Monday, February 20, 2006

Knowledge creation - both systemic and systematic

Last week I worked on two KM strategies - one which was leading with a systemic approach to knowledge creation, and the other was leading with a systematic approach.

I realised that wherever possible we should incorporate both approaches if we wish to optimise knowledge creation, but one approach should 'lead' according to the nature and type of the knowledge being created.

In an organisation that is concerned with compliance, security, safety (especially human safety), unique positioning and reputation, a continuous and systematic approach and robust processes, with critical peer and professional expert review at key stages, may well be required. They will also probably seek proprietary software development and support. Knowledge creation is internalised.

In an organisation that does not have these considerations or constraints, it can also take full advantage of the radically new ways of creating and organising human knowledge through open, democratic, global, self directing and self regulating knowledge leveraging, using internet enabled wikis etc, probably using open source software technologies. Knowledge creation is externalised.

There will be situations where both approaches can be applied together.

So I am reminded that KM is far more dependant on the nature, type and application of desired knowledge in an organisation, than the methods and tools to support it?

That's back to strategy!

KM Open Source Methodology at
KM Consulting at

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Knowledge Management and spontaneous flow

When conducting KM consulting engagements, I have to constantly remind myself of the enormous power of spontaneous knowledge flow!

I certainly enjoy helping organizations better understand and implement, with great benefit, more collective and systematic processes to capture, create, share and apply best knowledge. It really can make a great difference to business improvement and performance.

But we must never forget the spontaneity and creativity, and to my mind the reality, of working in environments where 'what we don't know' is, and always will be, far far greater that 'what we know'.

Communities of practice, passion and interest; thematic knowledge networks, and even small ad hoc incidental and/or accidental encounters and meetings are constant daily witnesses to more natural and spontaneous knowledge flows.

You might say that to optimise knowledge in an organisation that we need to constantly blend a more systematic approach to knowledge abstraction with a more unsystematic approach to knowledge flow?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Knowledge - what, where, when, why, how, who

Often in my KM consulting activities, especially in interviewing and workshop sessions, I am reminded of the wisdom of Rudyard Kipling, the British author and poet (1865-1936), in his poem 'The Elephants Child':

"I have six honest serving men
They taught me all I knew
Their names were what and where and when
And why and how and who"

Perhaps, this is knowledge gapping at its best?

Ron Young

Open Source KM Consulting Methodology at:

KM Consulting at:

Applying the best knowledge - the weakest link!

Many organisations are now much better at capturing, in a more consistent, collective and systematic way, new learnings and ideas 'as they occur'.

Many organisations are starting to get better at amplifying these new learnings, ideas and insights by enabling people to contribute their new 'learnings about these learnings', 'ideas about these ideas' and even 'insights about these insights' - very powerful amplification.

Many organisations are getting better at surfacing valuable knowledge and sharing it through various forms of knowledge networks, teams and communities - formal and informal, spontaneous and systematic.

This is great but it is only one side of the coin. The creation of new knowledge.

What I find to be the weakest link is the other side of the coin - the application of the best knowledge, once it has been created and shared!

You might say the wise application of knowledge!

Do you agree?

Ron Young

Open Source KM Consulting Methodology at:

KM Consulting at:

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Time, Process, Quality and Knowledge!

I was taught that there are some timeless management perennials, way beyond the fads, and that every leader and manager should ask :

For how long are we interested in

- improving our creation and application of knowledge?
- better managing our time?
- improving our quality?
- developing better relationships?
- increasing our productivity?

The answer of course is for ever.

Yet people have often said to me 'I went on a time management course twenty years ago' and
'we did process reengineering ten years ago' and 'quality management five years ago' and we did 'knowledge management two years ago'.

Yet, respectfully, I have concluded that in this age of a global twenty four hour day we are finding it even more challenging to manage our time , tasks, projects, processes, people, information and knowledge than ever before! Respectfully, I suggest that we have only just started to understand how to become effective virtual teams and knowledge workers .

The continually emerging knowledge technologies will always provide us with a tremendous new potential to better communicate, collaborate, learn, share and apply our knowledge, but we need to know how to redesign our work and how to use these tools.

But, more importantly, we need to understand and wisely apply the timeless principles behind the processes, methods and tools.

Knowledge is a timeless perennial for management and, for me, Knowledge Management is the warm up act for the main act yet to come. What will we call this one?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

The Future of Knowledge Management

In 1999 I published an article for the European American Business Journal entitled the 'Future of Knowledge Management'.

What was poignant for me, at the time, was "will the good and extraordinary work that is going on in knowledge management show results quickly enough to convince the critical mass of organisations that they must urgently pursue this, or will the massive and mediocre bandwagon ultimately convince organisations that knowledge management is nothing too special, and relegate it to 'yet another initiative?. Are we likely to throw the baby out with the bathwater?"

I also felt compelled to write that "there will be several fragmented schools of knowledge management, each with their own approach, philosophy, methods and tools. The 'human factor' school is still fighting it out for supremacy over the 'technology factor' school. The philosophers and academics will continue to have their say about what knowledge management is.

Reason suggests that they should fuse and integrate their different and equally important perspectives into one holistic framework. Reality suggests that different schools will wish to become dominant."

Where do you think we are today in 2006?
Will the good work that is still being done ultimately create the critical mass that is still needed?

I have, since writing the article, developed my thinking further. I now believe the time is absolutely right for an 'Open Source KM Methodology' to capitalise on the good thinking that has been done in the past as a basis, and more importantly, to see exponential improvements gained from an 'open' km community as opposed to gradual linear improvements gained from a small 'closed' proprietary system.

Hence our decision for Knowledge Associates to donate our KM consulting methodology to the Open Source community at

No doubt there will be more challenges of a different nature, but I sincerely believe this type of initiative is needed for the 'Future of Knowledge Management'.

(the full article is available at

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