Re: KM - consulting firms #strategy #consulting

Matt Moore <innotecture@...>


Most of my comments were actually about people, process and culture rather than technology.

My answer to question “are they good to look at for KM?” Is actually the classic consultant’s answer: “it depends”. Part of that is understanding the context in which KM practices have emerged in consulting and they might similar and different to your own.


Matt Moore
+61 423 784 504

On Oct 6, 2018, at 8:33 AM, Murray Jennex murphjen@... [sikmleaders] <sikmleaders@...> wrote:


Matt, not arguing anything you said.  I guess I'd have to ask though what do we mean by KM in consulting firms?  Are we focused on the capture, flow, sharing, and transfer of knowledge or are we focused on the technology used in consulting firms to do so?  My comments are based on managing the capture, flow, sharing, and transfer of knowledge.  As a discipline we have been saying for years that KM is NOT a technology but a fusion of practices, people, processes, and technology, and to that I agree.  I do agree that internal KM systems probably are not leading edge but only the largest consulting firms would need this, and I have seen that some do have the technology.  Smaller to mid size consulting firms, much like smaller and mid size non-consulting firms don't need to be leading edge.   That said, being small or mid sized does not make you worse at KM than a leading edge technical implementation (and I would argue that consulting firms are good at knowledge strategy so realize quickly the need to obtain leading edge technical capability, even if not implementing in their organization) organization.

I guess I'm now losing my focus on the overall discussion on consulting firms.  I believe the question was M.  My answer is yes in general with probably more emphasis on the processes and practices of KM and in agreement with Matt, not necessarily the technology used in consultant KM.....murray jennex

-----Original Message-----
From: Matt Moore innotecture@... [sikmleaders] <sikmleaders@...>
To: sikmleaders <sikmleaders@...>
Sent: Fri, Oct 5, 2018 3:20 pm
Subject: Re: [sikmleaders] Re: KM - consulting firms


So I have worked in a number of consulting firms doing KM roles and other things.

I think saying that “consulting firms are good at knowledge management” needs unpacking.

Yes, it is true that consulting firms:
- have people named knowledge managers
- have knowledge management systems
- promote those in proposals to their potential customers
- win MAKE awards
- in some ways, you could say that knowledge is what they sell.


Consulting firms have traditionally been partnerships. And partnerships tend to skimp on capital investment (because it means less profit for partners). Often you find the technology systems within consulting firms are out of date and far worse than what they recommend to their clients.

Likewise, the key metric is billable hours. That means that there is often a tension between doing something that builds the business (like KM) and something that directly yields revenue. And the latter generally wins.

And as partnerships, consulting firms tend to operate in a tribal manner - there will be a senior partner managing a practice area with a bunch of people reporting to them. And knowledge sharing within that group will be good. But it will be inconsistent and opportunistic between groups.

This means that even getting basic information (“where have we implemented Adobe EM in FMCG companies?”) can be more challenging than it should.

I would say that of all industries, consulting is the one where the gap between what is sold to the outside world in terms of KM and what actually occurs within is the largest.

Which is not to say that good KM work does not occur within consulting firms.

It’s also worth thinking about the life cycle of knowledge in consulting firms. These firms generally need to refresh their offerings every 2-5 years (because after a while, everyone has implemented SAP). So typically, you don’t care about what was done 5 years ago (esp. given you may have an annual staff turnover of 10-20%).

That’s different to engineering and asset-intensive businesses - where your assets will hopefully last for decades and where you should be maintaining knowledge of them.

In short: What consulting firms do KM-wise is shaped by the fundamentals of their business. If you are not a consulting firm, spend some time thinking about the differences in your fundamentals.


Matt Moore
+61 423 784 504

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