There are a lot of interesting conversations happening recently about knowledge management and the value of knowledge sharing or knowledge collecting and what it all means. Surprisingly, one of the sources has been a long discussion on a LinkedIn group, If the term KM could get a do-over what would you call the discipline? The question was asked two months ago and is going strong with over 200 comments.
Fortunately, Mark Gould has given this one a little more pondering and brought in a few other threads too in What do we do with knowledge? I like where he goes with the discussion:
The key thing in all of this, for me, is that whether we talk of knowledge sharing, transfer, or management, it only has value if it can result in action: new knowledge generation; new products; ideas; thoughts. But I think that action is more likely if we are open-minded about where it might arise. If we try and predict where it may be, and from which interactions it might come, I think it is most probable that no useful action and value will result in the long term.
Exactly! We don't want to do knowledge management simply because we need to "know what we know." It's more important that we actually do something with the stuff that we know. Whether that works out to be an individual taking action, based on what they have learned, or a group of people doing something they wouldn't have done without a "best practice" or a "before action review" or talking to their colleagues.
And this connects to a couple other pieces. One is the Harvard Business IdeaCast podcast from this week on Using Checklists to Prevent Failure with Dr. Atul Gawande, author of The Checklist Manifesto. As I was listening, the key thing I heard was that checklists can be a great method of translating on-the-ground knowledge into something useful for the larger organization. Of course, they have to be done well, and the process has to be flexible (not rigid) as they discussed in the podcast.
And this relates, at least for me, to the whole idea of personal knowledge management. Harold Jarche writes about the topic in PKM: aggregate, filter, connect and makes connections to some other articles as well. The personal aspect to knowledge management is all about processing all this stuff - internal and external, often many times - and doing something useful with it. He talks about PKM being about those three verbs: aggregate, filter, connect. And for me, all of those things serve a purpose: help me learn and do things I wouldn't necessarily be able to do otherwise.
Other links in this discussion include Ross Dawson's comments about PKM being all about enhanced serendipity or Richard Veryard on defining what exactly "sharing" is with respect to knowledge sharing in When does Communication count as Knowledge Sharing? (I've also been enjoying Richard's blogging in general since I found him in the last few months.)
[Photo: "U N ( R E A L ) beauty" by d ha rm e sh]