Gurteen Knowledge Management Community

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David G.

David

Time for HR to come in form the cold?

Resilience, Complexity, KM, L&D, Agile: International Problem Solver & Agent Provocateur

HR has a vital role to play in the management of knowledge resources, so why is it not generally happening?

Time for HR to come in from the cold theknowledgecore.wordpress.com

Follow @kmskunkworks Organisations need to manage the boundaries of their operations if they are to coordinate their knowledge resources and, in doing so, become more dynamic, agile and adaptive. This boundary management means engagement with human...

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  • August 9, 2012
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  • Vincent L.

    Vincent

    Vincent L.

    Assert, protect, monetize and manage your IP and IC

    "Why HR is not keen to take a role in KM" was the question I frequently asked. And I think I have the answers. It is because KM is not included in HR management studies, not included in HR practitioner job descriptions, and not included in HR professional associations topic of concern. And HR people are, in general, more conservative to take the lead to change the situation that may add responsibilities and work loads but not ncecessarily income. I knew it because I was once HR managers for more than a decade.

  • David G.

    David

    David G.

    Resilience, Complexity, KM, L&D, Agile: International Problem Solver & Agent Provocateur

    Hi Vincent, totally agree, which is why there needs to be a shift in thinking.

  • Douglas W.

    Douglas

    Douglas W.

    Chairman at International KM Institute

    David, I agree.
    If it is correct to describe a key KM activity as - "create a learning organization", then where are the learning experts - trainers?

    Clearly, HR folks (especially those that are training and organizational development experts) need to be involved on KM Team, even if not as Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO).

    In the KM Institute's "KM Transformation Solution"™, HR must play a key role, as they should. But, are they aware of that need/role?

  • Bob D.

    Bob

    Bob D.

    Innovating approaches to inspire high-performing employees through learning, knowledge, and collaboration management

    A complication to this question, in regard to the learning experts, is learning is not always a function of HR. As an example, at one of my former employers, learning was a function of each vertical such that the learning teams of Sales, Contact Centers, and Marketing were independent of each other. In this arrangement, learning did not play a strategic/leading role, rather, they followed and did as directed by non-learning leaders.

    This is, and has been, a serious issue in the learning realm for many decades now. As a KM practitioner who came from the learning realm, I don't believe having learning a part of HR is a successful arrangement. The arrangement I support is a specific learning function with a CLO (learning officer).

    I would agree that both learning and HR are not aware that they need to be involved in KM activities. I also would put forth that many other functions are unaware, such as Legal, Facilities, and PR. Recognizing this, I made it a part of my KM roles to ensure all functions of an enterprise were aware of the role they need to play and how the role would benefit everyone.

  • John James O.

    John James

    John James O.

    Independent Advisor & Coach available internationlly re Governance, Knowledge, Records & Information Management

    In my experience of several types of organiational systems in the public sector and not a few in the private sector, HR (donning my asbestos suit) is more about compliance and procedure than about human resources. Bob's observation about vertical management of team capacity resonates with my experience. That said, HR can be engaged creatively...but as in any such endeavour, that's about introducing (provoking?) change. 'twas ever thus.

  • Matthew L.

    Matthew

    Matthew L.

    Senior Analyst - Knowledge Management at WBB

    I don't think that HR practitioners typically think they are out in the cold, but are indeed fighting their own demons in terms of becoming trapped in purely administrative and functional roles.

    SHRM is pushing down the path of HR becoming more business-focused, hence the increasing number of HR practitioners with MBA qualifications, and they do not seem to feel that KM is on that path.

    @Bob, I agree with that, it seems to me that when L&D is seen as something important in a firm it typically gets established as a separate function outside HR, and where it is not seen as critical it just slides in under each functional unit. i.e. Customer Service sees to their own training, Sales do whatever training they feel necessary, etc.
    The only part that often does seem to stick to HR is Occupational Health & Safety, but I guess that Safety departments frequently take that on.

    Something that puzzles me is why KM and I/O Psychology are typically so far apart.
    Even more strange, IOP and Applied Psy coursework often mentions KM, but KM seldom if ever mentions IOP/AP.

    I have a fair library of KM and IOP textbooks, and it is remarkable that even when KM deals with directly "people stuff" like CoP, none of those textbooks mention IOP/AP, whereas most of the IOP/AP textbooks I own mention KM.

    Is it perhaps that it is we who are "out in the cold", rather than HR?

  • Bob D.

    Bob

    Bob D.

    Innovating approaches to inspire high-performing employees through learning, knowledge, and collaboration management

    @Matthew, I have wondered about the separation between KM and IOP as well - I agree, they seem very connected.

    KM practitioners are just as out in the cold as HR and Learning - It is as you put it in the response to my comments. When deemed critical, these functions are brought in and expected to contribute equally to mission success; otherwise, the functions are managed as support groups.

  • Douglas W.

    Douglas

    Douglas W.

    Chairman at International KM Institute

    So, if KM is strategic and truly requires transformation to be successful, then a KM learning plan - aka KM Awareness Plan, is essential.

    Who should be responsible? How should it be delivered?

  • Bob D.

    Bob

    Bob D.

    Innovating approaches to inspire high-performing employees through learning, knowledge, and collaboration management

    @Douglas, that is a question my close peers and I have asked as well. We essentially agree that, since KM is pervasive throughout an enterprise and since most enterprises are vertically structured, no single CXO leader is a clear champion.

    Ultimately, I believe someone at the CXO level needs to be responsible and take charge, and then build out a SMALL team dedicated to KM.

  • Douglas W.

    Douglas

    Douglas W.

    Chairman at International KM Institute

    @Bob, I think change management experts (e.g., John Kotter) would strongly recommend some type of KM Advisory or Steering Committee, which should span silos and be made up of many CXOs, or at least their first reports.

    But, how do an organization's KMers come to know that? You seem to be nearing that insight, maybe because you have peers with whom you can reflect further on the logic you have just described.

    But, barring a peer network such as you describe, who informs solo KMers of that need?

    Who advisers the Advisers about what they should do, besides meet?

    What if KM is not top down, who informs the grass roots about the emerging Knowledge Age.

    Above issues have precedent in change management learning plans - aka KM Awareness Plan, but who creates and funds them?

    I think this is a void in KM implementation. Thoughts?

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