A long knowledge management article appears today in the The Wall Street Journal

Putting Ideas to Work (10 March 2008, p. R11, $)) by Thomas H. Davenport, Laurence Prusak and Bruce Strong is subtitled “Knowledge management can make a difference — but it needs to be more pragmatic.” (Update: The article is also available for free at the Sloan Review.)

The authors point to a focus “solely on technology at the expense of everything else” as a key reason for KM’s limited success. That surely resonates with many legal KM professionals. They define KM as “a concerted effort to improve how knowledge is created, delivered and used” which differs considerably from my favored “the art and science of capturing and re-using know-how, whether written or not.”

Their solution to improve KM is a three-prong approach: knowledge creation, knowledge dissemination, and knowledge application. It seems to me though that the authors simply re-characterize numerous other corporate activities such as R&D, web technologies, partnering programs, portals, communities, e-learning, and after action reviews into these bins. I miss the common thread they seem to see.

I’ve frequently written about legal KM morphing into practice support. As I read this article, it suggests that corporate KM is being absorbed by the building blocks of other functions. Sounds like a similar theme to me, only one that is not articulated.