With a slight nod to the last post at this site (e-Discovery: The Next Success Story for Knowledge Strategists?) and a hope for moving forward with some good progress with KM, knowledge services, and knowledge strategy in the new year, we take a look at a pair of recent news stories.
On January 7, The New York Times had a story by Ben Protess and Michael J. De La Merced that caught my eye (“Rescued by Bailout, A.I.G. May Sue Its Savior”). Apparently some folks were threatening to sue the U.S. Federal government (the next day’s paper reported that A.I.G. would not participate in the suit).
What startled me was a statement in the description of the planning for the case:
The presentations on Wednesday come on top of hundreds of pages of submissions that the government prepared last year, a time-consuming and costly process. The Justice Department, which assigned about a dozen lawyers to the case and hired outside experts, told a judge handling the matter that [the company behind the suit] was seeking 16 million pages in documents from the government.
“How many?” the startled judge, Thomas C. Wheeler, asked, according to a transcript.
So I got to thinking about how we got to this point. Even 20 years ago, John Naisbitt and Patricia Aburdene, in Megatrends, made it clear that things were about to get out of hand. Here’s what Naisbitt said in his much-quoted comment: “We are drowning in information and starved for knowledge.”
Trying to put things in context, I went to friend Anne Kershaw, Co-Founder of the e-Discovery Institute, with whom I teach in Columbia’s M.S. in Information and Knowledge Strategy (IKnS) program.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“Oh, the stories I could tell you,” Anne said. “The really sad part is that the only reason it’s 16 million pages is because the lawyers likely don’t know what they are doing and are not asking the right questions, i.e., a knowledge audit. Truly, IKnS is the answer to the e-discovery problem.”
Then along comes the January 5, 2013 issue of The Economist.
Lead story? Of course, it’s all about finding out what the business needs to know, under the general heading of Corporate Intelligence: “The Bloodhounds of Capitalism: It’s a Good Time to be a Corporate Investigator.”
Good story-telling. Same topic, different angle, and this one also fits into what we’re talking about. The focus is on the detectives, but you can see the theme: “Corporate detectives sniff out the facts, analyze them, share them with clients … a multi-billion-dollar industry devoted to discovering the truth.”
Here’s the quote from this story:
There is plenty of work to go round. Assignments linked to mergers and acquisitions have dwindled along with the number of deals, but other areas are expanding. One big source of work is the growing complexity of business regulation. Multinationals can never be sure that some employee, somewhere has not violated America’s Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or some other anti-bribery law. Corporate compliance departments often bring gumshoes in to assist their own investigations.
Kershaw refers to IKnS, using the popular acronym we’re all using these days to refer to information and knowledge strategy, the emerging management methodology that builds on using KM and knowledge services to help a company work with its captured (and perhaps, in this case, to-be-captured) intellectual capital.
I continue to be impressed with how much work is going on with knowledge development and knowledge sharing – what we like to call “KD/KS” – and how much is yet to be done. IKnS is – truly – the solution to what we’re dealing with these days as companies attempt to manage their corporate intellectual assets. For many of us, it’s with IKnS that we are able to contextualize stories like the ones I’m sharing with you here.
And when I say “contextualize” this is what I mean: Who in the company has developed a strategy for dealing with all this information and knowledge? Who is in charge? Who is identifying what needs to be kept and what doesn’t need to be kept? Who has responsibility for making decisions about disposing of what isn’t – or won’t be – needed?
Let’s keep going. It’s a new year and as these stories demonstrate (just two among so many we can’t count them), there’s a good case to be made for IKnS. And there’s a big market out there waiting for us. There is plenty of work to go round.