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

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APQC KM & Innovation 1007 – The Disconnect between KM 1.0 and KM 2.0

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As you may remember from a recent weblog post I created over here a few weeks ago, this week I am actually away from the office attending the APQC Knowledge Management and Innovation conference event. And although the event does not really start till Thursday this week I am actually over here attending a number of different Knowledge Management related training courses. Today has been the first day, out of two, for the first training I am attending after yesterday’s exhausting 25 hour transit plane trip! Something that I certainly wouldn’t recommend to anyone. Too much of a long trip, with too many stops and still recovering a bit from it. However, when I get back it will be worse, but we shall see about that one later on next week.

For now I am going to share some further thoughts around the first day of the training I was attending around the subject of Knowledge Management: Strategies and Tactics for Business Results. There are lots and lots of thoughts that have been crossing my mind during the course of the day itself, but since we actually had a fully packed agenda and very little time for live con-blogging, here is a quick review of my initial thoughts about the overall course. I have got plenty of notes jotted down with the materials we were all given, but I got those locked in the training room and forgot to bring them back to the room with me (Doh!), so you would have to wait for those for a later time. But they will come, not to worry.

However, if I were to describe with a single sentence the first day of the two day training we have done on Knowledge Management: Strategies and Tactics for Business Results it would be something along the lines of indicating how the session was incredibly beneficial for everyone out there who would want to see the state of Knowledge Management, but back in the late 90s. Yes, that is right. This is a two day course specially meant for those folks who would want to know how KM got done during the course of the late 90s and how, by the looks of it, there are still plenty of organisations out there who get to use most of that stuff.

In the training room we were 44 people, out of which 6 were outside of North America, one from Africa, one from the Middle East, and then another three from Europe, which got me thinking about how global KM has become, or rather, hasn’t. I was certainly expecting a whole lot more participation from Asia and Asia Pacific where specially some of the top KM innovation companies for the last few years are based in that region, yet no-one that I could find out was coming from there.

Perhaps an initial indication of something else that I have noticed myself and which I will mentioned shortly. But first I should probably mention how helpful the overall course may well be for those folks out there who would want to take KM back to the late 90s with something so controversial as placing the focus on something that, for quite a few people, was actually the worst thing that could have happened to KM: yes, indeed, the processes and the tools! Now, how many times have we seen this? I am not sure about you, but when I actually went through the first day (Perhaps tomorrow it will change) I had the strong sense that I was going through a history lesson on KM from the very first few years I got involved with KM itself (Talking here about 1996, till 1999).

I mean, the course itself would be very handy for all those folks who would want to have a very solid base as to what happened with KM throughout the years, what worked and, most importantly, what didn’t. To me it was a trip down the memory lane. But with a twist. A twist that is perhaps an indication of a recent set of events I have witnessed elsewhere where I am starting to feel like there is this huge and massive disconnect between what we would call traditional Knowledge Management and next generation of Knowledge Management, or, easier to remember, KM 1.0 vs. KM 2.0 and which very few people want to acknowledge at this stage.

Here is an example, of the 44 people who were attending the training session I was at as well, in between breaks and networking events, I tried to find out if there would be anyone out there from the list who would have been exposed to social computing, or KM 2.0, or not. And to my astonishment, I couldn’t. At least, I haven’t been able to find anyone thus far. In fact, when I checked the list of attendees I just couldn’t find anyone coming from that strong social computing background I was hoping for. Yes, bringing the best of social networking on to the table as well, since it is also part of the equation. Well, it just didn’t happen.

From all of that, I guess I got a strong confirmation that people doing work related to social computing are not very much interested in Knowledge Management, in general. In fact, I would venture to say that for them it is a dirty word still. And vice versa, people who still want to keep things very much like KM 1.0 are not interested in hearing some more about social software and the impact that is having within the corporate world empowering knowledge workers to share their knowledge and collaborate a lot easier and with a whole lot less hassle. Ouch! Yes, that is what I meant with a massive disconnect. And it is not a good thing.

It is not a good thing because we all know that focusing on just the tools or the processes might have been something that succeeded back in the late 90s, but not nowadays. Today the focus is pretty much around the subject of people and their own user-generated content, which, I must say, is also part of the equation, but not the overall picture either, because it would just focus on the people themselves forgetting a bit about processes and tools. And, like we all know, a successful KM strategy is one that combines into a perfect balance a focus on the people, on the tools and on the processes.

And so far, from what I have experienced today in this training course, that doesn’t seem to be happening. At least, not yet. It may take a few years before that happens, but somehow I have a strong feeling that knowledge workers are not going to wait that long. Their needs and their requirements are different and things change. And rather quick! KM 1.0, unfortunately, is very much stuck with keeping itself closer, from a traditional point of view, in focusing too much on the processes and tools aspects, respectively. I have actually been able to describe some of that through a good number of twitterings I have put together earlier on today. And, certainly, that was the main conclusion that I got from the first day at the APQC KM & Innovation event training course.

It is a long long way ahead to put together both KM 1.0 and KM 2.0 into a single unified knowledge sharing environment where everyone would be happy making use of it as something BAU and fully embedded into the current set of activities that each project has been working on already. And the fight is equally exciting, both from the perspective of promoting social computing within the more traditional KM and thinking of ways on how that traditional KM could adopt certain social software elements to help knowledge workers work smarter, and not necessarily harder.

As I said, I have got a few more notes that I have put together in my notepad to complete some of my thoughts shared above, but unfortunately, you would have to wait for that for a little while. Or alternatively, you can also watch my twitterings about this very same thing. And, finally, here is another huge massive disconnect between KM 1.0 and KM 2.0 that I have been exposed to and which I surely did not expect. And that is the fact that from the very first beginning I had the intention of sharing the content of the presentations I would be attending during the course of the week, elsewhere in both of my weblogs and Slideshare.net, perhaps. However, it looks like that is not going to happen, because all of the materials that we have received already are all print-outs and therefore extremely difficult to pass on and share it with wider audiences, whether they are your teams or communities or whatever else. So I will not be able to share some slides; yes, I know, a real pity, but it makes me wonder why a Knowledge Management organisation, very much involved into KM as a BAU process, does not take a bit more of a proactive approach into helping spread the message around Knowledge Sharing and allowing attendees to share those materials with the right audience, at the right time, at the right place / context. Go figure!

It sounds as if they would want to hide their knowledge from others, because they just may benefit from it, and they may not want to do that, but, again, is it really Knowledge Management what we are talking about in here then? Or is it more still along the lines of Knowledge Is Power vs. Knowledge Shared is Power? A huge disappointment, if you ask me, but a clear indication that we may not have progressed much from the state of KM coming from the late 90s. And this is probably a very good reason why we should still keep up with the fight and show everyone there are better ways of managing your own knowledge while sharing it with other knowledge workers across the board. Thus we shall see what day 2 of the training course will bring to us. It surely looks like it is going to be an interesting follow up from today. You see, so far, just checked Technorati and not a single mention of the APQC training courses and KM & Innovation event taking place later on this week. So I am going to tag this first initial post with APQC2007 and follow up from there.


Oh, two other things about the event so far. The hotel where we are is just wonderful! Free Ethernet and Wireless access in a charming place with some incredible surroundings and all the peace and quiet you can imagine. And if you ever fancy going for a good meal check out Americas. You will like it. I surely did and certainly enjoyed my Caipirinha and my Medallón :-))) (Pity I couldn’t get anymore in and try out some of those lovely deserts! I guess next time!)

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4 comments

  1. Thanks Luis. I am virtually (although partially) visiting the conference through your ‘blogeyes’. I was planning to attend but due to technical reasons I am missing this event.

    I am sharing your surprise moments of knowing the fact that the participants are not aware of the social computing. Or those who are aware did not participate. Perhaps, the full blown conference experience awaiting pleasant information in this aspect.

    Cheers!!!

  2. In a way its not surprising – I had a similar experience at an intranet conference a few years ago. More recently I’ve run a series of Knowledge Management masterclasses in Singapore, and one of issues I like to cover is what I call a brief history of KM to cover the past and then bring people up to speed with next generation knowledge management. Many people – particularly those from an IT background tasked with “doing some KM” – often enter with 1990’s KM point of view. I see its my role to introduce them to what has been happening in the space and challenge their thinking a little. However, I should say that the half-day of the masterclass we then spend on social software etc is one of the highlights. I hope day 2 gets a bit more interesting for you! BTW I do share all my materials with participants – its just content afterall…

  3. Hi folks! Thanks very much for dropping by and for the feedback comments thus far. Greatly appreciated! Let’s see if I can comment quickly before the second day of training starts.

    Raju, I am glad you are finding the weblog post(s) interesting and good read to give you an update on the outcome of the event itself, although this is something like the pre-event, I would say. I must say that I surely was surprised when talking to a few folks about the concept of social computing and having a hard time to explain what it was. Not even under the terms of social software, social networking, social media or new media. Quite interesting. In fact, I already "scheduled" some time with a couple of folks to actually show them some of the tools that I have been exposed to and which they wanted to hear some more and see how they would be able to apply them to the business, which was something really nice. At least, there is some openness about the whole thing.

    What I am finding surprising those is the fact that this KM training course is not putting together information related to how social computing is impacting KM at the moment and, how whenever you would want to set up a KM program most of the aspects that have made social computing successful have been completely ignored. I am not sure why, but we are just not getting the whole picture and I am concerned because most of these folks are all knowledge managers for various different organisations and I am thinking that if they themselves don’t get exposed to social software how are they supposed to bring that to their own businesses?!?! That is why I am hoping that during the course of the week this may change, because otherwise it would feel as if I have just been to a history lesson on KM about how things have been some time now. Certainly, not a reflection of what is happening in the current market at the moment.

    James, appreciated the feedback comments, too! I surely would hope so that the people organising this event would be following your advice greatly, because you surely offer exactly what I was expecting from such event. A mix of what KM used to be with an introduction and thorough discussions of what is actually currently happening at the moment within the KM space around the subject of social computing. Ignoring it, like it seems to be at the moment, is not going to do any good to it, specially from an adoption perspective. So I am hoping that, indeed, the rest of the week picks up, because otherwise I am not sure it would have been as beneficial as I would have thought it would be.

    I am really glad to hear though that there are some folks out there, i.e. yourself, willing to spend some time on the history of KM and where we all come from, but also the new aspects of KM taking place at the moment with social networking. A combination of the two is what is certainly going to get people up to speed with a successful KM program, so I am glad there are some folks providing those insights, because the more, the merrier. And boy, am I happy to hear you are sharing all of that content online with the participants! I wish other folks would follow that! Otherwise what is the point of attending a conference like this if you then cannot share it with a wider audience all all over the place, which is the current workplace environment at the moment. So, a big thumbs up for you on that one, James, and look forward to the opportunity of being able to meet up face to face some time.

    Thanks again, folks, for the extensive feedback!

  4. Thanks for your insights on this Luis. Based on what you are saying, it sounds like something called KM 2.0 may not really exist, if this conference is any guide. Maybe KM was an idea that has come and gone or – more likely- morphed into something so different that calling it “KM” or “KM 2.0” just tends to bring up old biases and impressions from decades past.

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