Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Moving away From the Command and Control Approach to Knowledge Management

I remember listening to David Jabbari, Global Head of Knowledge Management, Allen + Overy LLP at LegalTech 2008. He spoke on a panel entitled: Technology Integration – The New Face of Knowledge Management. Part of presentation focused on the growing use of wikis and blogs at his firm.

Mr. Jabbari has now gone on to embrace Knowledge Management 2.0 in an article in the ABA's Law Practice Today: The End of 'Command Control' Approaches to Knowledge Management?
"If you see knowledge as an inert ‘thing’ that can be captured, edited and distributed, there is a danger that your KM effort will gravitate to the rather boring, back-office work preoccupied with indexes and IT systems. This will be accompanied by a ritualized nagging of senior lawyers to contribute more knowledge to online systems. If, however, you see knowledge as a creative and collaborative activity, your interest will be the way in which distinctive insights can be created and deployed to deepen client relationships. You will tend to be more interested in connecting people than in building perfect knowledge repositories"
As he writes in the article, Mr. Jabbari first caught onto this idea after seeing a seminar on Wikipedia a few years ago. He now sees knowledge management as a three prong approach: Collaboration, Location and Navigation.

I like the focus on these three areas so this is my take on them:

Collaboration. We must encourage the unregulated proliferation of content online (internally and externally). At law firms, this is already this occurring in our document management systems. Moving it online is just changing the forum. Even though enterprise 2.0 is more open, it surprisingly easier to monitor the content. As wikis are growing at The Firm, our KM team is taking on the role of wiki gardeners, as well as wiki champions.

Location. Google has raised the expectation of people when looking for information. The junior associates coming into a law firm are used to finding whatever they want at the snap of their fingers. Law firms need to have that same capability internally. This can work by just pointing the search engine at your document collections. But then you lose the inter-relationship between the content. The use of wikis and enterprise 2.0 tools allows you link to relevant content found elsewhere.

Navigation. Search is great, but you also need to guide people to the good content. Search is important when you are not sure what you are looking for and navigation is important when you do know what you are looking for.

Also see:


  1. I think that part of the revolution is that collaboration is being integrated into the daily workflow of the firm. Knowledge management fails when it asks people to take the time to do something extra. It succeeds when it generates personal ROI on their time, and as a by product, produces firm-wide ROI.

    --Chris Yeh, PBwiki

  2. @ Chris -

    I think that is exactly the problem with first generation knowledge management.

    The new approach of KM and tools is to provide the individual with way to manage their knowledge and flow and information. The rest of us are just along for the ride, but can tap into their collection.

    People are also realizing that email is not a collaboration tool. It is create for communicating, but not sharing and collecting information for a group.


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