Why does Knowledge Management exist?

Why does Knowledge Management exist?

I find myself getting more and more frustrated with today’s Knowledge Management solutions. For me, far too much time and energy is expended in conflicts where the rules of engagement were set at a time when KM was seen as an IM function and complexity was more about academic debate than a real world challenge. In 2002 Dave Snowden talked about KM existing in v3.0, with version 1.0 emerging in the late 80s/early 90s. The fundamental problem is that the conflicts of today are grounded in this history, which is fast becoming irrelevant. More and more people are starting to talk about KM being integrated. They are slowly warming to the human side of KM, but why?

So, my question, why does Knowledge management exist in the first place?

To help frame the thinking of those interested in this challenge, I am sharing an introduction from a series of e-learning courses we are developing for Indiana CPA Society, which also happens to be a method we use when scene-setting on our Knowledge Hacking Days:

Next, consider how do we create the future? The challenge is to move from the conflicts of the here and now to a future “green field” space. This is difficult. We have to unlearn the mental models, the schema, that frame our engagement in today’s conflicts. There is a need to acknowledge and forgive assumptions that drive, what I believe to be, short-term decision-making and the theater of future thinking, which all too often is nothing more than lip service or an illusion.

There is a need to tip our hat to the past, to acknowledge it and understand how it influences us today; there is a need to understand the problems of today; but there is also a need to understand how our actions today create the future. Too often we get bogged down in solutions for the past, framed in the here and now; we look back and create a solution for something that has already happened. What happens if we start with the here and now and look to the future? Why will KM exist?

My opinion on “why KM exists” and “what the future holds” is set out across this blog. I want to hear your opinions, why does knowledge management exist in the first place?

Leading for the futureK3-Cubed Blog offer 1

  • http://batman-news.com kenniswerker

    Because knowledge is power, and our society model is still based on the distribution of power. When, in view of worldwide shortages and changing distribution systems, we will accept and move to a new model of sharing, knowledge will be the new currency we exchange. This will empower the individual, appeal to our natural inclination to help each other and make us responsible for our environment.

  • http://blog.tarn.org/ Mark Gould

    I take the view that organisational knowledge management has become necessary because of the way that organisations have developed and especially because of the ways that they use technology.

    Technology (from mass production onwards) has allowed organisations to become massive and widely distributed. Size and spread lead to people being disconnected from each other, and that introduces inefficiencies. They can’t learn from each other as well as was possible when apprentices worked alongside master craftsmen. Many examples of good KM are technology-enabled rediscoveries of well-tested ways of working.

    I keep coming back to an analogy with farming. A well-run farm needs constant attention. Plants might grow and animals might breed without management, but they will do so inefficiently. With careful management of things like breeding cycles, fertilisation, sowing, harvesting, and so on, the farmer can extract maximum value from the land. Good KM creates an environment in which organisations can extract maximum value from the knowledge of their employees.

  • http://veejime.tumblr.com/ ID84INOV8ON

    Why does KM exist?

    I’ve asked myself this question many times and I am still searching for an answer that I can accept fully and consider appropriate. I think I struggle with answering this because KM means different things to different people. Looking back, I’ve found myself coming back to some of the same areas. I’ve tried to describe these areas below:

    First, I think KM attracts certain people because it gives them a different way to solve problems. For some, KM is a helpful way to look at a situation and a way to make sense of how to make a particular decision. It is useful to decide what is important and what is not for a given situation.

    For others I think KM is a treated more like a method that helps to expand their understanding. Instead of treating KM as a “tool” to be used for decision-making, I think some people are just naturally curious and always want to know more. Like a young child continually asking “Why?” in an attempt to understand the true nature of whatever the current subject of discussion may be. So a method which helps one find greater context on a subject fills that need.

    An alternative reason why I think a KM exists has to do with the existence of the community that is necessary to sustain it. I see examples of KM initiatives in organizations as evidence that some people seem to be reaching out to connect with others. Why reach out? Sometimes just connecting is the goal and the revelations that follow result from the natural and sustained interactions between those who find a commonality. Sometimes I feel some organizations create their KM culture to justify their own past decisions and to turn practice into procedure. Other times I feel some organizations actually have an interest in furthering understanding about a particular topic or domain, yet they understand that the more people that contribute the more progress they will achieve.

    Whatever the reason for whoever is practicing what we call KM, the difference in why it exists has to do with the individual’s application of the knowledge they hope to obtain from engaging. Again, I do not have much of an answer to contribute but I think some truths lie within these ways of looking at the reason why KM exists.

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