Inertia is the resistance of any physical object to any change in its state of motion including a change in direction. It is among the most important principles of classic physics to describe motion.
Organizational inertia is the by-product of accountability, continuity and standard operation procedures. Organizational inertia and bureaucracy is usually used pejoratively. However, inertia has some substantial benefits. These are predictability, dependable resource allocation, legal compliance, disaster planning, brand continuity, and so forth and so on. Inertial bureaucracy is aided by ordered processes, information technology, standards and Best Practices.
On the flip side, for productivity, innovation and growth, organizational inertia is mostly harmful. Stagnant organizations, systemic processes, red tape and bureaucratic hierarchy are the antithesis of agile, customer-focused and prosperous network organizations. Overlong product lifecycles, excessive administrative costs, employee disengagement, overbearing standards, and obsolete procedures are a few of the common symptoms of defective inertia and dysfunctional organizations.
In recent discussions, a strong, widespread consensus was revealed of the futility and great harm of knowledge management (KM) standards. Contrary to the notion of standards, the general agreement is that KM’s focus is squarely on the future.
The global opinion is KM is a leadership model charged to reveal and nurture flourishing organizational networks and prosperous ecologies. KM is the exclusive domain of Next Practices.
KM nurtures and develops the shared imagination essential to employee engagement, prosperity and well-being. The consensus is any standard, procedure, process or ‘best practice’ fundamentally and severely limits this key focus of KM.
Yet, in some precincts, legacy KM people claim Standards are necessary because organizations cannot change and adapt quickly enough. Huh? Thus, while agreeing KM Standards create inertia, they are necessary because of inertia. This is patently absurd.
Fortunately this illegitimate belief and tortured logic is not widespread. However, KM Standards do seem to remain un-dead like so many Hollywood zombies.
Legacy KM people have a longing and nostalgia for 20th Century process engineering, manufacturing models, technology and an insatiable appetite for rigid hierarchy. In their Kafkaesque model legacy KM apparatchiks deliberately institutionalize the evil and faulty properties of inertia. Their KM Standards are objectively bureaucratic.
KM functionaries, armed with their dogmatic and obsolete KM Standards, are incapable of unlearning, development and advancement. They stubbornly cling to the extreme KM canon of technology, process, portals, documents, procedures and standards for KM. They are incapable of making the commitment to the future required by KM. This is particularly disastrous because KM professionals are often the only ones in organizations that are given the specific responsibility of focusing on the future.
The way forward for KM is to reject the notion of standards, rigid procedures and legacy processes. KM Leaders must judiciously walk-back inertia and deliberately face and retire malfunctioning bureaucracy. KM must accept and cherish their focus on the future.
KM professionals must pursue comprehension and mastery of fluid network ecologies. KM must operate in an environment of perpetual disequilibrium. The role of KM is to provide the spark and continuous energy to assure emergence of productivity, innovation and growth. KM must Create the Future!