If you have been following my blog, you know that I have been crowd-sourcing comments for my KM book that will be published by the ABA in early 2014. Last week, I crowd-sourced comments about who leads KM in law firms. Thank you to those who commented (both on the blog and in emails directly to me). This week, it’s all about disappointment and failure.
I’m not talking about the various failures that we all have experienced in KM (or other) efforts in our careers. I’m talking about the failure of KM itself. As I noted last week, some may take the data I highlighted from the ILTA KM Surveys to mean that “KM is dead.” For those of us who believe that KM is alive and kicking, we know that some believe that KM has failed – or maybe just hasn’t lived up to its initial hype. Yet it persists.
One quite well-know commenter on the legal profession, Richard Susskind, points out in Chapter 2 of The End of Lawyers? that KM is an “apparent failure.” In addition to on-line deal rooms and “the use of auctions for the selection of legal advisers,” Susskind notes that “[a]nother disappointment in law firms, and indeed in most commercial organizations, has been in the field of knowledge management. It has promised much and delivered a good deal less.”
My initial reaction is that while his point is well taken, it is not knowledge management that has made any promises, but rather, it is the people who held out KM as one thing or another, promised results, and failed to deliver. Promising results from a discipline, like knowledge management, is like promising results from an idea. It is not the idea, but the execution of the idea, that generates results. Similarly, it is not KM, but how we implement the concepts and principles of KM that can greatly benefit law firms.
I have some other thoughts on the topic, as you might guess, but I would love to hear from you. Is knowledge management disappointing? Has it failed?
Please either leave a comment to this post, or email me directly (patrickdidomenico at gmail dot com) with your thoughts. My intention is to include your comments in my book (although I cannot guarantee inclusion, as I do have an editor). You can submit your comments anonymously, if you like. But I would like to give credit where credit is due. If you submit a comment and I use it in the book, I will cite you appropriately (unless you don’t want me to).