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December 14, 2006

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Scott Quick

Hi Mike,

I am an investor in a small startup - Attensa.

Your post is a must read for all those Web 2.0 companies hoping to succeed in the enterprise market. Having spent a good deal of my career in this space, you have correctly characterized the the relationship between the 'Organizational Development' challenges and Technology... and where the true challenges for successful implementation and adoption lie.

Another often overlook dynamic is that many larger enterprise customers are working hard to eliminate silos of information and are purposefully sunsetting smaller departmental applications. These applications are sexy at first for all the reasons quoted in your post, but then morph into unmanagable, unsecure and unscaleable applications that typically take more time, money and energy to unwind later.

Coming full circle, I'm amazed that we need to relearn the valuable lessons of the past. Technology is, in and of itself, fairly uninteresting - unless of course it is wrapped in a holistic solution... a solution that addresses all those non-technology issues you correctly allude to in this post.

-SQ

Mary Adams

Reading your post made me think of the great article on complementary assets in MIT Sloan review this summer (http://sloanreview.mit.edu/smr/issue/2006/summer/11/). Authors Alan Hughes and Michael S. Scott Morton make a strong case that successful IT investments must be understood and managed together with investments in what they call "complementary assets." This means that you have to look at training, culture, and business processes in addition to the IT investment.

Seems obvious but this is the problem with KM and technology as well. Knowledge assets have to be seen as a system. This is the focus of the intellectual capital movement. IC includes knowledge but also people, processes, external relationships and brands. To create and profit from any of these factors, you have to look at the full suite of complementary assets. That is, to profit from KM investments, you have to understand the people, the work processes, the network, and so on.

Daniel W Rasmus

We tend to over think knowledge management. Too often knowledge transfer is seen as something that requires its own infrastructure, when what it really needs is solid communication and collaboration. People will accidentally leave behind bits (as I have often said though, they don't leave as many bits inside of corporations because unlike the Internet where information wants to be found, corporate information is an accident of process, which means it is mostly not actively managed to be found).

That being said, collaboration and communication bring people together. Content is the starting point for an introduction between people. People hate KM systems because they aren't natural. I see IM as a KM system, especially for the Millennial generation. Just-in-time knowledge transfer.

Sure, searching and repositories and all of the representation issues of knowledge are interesting techie quests. In the meantime, people in the trenches talk to each other to learn what they need to learn, and if some of that learning slops over into a document that can be found, good for the organization that proliferates such sloppy learning.

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