Tuesday, 29 July 2008

the great KM debate surfaces again !

I wish I had been able to keep pace with the blogging recently, I could have contributed to the latest conversation on Knowledge Management, yep, its back again........ I have to add my two penneth worth, even it if its late.

So, apparently Chuck Hollis of EMC kicked it off this time, with a provocatively titled posting; "The end of Knowledge Management". Chuck seems to equate 'classical' KM as being almost the same as document management, at least thats how I read this statement: "I think what we're seeing a fundamental redefinition of knowledge management -- away from formalized documents living in a repository -- and towards active social networks of knowledgeable people who share, communicate and collaborate -- which we then capture and preserve for future use."

Now I did the Managing Knowledge module of my MBA course, as did a close colleague at the Open University, and we once had a rousing debate in an eRoom on the subject of Nonaka and Takeuchi's case for capturing knowledge via the SECI process (my argument) versus what Browne has to say about the way individuals indulge in sense making. Obviously other colleagues just gawped at the two pseudo academics in amazement, and probably did not understand a thing we were on about, but we enjoyed the debate. However I have since had an epiphany and now follow Dave Snowden's theories on KM, and he really, really is not a fan of SECI ! Dave's recent article on KM World is referenced by Lee Dallas on BMOC when he chips in.

Lee seems to agree with Dave, David Gurteen, Pie and others, that '2.0' technologies are assisting in capturing information, but that more importantly a generation of users that have grown up with user generated content, and 'web 2.0' tools 'get it' when it comes to processes that can deliver 'knowledge management' (in lower case), to quote: "
The content being created in wikis and blogs is given context and relevance directly by those that know what it is for, what it says and how to apply it. The information is becoming knowledge."


I agree with this statement, because I agree with Dave Snowden that human brains turn information into knowledge. Information, plus context (contextual meta-information ?) is processed inline with the individuals past experience to create knowledge. Its becoming knowledge in the readers head, not on the pages of a blog or a wiki. Pie's input includes the post; "Knowledge Management is marching along" where he, as usual, does a good job of pulling various threads together, on how E 2.0 tech, plus ECM, SOA and various other technologies can be enablers for 'KM 2.0'. Bex makes an interesting comment, stating he would just like to drop the discredited 'KM' term, and just stick with 'Enterprise 2.0' as the new wave. Following on this 'semantics' theme, David Gurteen has a recent post pointing to an article on IBM changing to using the term Knowledge Sharing instead of Knowldge Management. I know its bad blogging practice not to link to this, but David weblog has just stopped my Firefox dead in its tracks 3 times, and I am not starting this blog post again....!

So, what can we take from all of this ?
  1. KM is not dead - it was never alive in the first place ! (so was it a Zombie ?)
  2. KM Systems were just another type of content management system, for managing data and information
  3. Enterprise 2.0 technologies allow us to build better systems for managing information, better than KM 1.0 systems that is.
  4. Culture is changing, people are getting more used to information management in general (i.e. they may not know what metadata is, but they 'tag' their music in iTunes) and participating via easy to use interfaces (thus getting them to blog, use wiki's etc might be easier than getting them to place 'their' information in the 'corporate KM' system)
  5. If you want to indulge in knowledge management (with a small k and a small m) or intellectual capital management, or intellectual property management or any other label you want to give to this endeavor, you need good Information Management systems to underpin your efforts.
  6. Point 5 means the latest ECM, Enterprise Search, and Enterprise 2.0 technologies may help you in achieving your goals - but as ever, the shiny new software is no panacea.
Bottom line for me, Information sharing is key, and thus Information Management including a 'knowledge management' component, alongside collaborative information creation and 'Information Organisation and Access' are all important to your organisation, lets consider that instead of getting too hung up on the labels.

Previous, but related posts:
Its Official, Enterprise 2.0 = Knowledge Management
Online Information 2007 - Updated

Also may I suggest you search Slideshare.net for Dave Snowden and David Gurteen, they both put their stuff up on there.

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