David Weinberger
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Goodness management

22 May 2000

KM took off initially not as a technology, not as an application, not as a theory, not as a body of practice, but as a buzz word. Believe it or not, there was a time when the word "knowledge" actually struck the ear as charmingly out of place in the business context. In fact, much of KM's appeal came from the fact that knowledge had a venerable, philosophical history that gave our tawdry corporate lives a classical sheen.

So, let us learn from history so that we may repeat it, purely for financial gain. If Knowledge Management was such a hit, then think of the bucks we could rake in with Goodness Management.

Hmm, what could GM be? Given KM's success, carefully defining the term obviously is not a requirement for it to ascend to the firmaments at rocket speed. But, we need at least to wave our hands a bit so we can give a PowerPoint presentation about it and sound like we're not just speaking gibberish. (Oh, wait, that's obviously not a requirement either!)

So, what's GM? Here's the pitch:

A business is all about behavior. But as companies become distributed and as the pace of business increases (due to global competition), there's more behavior than ever. Some of this behavior is useful, some is counter-productive, some is distracting and some--a small percentage--actually moves the company forward. That is what we call "good behavior." To achieve global competitive advantage in today's distributed business environment, companies need to identify their good behavior and increase it. It's been estimated by [Choose One: IDC, Delphi, Gartner] that only 5% of corporate behavior is currently good. If companies could convert only 1% or 2% of their non-good behavior into goodness, the gains would be immediate. [Pick a consulting company] estimates that the Return on Goodness could be as high as 147%. In fact, when [Choose One: Boeing, Dupont, HP] put in a GM system, it paid for itself in three days when [insert implausible anecdote].

That should be enough to kick off a three-year run of GM products, consulting practices, Web sites and conferences. And when the steam has finally gone out of GM, not to worry! We still have Truth Management and Beauty Management waiting in the wings, ready to go.

David Weinberger is editor of The Journal of Hyperlinked Organizations.