Let’s not kid ourselves. When it comes to KM/knowledge services, there is definitely a great deal of ignorance out there.
And coming up with a feasible “work around” (to use the popular IT term) is pretty much part of the picture in most companies.
Sure, we all lament the costs, costs that are usually very, very high when both time and labor are figured into the solution. But we take a deep breath and try to move on.
Most of the time.
Now, though, with the current situation with foreclosures in the United States, we all seem to be a little surprised by the enormity of the crisis.
How did it happen? Wasn’t anyone watching? How could ignorance at this level not have been noticed?
My response to these questions goes back to what we in KM/knowledge services focus on all the time:
If we are going to frame corporate knowledge strategy so the organization benefits from how KM and knowledge services are implemented, we must recognize that it’s not just information management, or knowledge management, or strategic learning that makes knowledge strategy work. It’s the combination of the three into knowledge services. And in this situation, it is the last – the strategic learning – that got left by the wayside when the whole housing bubble burst. Even as long ago as 2007 (perhaps earlier for all I know), the banking industry should have been dealing with strategic learning, to ensure that handling all the paperwork – and particularly the foreclosures – had a structure and a process that would work.
The point is made in Bankers Ignored Signs of Trouble on Foreclosures, by Eric Dash and Nelson D. Schwartz, published in today’s New York Times. Here’s a quote:
“Banks spent billions of dollars in the good times to build vast mortgage machines that made new loans, bundled them into securities and sold those investments worldwide. Lowly servicing became an afterthought. Even after the housing bubble began to burst, many of these operations languished with inadequate staffing and outmoded technology, despite warnings from regulators.
“When borrowers began to default in droves, banks found themselves in a never-ending game of catch-up, unable to devote enough manpower to modify, or ease the terms of, loans to millions of customers on the verge of losing their homes. Now banks are ill-equipped to deal the foreclosure process.”
And this, a quote within a quote:
“‘Investment in people, training, and technology — all that costs them a lot of money, and they have no incentive to staff up,’ said Taj Bindra, who oversaw Washington Mutual’s large mortgage servicing unit from 2004 to 2006.”
And Bindra’s wording could almost be another definition of KM/knowledge services, couldn’t it?
So it all adds up to a pretty messy picture.
What’s the solution? How can companies fix things so such situations don’t happen again?
You know the answer: Company leaders (including both middle- and senior-management) somehow have to “get” the message that strategic learning must be part of the process of management. Strategic learning is not a complicated concept – it’s nothing more than ensuring that staff have the resources to learn what they need to learn to work better and, of course, to work smarter. If strategic learning resources are not provided and if people who have not been provided with the strategic learning they need to do their work, disaster is not just a possibility. It’s a probability, one that no amount of “work around” can fix.