E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

Knowledge Management Redux – Linking KM and Social Software

Earlier on today I read through another interesting, and thought provoking, weblog post over at Knowledge Jolt with Jack titled Link between KM and Social Software, which in return referenced another great, worth while reading, weblog post by Mike Gotta: Social Software: Knowledge Management Redux? In that particular weblog post Jack comes to augment what Mike is already stating over at his weblog with some additional commentary and something that I have been commenting all along over here: Knowledge Management is all about the people, about making it easier for knowledge workers to share what they know so that it could then be easily reused by others.

However, and while I certainly agree with what Jack mentioned over at his weblog, I also think that it would be worth while stopping a few more minutes and share some gems that Mike has been sharing over at Social Software: Knowledge Management Redux? I wish that particular weblog post would have been available a few years ago to show them where the focus should have been in KM from the moment it was born. Here you have got some interesting quotes from the article itself:

KM generally fails when it is pursued as a holy grail, in and of itself, and especially when it over-prioritizes technology.

If only people would have realised about this years ago ! Right from the beginning, people thought that everything could fall under the ever growing KM umbrella where the main focus was on the technology, on the tools themselves, i.e. the explicit knowledge. That might have worked out all right for a couple of years but there was a huge void been created by neglecting the power knowledge workers would have by making use of their tacit knowledge while collaborating with others. Yet, nobody seemed to care too much about it, and probably because of what Mike mentioned already. KM was considered the holy grail from every organisation interested in knowledge sharing and collaboration. Things could have been just so much more different! Sigh

The focus on interaction, trust, reciprocity, conversation and storytelling is also the point where social software reframes some of the challenges faced by KM teams, offering a different set of tactics complimentary to historical KM best practices.

I couldn’t have agreed more with Mike on that statement. All those focus areas that he mentioned are, whether we like it or not, very much related to the tacit knowledge exchange that I mentioned earlier on, and which would be a key fundamental success factor for any KM strategy because the focus is right there where it belongs: the people. So a balance between both approaches could certainly provide that unique advantage that differentiates a successful KM strategy from another one that is just attempting to achieve something in between. And this is perhaps where all the hype going around Web 2.0 offerings, the so-called social software, could come to the rescue as it could well be the perfect enabler to strike that balance between the two.

In any case, the unforeseen discovery of peers doing similar things that result in purposeful action as a derivative outcome of informal interaction across small groups, larger communities and loosely-coupled networks makes social software quite consistent with KM goals […]”

Indeed, the well known, and greatly ignored, power of social capital skills. How many times have we been told that trying to nurture and look after those social capital skills would be a waste of time and will not help produce the desired business results in whatever the KM strategy put together? How many times management has been neglecting the key role that those social capital skills play in the well building and further development of a group, whether it is a community or a team? You name it. Yet it looks like it is just now that those same managers are realising that perhaps cultivating and nurturing, as well as augmenting, that social capital will help KM get back in track into what it once was supposed to be: an almost perfect blend of people and tools, i.e. tacit and explicit knowledge. About time you would think, right ? I surely think so !

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