I had an 90s flashback the other day.
It all felt a bit Britney Spears and Brit Pop, a bit beanie babies and Gameboys.
I was chatting to someone from law firm management and (s)he was so irrepressibly and joyfully confident that a new database was *the best and only answer* to all the firm’s lawyers’ knowledge issues, that I had a complete 90s flashback.
What am I on about?
Back in the late 80s and 90s, when KM was relatively new as a field (although lawyers have been “doing” ad hoc KM since lawyering began) there was a strong sense that technology was *the answer*. It was thought that all knowledge could be distilled into something explicit and straightforward and put in a database where it would be joyfully harvested by a new global workforce.
Of course we now know that it didn’t work like that.
Lots of businesses wasted time and money.
Don’t get me wrong, database-warehouses work perfectly for some types of knowledge and should certainly be part of your overall knowledge management picture, along with process and quality management and automation, but we now know that management of more complex (often more valuable) knowledge requires different tactics.
It took a while, but KMers and the wider business community gradually learned that some knowledge is too complex to be shared via databases and that, for some knowledge and business sectors, conversation and connections were just as important.
So when someone confidently tells me that databases are *the answer* to all their law firm knowledge needs, I can’t help hearing that Brit Pop and Britney and smile.
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