Just watched a video called Is KM Dead? by Patrick Lambe with Dave Snowden and Larry Prusak.
This was alluded to back in 2005 by Martin Dugage, who said businesses were looking at KM as, “processes, engineering and mechanics”, rather they should be looking at it as, “practices, creativity, and social networks.”
Steve Denning relates to not the death of KM, but it’s approach. He alludes to the need for KM to be adaptive, that is to support tomorrow’s strategy. I don’t think KM should be the servant of any strategy, instead your strategies come from KM…KM is the “think tank” embedded in every team.
Dave Snowden likes to refer to social computing and Sensemaking more than KM these days, he mentions the objectives of KM theory are still the same, it’s just how it’s practiced that is changing, with less of an emphasise on management and more on adaptability (decision making) a changing environment.
In the video they talk about the 3 generations of KM, the 1st generation simply being just information management, then to collaboration spaces, and now to a more organic ecosystem (networks, emergence, and complex adaptive systems).
There’s a bit about the history of management and it’s origins in the term “manege” (to handle and train horses…the ability to ride a horse in dressage), Snowden says “you can’t issue a memo to the horse to instruct it to execute against targets, you have to develop a relationship between rider and horse over time.”
To me, practising in this relationship is how we learn know-how off each other, it’s about people connecting to people. This is what makes blogs so special, as you can do this online and geographically apart. In contrast we don’t learn or always absorb knowledge from a database, there is no conversation and relationship building.
Dave Snowden talks about the blogosphere as a university common room, and that rings so true for me. I don’t need to go back to university and study knowledge management from textbooks when I learn about it everyday in the blogosphere. In fact I bet I would be frustrated and want to take the class, sure the teacher may know the history of management, but I live social networking, there’s nothing like it, you are are hooked in to the “come to me web.”
I read consultant blogs who share their day, I interact with them, I blog my notes, and that’s how it works in this conversation market. I’m learning and doing at the same time (these guys get me thinking), and it’s all casual, stream of consciousness, fragments of life…plus I make friendships and connections.
They also talked about the organisation treating KM as a separate thing, rather than being a skill, capability, or a smart and social way of working. They think KM personnel will be a thing of the past, and hope to see it absorbed into how people work, with the help of a local co-ordinator in each team, to garden, facilitate, connect, guide, nuture…sounds like an information counsellor to me.
They also mention that librarians would be good as this role, and this just may be the case, because a lot like me have moved into the KM space. I’ve mentioned before, the librarian knows the interests of each person more than any other person, they are a hub. And naturally the librarian connects people, and naturally you think if only everyone could be connected like the librarian. This is why I think, as a former librarian, I took to social networking, because it amplified exactly what I was doing.
The video touched on codification, which I believe refers to making tacit knowledge into a explicit tangible information object…and shelve it in a best practices database.
Larry Prusak prefers the term knowledge making practices (or something like that), and the only sophisticated name for information he will accept is “knowledge representation”. Whereas Dave Snowden alludes to explicit knowledge (but he doesn’t expand on it), that is, knowledge disembodied from the holder. As much as he thinks codification is useless, he still thinks the output is a knowledge object (only how usable is this object to who encounters it).
When you blog isn’t that codification, making what you know into information for consumption?
The difference here is you are not writing it to a spec or formalised structure, trying to encapsulate all that happened, and categorising it in a taxonomy.
Instead a blog post is has it happens, unstructured, casual and informal, and self tagged.
The blog post lives in your space and people dip into it, it flows around…they are moving, not shelved like a document database.
A blog has ownership (it’s your place), rather then donating to a machine.
You want to write blog posts as a log of your thoughts and representation…your writings are for a different purpose (self interest, connection, passion and learning)….whereas you don’t want to codify a document into a database.
Writing blog posts becomes part of your daily routine, not extra effort.
You are rewarded with people reading and learning from your blog post, which motivates you…this doesn’t happen in a document database.
Your blog posts are dynamic, people leave comments, the content mutally evolves…there’s is no conversation in a static document database.
You connect to a blogger and clarify information (share the context), get a level of undertanding, get what’s behind the document…whereas you can’t talk to a document.
You build a relationship with the blogger (author’s house), they become your contact for other needs…a document database is owned by the taxonomer, no-one has their own place…whereas a blogosphere is everyone’s places meshed into one space.
If I like a blogger I will subscribe to them, and learn from them everyday…this just doesn’t happen in a document database.
What I like about the blogosphere is that it’s a work in progress/thinking out loud/as it happens culture (steam).
It’s funny, when you read a bloggers whitepaper, you are already intimate with its contents because the author has blogged their learnings and musing on the journey to this whitepaper. But the level of writing has to suit a common audience (or sometimes a narrow audience), so sometimes you miss the intimacy and informalness of a blog.
This is what makes a blogs special, it’s not just about content, it’s about the author, and your connection to evolve content together, and the context and commonality you have with the writer…this is a much more dynamic environment. Same goes with wikis, these are moving and changing things, rather than a static, non interactive, shelved document.
So in the end you do have a database of codified information, it’s called the blogosphere, so nothings different, it’s just the way it happens. The database happens as a by product, the database is the by product…very zen.
But this is not the aim of blogging, it’s more about conversation, your mouthpiece. This is a more naturalistic or organic way of working, people talking to people, it very much mimics how we act in the offline world…and this is what previous KM efforts didn’t do, it failed to gel with human nature. For more see Dave Snowden’s recent article, Everything is fragmented.
Have you ever talked about what you know to a filing cabinet?
Would I really make the effort to talk to a filing cabinet?
How do I ask the filing cabinet on some clarity on a document?
Am I going to build a relationship with the filing cabinet?
So is KM dead, is it social computing…they have the same aims.
Actually I don’t think social computing has an aim, it just is.
If you told a young person on the web today, the way they network and blog is practising knowledge management…they would say knowledge what, I’m just being, this is what I do, how I act.
I think KM is a bit envious of this as social computing is not separate, it’s just part of your routine.
Is it right to say social computing is the maturation of KM?
I think KM has the same aim but failed, it was just a mixture of information management, collaboration and expert locators.
Social computing came along without wanting to be anything, and perhaps is being hijacked by KM.
Imagine there was no such thing as knowledge management.
And all through the 1990’s there was only information management, and collaboration spaces, and then 10 years later social computing happened.
When you think about it like this, what actually is knowledge management?