstraction of these processes, is adopted in the hope that their magical effect will attract analogous success to the challenged company.
"Of course, there is no magic -- no practice can be best for every company in any arbitrary situation. So how does the trick work? Successful companies, which those in trouble seek to emulate, generally possess the attribute of shared, insightful, original thinking among their managers and executives, and often through the ranks of their key employees. They identify challenges and carefully contemplate the particular circumstances and environment before the determining a course of action. Often, the first solution is not successful and the process repeats. Eventually, a way out of the mire is discovered and the company progresses.
"The resulting success attains almost mythic proportions, especially if the company is sufficiently prominent. In the retelling, the story is abridged and perhaps embellished for dramatic effect in a case study presented at a conference or in an article in the business press. It then enters the management concordance as an industry best practice."
(pages 51 and 52)
--> Of course, no two organizations are the same. One needs to look carefully at the circumstances surrounding the success and not just apply the solution to another organization without thought. As I said earlier, don't just do something 'cause the cool organizations are doing it.
All of this reading has made me wonder....who originated the concept of knowledge management, and who coined the phrase?
(McLuhan for Managers seems to be unavailable at Indigo. I was able to find it recently at local Toronto chain Book City)