KM and BusinessPosted: February 18, 2010
A question which has been there for a lot of people for some time now. What should be the model for relationship between the KM function and the business teams. The approaches could vary from KM being a different function, to KM being a part of the business teams, and not being a separate function. And a lot of opinions which are somewhere between these. All of these viewpoints have their flip sides. So while KM being a separate function ensures that KM as a specialized field develops, while KM being a part of the business team ensures that the connect between operations and KM is maintained, and KM is seen as a part of the team, not something which comes from outside the team.
This is why i had run a poll some time back asking the question about what model you think is the appropriate one. You can access the results of the poll here. While one would expect that most people would believe that either KM should be a separate function, or KM should be a complete part of the business functions, the poll gives a different picture. Large number of the people who participated in the poll believe that KM as a function must be a mix of the standalone function model and the integral part of business team model. The interesting part about this is that this addresses both the things i pointed out.
Let me explain. One part of the KM team should be a standalone function. This ensures that KM specialization is maintained, and there is an endeavour to constantly keep in touch with the best practices, and the latest thought emerging from the world of KM, in addition to the KM team creating some form of thought leadership as a way to build value for the organization. This becomes a bit tricky if KM is an integral part of the business team. On the other hand, a standalone function is seen by business teams as something which comes from outside, and is treated the same way. This inhibits the engagement that KM can build with the business teams. The model that you have voted for says that one part of the KM team should actually be a part of the business team, so that they are considered a part of the business and not something which is pushed from the outside. This way, with a mixed mode, we can ensure both the KM function which can incorporate best practice into business processes in the organization, and KM being accepted easily by business teams because it is considered a part of business processes.