Friday, 16 July 2010

Cuts, Cuts, Cuts- Where's the KM?

Today is the closing date for UK Government departments to submit their proposals for cost savings in the coalition's comprehensive spending review. Figures of up to 40% reductions are being bandied about with seemingly little interest or concern from the general public on what this might actually mean.

Without going into the finer details of what 40% could really mean to departments, we are seemingly going to see massive reductions in staff numbers across government.

Effectiveness and efficiency, value for money, leaner, smarter, faster, handing power to the people and moving away from central government.

A quick glance at government websites and you will either see a standard message that the content of the site is under review, or indeed find you are looking at pages that have been removed and pasted into the national archive.

So a simple enough task to copy and paste web pages before they disappear, but what about capturing tacit and explicit knowledge, knowledge sharing and expertise of employees who make a difference, who know how systems work, how improvements get implemented, who do their jobs efficiently and effectively, but ultimately will be axed as 'cost savings'. How do you incentivise knowledge sharing (great blog by nick Milton) in a workforce that is being cut?

Fail to implement an effective strategy to capture at least the core knowledge and there is surely a risk that the short term cost savings will see a spill of valuable knowledge far greater in size than any oil leak.

Today, The Royal Society have written to the government outlining a case for investment rather than cuts to science funding
"The debate is taking place at a time when other countries, facing similar economic dilemmas, are accelerating their investment in science and innovation. France has announced a 35 billion Euro investment in its knowledge economy. Germany has increased its federal budget for education and research by 12 billion Euros and the US last year announced a $21 billion boost for science."

And the government are busy publishing each department's 'structural reform plans'

I hope we see our chief knowledge officers working in government step up to the mark in the coming months and use the moment as an opportunity to flag up the risks the cuts present and demonstrate how real investment in skilling up depts in effective KM cultures should be the way forward.

Tony Jameson-Allen

Founder of Evolution Networks
Linkedin Profile
Trustee of The Funzi and Bodo Trust

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