Martin’s Musings: Emergence

eccentric interests!

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Knowledge Management is an Oxymoron

I am looking forward to some rousing discussions on culture, knowledge creation, systems thinking and change in organizations. Here are some thoughts to get the ball rolling.

You can manage databases, but you cannot manage knowledge.

Management suggests scarcity or control. This is the antithesis of knowledge creation or understanding. Management of something suggests that it is coming in pre-digested chunks. New ideas are often not fully understandable. One must create an environment where information that comes through is acceptable to what people think is useful in their own context. And should be understandable well enough that ideas can be saved until they are used or discarded.

Is it good knowledge (something that you can use) or bad knowledge (something that while it might be a good idea is not useful to you or your organization and may derail you)?

An idea, no matter how good it is, must further your goals or it is not useful. It will only get in the way. If you save every bit of knowledge, you just have more to sift through to find something useful. If you saved every piece of paper that came across your desk you would soon never be able to get out of your office. It is the same with knowledge. There are plenty of great ideas that are simply not useful to you.

There is a mindshift that must take place for people to make the most of the knowledge that they are creating in their organizations. Knowledge comes out of an abundance mentality, the more knowledge creation going on, the more knowledge is created. The more that is created, and the more useful it is, the more important that it is to you and your organization.

A better metaphor when discussing knowledge creation is the idea of harnessing or harvesting knowledge. When harnessing something, you are often trying to redirect the energy of something more powerful than yourself towards the achievement of a goal such as harnessing a horse for transportation or farm work. The harvesting metaphor can also work here. You can take an idea and refine it for use in the organization without killing the knowledge creation activity.

Some questions to ponder:
Is there such a thing as bad knowledge?
What are the essential components to a good environment?
Can you manage knowledge?
What are the tools needed to harnessing?

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February 13, 2002 - Posted by | Random Thoughts

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