Some people do not want to be affiliated with the failed KM crowd, and the existing KM crowd have been waiting for the day that the tools (along with the right approach) would come along to achieve their aims…and now these tools are here!
Some would say, what gives the right for KM to hijack Enterprise 2.0.
I’ve posted on the irony that employees became to be respected, that they were not just cogs in a machine, instead they were knowledge workers. They had talent beyond their job, and their ideas and what they learnt from their job or elsewhere could be fed back into the organisation. This is really important for the fast paced services industry, as exploiting know-how is how work gets done most effectively. So the irony was, to try and capitalise and augment the sharing and spread of this knowledge, we had KM use industrial techniques. Just as we were moving away from the industrial age, KM was still treating people as computers that log things and spit them out on demand.
Enterprise 2.0 is based on bottom-up tools that allows for connections and emergence to happen, ie. knowledge workers now have the tools to do work and distribute their talent without really needing a department telling them to do so.
Bottom-up vs Top-down management approach
Venkat’s post about the KM and SM War has merit, his example shows that some KM practioners are incorporating these new tools, but still in the old management style, ie. a planned recipe style approach. Venkat’s says:
“…he completely ignored new elements in the technology and forcefully presented the design pattern for his success as the design pattern for success”
“Where he advocated planning, I advocated ad-hoc experimentation. Where he advocated charters to declare expected value, I advocated a you’ll-know-it-when-you-see-it approach to discovering value. Where he talked about convincing SMEs, I argued that you should just watch for opinion leaders to emerge.”
“…not only do Boomers not get complexity, they are suspicious of it, thanks to their early cultural training which deifies simplicity. The result of this difference is that Boomer management models rely too much on simplistic ideological-vision-driven ideas. Consider, for instance, the classic Boomer idea of creating “communities of practice” with defined “Charters” and devoted to identifying “Best Practices.” No Gen X’er or Millenial would dare to reduce the complexity of real-world social engineering to a fixed “charter” or presume to nominate any work process as “best.””
I agree, the new style is for workers to put the complexity into the software, let them sculpture it to their way of working and connecting. As Bill Ives says:
“The irony of enterprise 2.0 is that you actually get more control because the free form nature of the tools allow the business people to decide on where structure occurs, not the people who make the software.”
The main thing we have to teach is a little on how to use the tools, especially in their context of helping them get their work done more efficiently and effectively, and a little governance (boundaries).
It’s my hope that most existing KM practitioners understand that this new generation of KM has changed from a management role, to facilitating and flow…more about coordinating and guiding.
I do agree with Neil Olonoff’s comment that Venkat is generalising how people typically run KM. When you look at conferences from actKM you will see that these KM’ers have been ahead of the curve in this thinking for a long while.
Keith De La Rue concurs, saying: “Most KM practitioners (certainly most that I know and work with) view KM as being all about people, with the tools a secondary issue. Web 2.0 provides a fantastic new toolkit - one that is far more people-centric that the older tools - and is a great boon to real KM.”
The way I see it, we can’t tell or force seeds to propagate into a plant, it’s not always going to work out, but we can fertilise and water the soil, ie. create conditions for this to happen on it’s own.
Enterprise 2.0 is connecting and networks, emergence and autonomous behaviours result (sense-making), so this becomes closer to achieving the original aim of KM. Doing KM at the individual level becomes more invisible and embedded…practitioners become coordinators guiding people, cultivating and fertilising the soil (this is the KM 2.0 part).
You can also see this in the library industry, with Google and the web, librarian’s are increasingly becoming focused on the reference role of facilitators, guides, assistants in helping you with your approach to your task.
Venkat finishes by saying:
“And it won’t be just a victory of fashion. It will be a fundamental victory of the better idea. SM is an organic, protean, creative and energetic force. KM is a brittle, mechanical, anxiety and fear-ridden structure”
Again, with a bottom-up management approach KM doesn’t have to be this way, just like Marketing 2.0, Learning 2.0, etc…it’s all about a 2.0 approach.
It’s important that heavy weights like Tom Davenport recognise how enterprise 2.0 differs from KM, and how KM 2.0 is about guiding the emergence, and feeding back, making it adaptive as possible:
“…there are a few differences between classical KM and E2.0. The tools are largely different, for one. Perhaps the most important difference is the emphasis on emergence of content structures in E2.0, rather than specifying them in advance, as early knowledge managers had to. But I’ve always felt that most information environments require some mixture of structure and emergence. Andy’s comment that E2.0 requires “gardeners” suggests that he agrees.”
Complex Adaptive System
I have just started to read Steven Johnson’s book, Emergence, and from it I’m taking away the idea that enterprise 2.0 or emergence is not enough on its own, as there will always be a management framework, which serves the reason for being in business.
It’s known that enterprise 2.0 needs facilitation to get adoption and network effects compared to the open web, when there is emergence, the macro picture may show that workers are carving out their own work, which can be seen as adaptive (self-organising), but the question is…
Is it adaptive to the mission and objectives of the enterprise?
Steven gives an example of programmed billiard balls that alter their movement when interacting with other balls…he calls this complex behaviour, “a system with multiple agents dynamically interacting in multiple ways, following local rules and oblivious to any higher-level instructions”
“But it wouldn’t truly be considered emergent until those local interactions resulted in some kind of discernable macrobehaviour.” eg. the balls end up on either side of the table in clusters, even on one side and odd on the other.
“That would mark the beginnings of emergence, a high-level pattern arising out of parallel complex interactions between local agents…the balls aren’t programmed explicitly to cluser in two groups…yet out of those low-level routines, a coherent shape emerges.”
But he goes on to say that this is not adaptive, until it becomes useful.
eg. if it was in the interest of our pool hall to attract players, it would be adaptive behaviour for the balls to end up forming one cluster in a triangle shape with the white ball on the other end…as this is useful.
“The system would use local rules between interacting agents to create higher-level behaviour well suited to its environment. Emergent complexity without adaptation is like the intricate crystals formed by a snowflake: it’s a beautiful pattern, but it has no function”
He talks about emergent behavior becoming smarter over time and responding to environmental changes.
KM 2.0 is the adaptive guidance
This is why in my post on the KM Core sample I differentiated between social computing (an aspect of enterprise 2.0) and KM 2.0.
Enterprise 2.0 can show plenty of emergence (eg. a wiki evolving or manifesting into a great thing from the input of many people, tagged blog posts in a blogosphere showing us what’s hot and what’s being talked about in a tag cloud…these are low level interactions, that in aggregate paint a picture or emerging pattern), but perhaps it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an adaptive system. Things could emerge into negative patterns, and an enterprise framework is only self-organising in the correct direction to an extent, as we still have a director or manager who has a goal, objective, etc…
So KM 2.0’s role is to harness these gifts of emergence that the manager couldn’t forsee upfront, and is respecting this gift and talent of the knowledge workers…having an enterprise 2.0 ecosystem shows respect already, as it shows that the manager is willing for transparency and people to direct themselves to an extent.
Another important aspect here is that KM is not always about adhering to strategy, in fact new strategy can emerge from listening to the enterprise 2.0 ecosystem.
But at the same time it’s the KM 2.0 practitioners role is to make sure all this emergence is adaptable to what the organisation is about, etc…I don’t yet know much about complexity, so I can’t give examples.
But my question to people like Dave Snowden is:
Is enterprise 2.0 without outside interference a complex adaptive system?
ie. is web 2.0 within an organisational framework, self-organising and emergent that is adapts to the organisational goals.
At this stage I don’t think so, as emergent patterns may conflict with existing goals, this could be for the better, resulting in altering the goals, but it could be for the worse, where the emerging patterns have to be pushed back or dampened.
But in another way I do think workers can become more autonomous, connecting to people carving out their own work projects.
Anyway, this to me is my current stance on the difference between KM 2.0 and Enterprise 2.0.
Some might say that people facilitating enterprise 2.0 do not have to have existing KM skills (which is what anyway?), so KM does not really have to be this role. But to me existing KM practitioners are the obvious choice to guide enterprise 2.0, just as long as they understand complex systems and facilitation. They require humanistic and interpersonal skills, rather than too much focusing on top-down plan and outcome, they need to understand emergence, to let just things happen and then capitalise on this, their is no golden recipe, every situation is contextually different.
They are usually the same person that facilitate or teach offline emergent techniques such as anecdote circles, knowledge cafes, etc…
Existing KM people in organisations naturally become the people responsible for enterprise 2.0, does this mean they change their job title. KM attempted to achieve better performance, sharing, productivity, etc…and this is what enterprise 2.0 also does, but without trying, it kind of just does it if you use it, it has no aim or intention. Enterprise 2.0 goes beyond the original concept of KM (knowledge sharing) to situational awareness and perpetual learning and building capabilities…rather than need-to-know, it “always on” learning.
Are we going to sack KM people and replace them with E2.0 people, or are KM people now going to have a change of job title?
This is really bigger than KM or enterprise 2.0, it’s about a new style of management.
It’s about letting enterprise 2.0 breathe and flow, and adapting to what emerges into decision making
In this post I asked:
“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?”
Venkat attributes this a generational war with Gen X as neutral (the swing vote), Boomers as idealistic and linear, Millenials understanding complexity and avoiding the big picture (having trust in how it all comes together.)
I agree to a degree, but I wouldn’t say it’s this black and white, I’m a Gen X’er and all my networks (facebook, blogs, twitter, friendfeed) are mostly Gen X and Boomers…in fact there are too many for me to network with…
I think we also need to see this in the perspective of Generation Virtual (Generation V)
Stephen Collins from AcidLabs alludes to not getting carried away by the the age divide:
“There’s solid research that suggests the generational divide is at least in part less about age and more about life situation. I agree that as a group taken in aggregate, Gen Y exhibits these traits. And, again as a group they will ultimately be the catalyst for change societally and in business (and I can hardly wait).”
More on this from Shifted HR:
“…all generations have similar values; they just express them differently. It also highlighted that if you are party to a conflict that appears to be about generation-based values differences it is most likely that the conflict is between individuals and that it has nothing to do with their generation and the conflict is about difference in behaviour rather than about a fundamental values difference.”
Olivier Amprimo comments on this blog post about the generational neutral trait of curiosity:
“The adoption of social computing is linked to curiosity to use tools and understanding how this set of tools can be customized to create meaningful application for organisations.
Hopefully, curiosity is not a question of age. And the ability to create meaningful applications in a corporate world means one does need to have experience in this environment.
How social tools can positively complement or renew existing processes and help make more profitable or efficient businesses is the key to “Enterprise 2.0″ adoption. The immature debate on ROI 2.0 over the last summer set the frame: the bottom line is and remains the driver.”
Read more about generational stereotypes.
I’m not going to get into this but I do agree with Venkat that social networks are more dynamic then expert locators. Briefly my thoughts are that social networks are engaging, they are an actual tool, rather than a look-up thing, check out my comments on Mark Gould’s blog.
Let’s keep in mind that latest reports show us that learning and guidance is the main key to adoption. No matter how low a barrier to entry the technology is, and how many great features are available people need to know how it applies to their routine…ease of use alone is not the panacea to adoption.
Does the enterprise exist?
Just to finish off Gordon from Infovark has a gem on the individuals that make up the enterprise:
“If we want to change the way people work, we have to give up on this notion of “the enterprise” as the thing that needs to change. We have to stop focusing on abstractions like Enterprise Content Management and Business Intelligence. We can’t claim to bring more “Collaboration“, more “Innovation” or more “Social” into the enterprise. These things are intangible, hard to see, hard to measure, and largely irrelevant to the problems at hand.
Trying to bring about change at the abstract level is impossible. What ends up being sold is a utopian ideal. No wonder most of these projects fail — they’re designed entirely in fairyland.
What we need to do is get back to reality. Let’s tell the architecture astronauts to come home.
Enterprises are made of people.”
I left a comment saying it’s got to be an ROI for the individual first.
Dean from Infovark talks about enterprise 2.0:
“That’s what Enterprise 2.0 is about. It’s about adapting some of the successful tools and communications technologies found on the open web to solve problems faced by people working in creative, knowledge-based industries.
The priorities have shifted from problems of scale to problems of innovation.”
Has km died, and resurrected as social computing?
Knowledge and its facilitators
KM : Round 2.0
KM 2.0 culture
The emergence of Serendipity 2.0 and Innovation 2.0
Seven ways enterprise 2.0 differs from web 2.0
The KM generation of networks and emergence
ROI for the knowledge worker is ROI for all, and how KM took an ironic approach
The KM Core Sample in relation to IM, KM 1.0, Social Computing, and KM 2.0
The emergence of Serendipity 2.0 and Innovation 2.0
My recent article on KM Review - When Two Worlds Collide
Knowledge sharing for anticipatory awareness
There’s more than just supply-side KM
KM 2.0 model
Participation is the currency of the knowledge economy
An ecosystem is emerging