The traditional “home” for KM/knowledge services has been the corporate workplace, and while this is probably not the place to go into the reasons why (a future post, perhaps? or a guest post from a reader? a KM/knowledge services specialist?), we can quickly speculate that the for-profit field has often been the breeding ground for innovation.
And with accelerated innovation one of the four identified deliverables, you might say (along with strengthened research, contextual decision making, and high-level knowledge asset management) of knowledge services, it seems reasonable to latch on to the idea that the non-profits and the not-for-profit institutions have lagged behind.
Not so. Every day we hear about new venues for the study and implementation of KM/knowledge services, and a fascinating stream in this direction is higher education. Strategy development (ex-“strategic planning”) has long been a mainstay of academic administrative focus, and many companies and organizations specializing in knowledge strategy development have happily found a welcome on the campuses of some of the more forward-thinking universities.
For academics – whether part of the faculty, administrative staff, or having some other connection with the academy (university librarians, for example) – how might to KM/knowledge services be approached? Is it simply a matter of changing the words and phrases? When we define knowledge management with Prusak’s and Davenport’s working with knowledge for the organization do we make it work in the academy simply by defining knowledge management as working with knowledge for the institution?
And for that matter, is the management approach for an academic institution (OK – the administrative approach) the same as it is for a corporation? A research institute? A manufacturing plant? What are the differences? Are they subtle or are they major? Can an academic institution embrace Peter Drucker’s philosophy as willingly and as successfully as a for-profit operation (and, yes it can, for we all know of Drucker’s solid connection with the academy and his great success with charitable institutions and other non-profits)?
The question then becomes simply one of direction, doesn’t it? How can the principles and philosophies behind successful change management, say, in the KM/knowledge services environment be stated for an academic institution? What language do we use? And is that language going to work in other operational structures?
Let’s find out.