In David Gurteen's latest Knowledge Letter, he points people to the KMEurope website, where they have interviews with their keynote speakers. All are excellent reads. Note that these may disappear after the event in Amsterdam on 10-12 November 2003. (Anyone want to pay for me to go?)
Dorothy Leonard of the Harvard Business School talks about her interest in innovation and how people and organizations learn and grow, even under difficult circumstances, such as the dotcom burst or poor infrastucture for knowledge transfer in non-first-world cultures. She also describes work on a new book with Walter Swap on innovation and knowledge, particularly interested in the issues of knowledge retention and knowledge acquisition.
David Snowden of
IBM's Cynefin Center The Cynefin Centre, never shy about his opinion, gives a few quick thoughts about the current direction of KM. "We are coming out of that period now in two ways (both of which I think are wrong): the techno-fetishists who still think that their technology can do everything, and the new-age fluffy bunnies who are too anti-technology. Both groups are loosing their connection with reality in different ways." David would rather see people talking about the appropriate balance, where we use the technology if it fits the problem, not changing the problem to fit the technology. (With another great analogy that I will leave to the reader.)
Carla O'Dell's interview covers her history as the president of APQC and the conferences/consortiums they have devoted to knowledge management since 1995. Their most recent work has looked at return on investment for KM, and she thinks the problem is not as difficult as others claim. "[T]he key to identifying the effects of knowledge management lies in starting with a business's desired outcome and working back from there."
Well-regarded knowledge management consultant, Verna Allee describes her start in KM as coming from the systems thinking world. She is now the lead of her own consultancy. She is primarily interested in how organizations get value out of knowledge and related intangibles, helping them identify those structures and processes that use knowledge. She is also involved with governmental groups, attempting to move KM thinking into the society. The language she uses is quite similar to that of Debra Amidon's Innovation Superhighway initiative.
Finally, the interview with Fons Trompenaars (Trompenaars Hampden-Turner) describes his deep interest in how culture plays a role in KM. He starts with a novel view of the data-information-knowledge hierarchy: "When you structure knowledge it becomes science." Interestingly, he goes on to say, "It is the process of structuring that adds meaning. And since different cultures have different ways of structuring meaning, you can see that, by definition, knowledge management is a cultural construct." The meat of the interview describes Trompenaars' five dilemmas of knowledge management with a very interesting view to cultural issues.
- universal vs. particular
- individual vs. team
- specific and codified vs. diffuse and implicit
- internal vs. external control
- top down vs. bottum up