Evidence-based practice

I recently attended the South West CILIP AGM, where David Stewart, current president, talked (amongst other things) about the importance of evidence-based practice amongst library and information professionals.

Couldn’t agree more – x2 for Knowledge professionals.

KM can be an expensive resource in law firms – bought-in subscription services, PSLs/KLs, IT systems, time away from fee earning for learning – none of these are cheap.

But when was the last time you were able to review the latest research on the best ways to encourage knowledge sharing in businesses? When were you last given the budget to attend training on the latest thinking on how adults learn in the work place?

What if you relied on following the crowd, but that meant … you were following them in an expensive and inefficient direction?

Your lawyers can’t just practice however they fancy without keeping up with the latest thinking in the law. Why should KMers be expected to?

Why is it like this? Is it snobbish-ness in some parts of the legal sector, not so much amongst KM professionals, but amongst the lawyer-managers? A sense that “Academics can’t know what it’s like in the real world” and “We don’t need buzzwords and management fads“? Or a sense that they must uncritically keep up with the Joneses and everyone has moved from “KM” to “Blockchain” to “AI” to “Innovation”?

How can knowledge-intensive businesses like law firms know what is the most efficient and effective approach to exploiting and selling the combined knowledge within their business? By knowing about the latest Knowledge Management research, analysing it critically and taking the relevant parts for an informed, effective practice. It surprises me that firms don’t seem to mind wasting money ignoring years of learning on the topic of “how to maximise profit from knowledge”.

I’m not necessarily talking about buying the latest technological gizmos: I’m talking about having the right practices in place to get knowledge shared around the business in what we have learned are the most efficient and effective ways.

I know that time is always a factor, but a lawyer would not be permitted to say “I was too busy to keep up with the changes in the law” in their defence of a professional negligence claim.

Agree? Disagree?

If you agree, what can you do to improve your evidence-based practice?

  • Read more books: Nonaka, Davenport & Prusak, O’Dell, Leonard (maybe even a Russell?)
  • Read a journal: the Journal of Knowledge Management isn’t a bad place to start.
  • Join a supportive learning group: in-person is best, but VC is not bad.
  • Attend some training: again, in-person is best, but on-line courses can be OK if they are well designed and you put effort in.
  • Look outside your sector: how are other sectors responding to their challenges? You might get some great ideas that no one else has tried in your sector yet – get ahead of the competition. And learn about and critically assess the value of other management tools: design thinking, UX, process and quality management.
  • Experiment and gather your own evidence: who knows your business better? Make sure you know when to drop an idea/pilot and move on. And make sure it’s always a learning experience.

Want to give these a try, but not sure where to start? You can DIY, or, if you like my stuff, I’ve a couple of things that can help, some paid-for, some free: book club, workshops, online courses, Knowledge Network UK, books, RCTs.

What do you think? Am I being unfair? I’d love to know what you think. And what other resources would you add to improve your own evidence-based practice?

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About knowledge4lawyers

I am a lawyer and a Knowledge Management expert. Through The Knowledge Business I help law firms improve their efficiency and profitability through knowledge services - consultancy, training and implementation help.
This entry was posted in KM, Personal Knowledge Management, Strategy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Evidence-based practice

  1. Bruce Boyes says:

    Great to see evidence-based KM promoted in this way, thank you. Further guidance and resources can be found at https://realkm.com/2019/02/12/guidance-and-resources-for-evidence-based-knowledge-management/

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