Learning from the enemy

When seeking analogues for KM, learn from the organisations which are best at KM, not just from the organisations you like

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I delivered a training course a couple of months ago for a development organisation, using a whole set of example and case studies to show how leading organisations do knowledge management. Part of the feedback I received was “we don’t want to see examples from the Oil and Gas sector. We believe in sustainability and alternative energy, and don’t like to see fossil fuel examples”.
I saw something similar over a decade ago, when talking to someone from the charity sector.  “I don’t want to see examples from industry” he said. “We are different  – we don’t care about profit and we don’t like industry”
In some ways, I appreciate this view, but in other ways i think its short sighted. Just because you don’t like the work an organisation does, doesn’t mean you cant learn from the way they do that work. The Oil and Gas sector is the second or third most mature sector in KM terms, after the legal sector (which has its own unique view on KM). Organisations such as Shell, to take an example,  have a 20-year history of KM, and their continual improvement of their KM framework over the decades has led to one of the most robust developments of KM that I know. This gives a model for anyone to learn from, of they work in a project framework, and want to deliver those projects more effectively and efficiently through KM.
Not to learn from KM at Shell, just because you don’t like the Oil sector on environmental grounds, would be a mistake.

When you are looking at KM examples, my advice would be to learn from the best and the most experienced organisations, whatever their business sector and whatever their business aims.

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Shared by: Nick Milton