Knowledge Management Models

There seem to be as many models as there are KM practitioners. I have collected many over the years, from conferences, white papers, books, articles, research reports. There are similarities and differences among them for sure and I often find I spend a lot of time (depending on the project) trying to customize a model for my client’s specific situation.

Models are useful for describing something, you know, drawing a picture to help someone understand: a picture’s worth a thousand words, so they say.

I like models as much as the next person, in fact I am often trying to create a model in my head when I’m talking to people; I’m a process person at heart, so if I can’t understand something as a process, I’m a bit lost. Things never really make sense until I understand them as a process. My challenge with models is that a lot of people seem to think they are the be-all and end-all of work, especially consulting work, whereas I see them as only the start. I also don’t belong to the school of thought that says just because someone has published a model, that it’s automatically something I should use in every situation that comes up–it’s the old “if I have a hammer, everything looks like a nail” situation.

The real value in a model is knowing what to do with it once you have picked/developed one that works in your situation. It’s nice drawing a picture, but if you can’t answer the “so what?” then what’s the point? I’m all about being practical, it’s nice to know where you are and where you’re going, but if you can’t figure out how to get there, then it doesn’t do you much good.

Now, I realize some people/organizations, don’t actually want to to get to where they’re going, they’d rather make it look like they were going somewhere than actually get there, change is scary after-all–let’s just stay here and look like we’re doing something and pretty charts and graphs and models make it look like we’re doing something, doesn’t it?