Knowledge Management

Why bother?

Without repeating the usual mantras in praise of the Knowledge Economy, there are two primary business drivers for Knowledge Management:

Raising the Floor is about getting all parts of an organisation performing at the level of the best - so here the focus is on sharing and implementing what is already known

Raising the Ceiling is about raising the game of the organisation as a whole, so focuses on innovation and knowledge creation.

What is it?

We start from the premise that Knowledge is in people, not machines. Machines are great at managing Information, and that's a vital part of what organisations need to do, but it only has a supporting role in Knowledge Management.

David Snowden says

"We know more than we can say, and we can say more than we can write down".

which is why we believe that the richest knowledge exchange happens when people talk face to face.

How to go about it?

We can't manage what happens in people's heads, so our view is that the proper focus of Knowledge Management is to provide the right environment for people to do their thing - develop shared understanding and meaning that enables effective action. It's always context-dependant, so there are no simple 'how-to' prescriptions.

Issues in Knowledge Management often have characteristics of Wicked Problems - that is,

  • They are imprecisely defined
  • There's no simple way to tell if a 'solution' has worked - and developing a solution changes your understanding of the problem
  • Every problem is unique, and needs to be understood uniquely within its context and environment.
  • Every Stakeholder will have differing opinions as to causes, consequences of solutions and what solutions 'satisfice' - i.e. are 'Good Enough'

This makes developing appropriate interventions an iterative process that depends crucially on understanding the environment in which they will be implemented.