Friday, October 07, 2011

How Steve Jobs inspired me to start working with his vision of knowledge management in 1987

Steve Jobs 1955 - 2011

It was Steve Jobs who greatly inspired me in 1987/8 to start working with his vision in the practice of knowledge management.

Five years later, based on his vision, I founded Knowledge Associates in Cambridge UK. Today, I travel the world constantly teaching organizations ways that Steve Jobs could see in the late 1980's for people to work with information, learning and knowledge in radically new ways globally.

My business involvement with Apple, and Steve Jobs inspiration actually started in 1982 when my software company at the time, Systematics International Microsystems Ltd, was inspired to develop for Apple 'Apple Accounting' on the remarkable and radical Macintosh.

But in 1987, under Steve Jobs inspiration, Apple produced a video vision for the future called 'The Apple Knowledge Navigator' and, even at that time, he saw the prototype of what we now call the iPad. Twenty years later, that part of his vision became a reality.

But for me, he really inspired me the most through his further vision in this remarkable video, to link all the Universities together across the world, with key people communicating, collaborating, learning, sharing and applying knowledge together.

He had a vision for individuals, teams, organizations and communities to be able to practice knowledge management globally through the use of remarkable new mobile information and communication tools.

Ever since then I have been trying, with difficulty, to turn that part of his vision into reality.

What is remarkable for me, is that although KM practitioners had developed some exciting new KM theories, strategies and processes over the years, we never really had the simple to use, and powerful tools needed to support the theory. Then came Web 2.0 social tools in 2004 and, eventually, the iPhone and, especially, the iPad appeared to support knowledge workers in radically new, intuitive, and powerful ways.

So our challenge now is to show organizations how they can use these mobile and web based tools in the way Steve Jobs predicted.

I am currently working and writing this blog post from Singapore and I first heard the breaking news of Steve Jobs death in the morning coffee break yesterday, for the course I am running for the National Institute of Education at the Nanyang University Campus.

We were actually working at that time on the module that discusses the best practical tools to help individuals and teams practice personal and team knowledge management. We were discussing the use of the iPhone and iPad to tweet, blog, work with wiki's, work in social networks, web telephony and video.

I then felt compelled to play to the group the 'Apple Knowledge Navigator 1987' video on youtube. I am so glad this video is still available on the web today.

I would urge you to watch this 24 year old video and reflect on the accomplishments of Apple since.

Steve Jobs was a genius visionary and such an inspirational leader, within Apple, and to so many successful companies in silicon valley, and to so many people around the world.

Ron Young

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