Some law firms use manually intensive approaches to knowledge management; others eschew creating specialized knowledge management positions and instead rely on automation. What are the pros and cons of the manual versus automated approach? 

My article, What’s Your Strategy for Collecting and Cataloging Documents?, which appears in the February issue of Capital Connection (a publication of the Capital Chapter of the Association of Legal Administrators, explores this question, comparing and contrasting the two approaches. Not to give away the punch line, but my article does not conclude that one is better than the other – it all depends on what a firm wants to accomplish, the resources it has available, and the culture.

The issue of manual versus automated approaches is not limited to KM. In Depressing Innovation in Pharmaceuticals, my friend Eric Mankin of Innovation & Business Architectures, analyzes automated versus manual approaches in the research and discovery of new drug compounds. Highly automated approaches are turning out to be less successful than the industry had initially hoped. I am not sure that one can draw too many conclusions about KM from this, but the lesson I take away is that human input and understanding context is pretty critical.

Separately, I am reminded of the importance of culture in any KM initiative by another article. Peter Krakaur of Orrick alerted me to Turn on the know how from an October issue of Federal Computer Week. It discusses the change management required to cause workers to use any KM system.