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

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APQC KM & Innovation 2007 – Knowledge Management: Strategies and Tactics for Business Results

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Phew! What an incredible week last week, folks! As you may have noticed I didn’t have a chance to share any further insights (Other than the initial first day weblog post) regarding the 2007 APQC KM & Innovation event that I was attending and which overall I have enjoyed it quite a bit, specially the two day event, towards the end of the week! So much so that, with all of the different networking opportunities I have been exposed to over the whole period, I have been neglecting posting several different weblog entries over here that I have got already in my drafts. But that is just going to end today. I just got back from Houston, earlier on this afternoon.

I was thinking about sharing some of those all along last week, but one thing led to another and before you knew it I had pretty much the entire day booked with some exciting conversations. So in the spirit of capturing some of those different conversations the following series of weblog posts are going to be dedicated to the APQC 2007 KM & Innovation event and my take from it. I also realise that plenty of folks have been sharing different comments in multiple entries and I do really appreciate that, too! Allow me to address each of them as well over the course of the next few days so that we can keep those conversations going. As you can see, I haven’t neglected those. Things have just been way too busy and I am really excited that they have been like that, because I have been able to make some really good and incredible connections. But let’s just go one step at a time.

To get it going, I am going to pick things up again from the last weblog article I created on the subject of attending the different APQC KM trainings for the first three days of the week.So here is a second entry on the subject. As I am getting to proof read it from my drafts, I must say that it does look like it is going to be a lengthy post, so I would probably suggest at this stage that you get up and make yourself a cup of coffee (Or tea) and enjoy it, because it will surely keep you reading for a little while.

As you would be able to see, all of these musings are my very own and although I will not be able to share any of the content made available through the print-outs, as there are some license fees to cover for, I will surely be going ahead and share some concrete items from the various materials we were provided with. Thus here it goes.

This particular weblog entry is the follow up from a previous post where I tried to share some further comments regarding the subject of the initial two day Knowledge Management training that I attended around the subject of Knowledge Management: Strategies and Tactics for Business Results. And along those same lines, I was hoping to be able to share that follow up as it would have been fresh and everything, but I guess that networking had a price attached to it as well. Yes, I know, hanging out at the bar, drinking a few beers while playing Puerto Rico can do that to you! And so much more!

So here I am sharing this particular weblog post after a few days have gone by and still immersed with the same feeling as I left the first day training. Even though a few days have gone by and I have had a chance to think about the event itself I still feel that those two days of KM training are actually providing some good ground for that KM disconnect that I have mentioned in the past. Don’t take me wrong, the course was fantastic and I really appreciate the trip down the memory lane, but that is exactly what it was: a reflection of what KM used to be in the 90s! However, disappointed that none of the new trends in Knowledge Management, specially with the emergence of social computing, were added into the mix while we were given a wrong impression of what is actually happening in this space at the moment.

One of the great things from the conference was the fact that there were plenty of folks who were relatively new to KM altogether, so it was a good opportunity for them to leverage what they have been doing already with some of the most experienced folks and somehow I felt throughout the training courses how we have actually lost a great opportunity to help those newcomers into KM avoid the very same mistakes that we made back in the 90s. Things have moved quite a bit since then and perhaps those different changes should have been incorporated already to provide a much more meaningful description of what is going on at the moment. Alas, it didn’t happen and, like I said, a missed opportunity to get things right from the very beginning. But there was hope, not to worry, although I will cover that one in another upcoming weblog post. Two, actually. Stay tuned!

Thus to comment further on that particular disconnect between KM 1.0 and KM 2.0 here are some thoughts I put together in my drafts just as I was attending the second day of training around the subject of Knowledge Management: Strategies and Tactics for Business Results and which I think would be making a nice connection to some of the thoughts I have shared already in the past.

Always on-line versus offline interactions: Yes, indeed, this is one of the things that I have noticed myself during the course of the event itself, including the training days. I was actually very surprised that throughout the event there weren’t many computers up and running with plenty of people making notes about the different sessions and discussions. Instead, most of us got to use a piece of paper and a pen to capture some of the different thoughts. If you check it out, there haven’t been many weblog entries posted thus far. Can you imagine seeing some of that in any of the different social computing events going on at the moment? I doubt it. It just doesn’t happen. So, in a way, I felt a bit intimidated that I would be probably one of the very very few with a computer trying to do some live con-blogging or, even, live twitterings. It just didn’t happen. A pity.

And I am saying that this was a missed opportunity, because it would have been the perfect event to share some further insights around the subject of KM sharing it all over the place with everyone out there who may be interested. Instead, we all got to jot down a few thoughts here and there in our notepads and, I am not sure what you would think about this, but I bet you all know where those notes are going to end up! Yes, exactly, rather in the trash can at some point or with your print-outs. Forever. Something that, again, I doubt it would ever happen in any of those different social computing conferences that we all have grown to become very used to.

Yes, certainly quite intimidating and interesting at the same time to see how all of that knowledge, experiences and further thoughts were stored locally, and without reaching further and beyond to whoever else may be interested in KM in general. Not sure what you would think, but that, to me, it sounds pretty much like good old KM 1.0. But you know what the funny part of it all was? Well, the instructor of the different educational sessions I attended did not say anything at all about not using the computers and, even more, there was FREE wireless connection throughout multiple rooms, including the lobby, with some really good speeds. Still not many online interactions…

To be honest, I would have liked seeing a whole bunch more of those KM folks venturing into the world of Internet blogs to share some of their insights with us and keep the conversations going during and after the event, because that is what will help fix the KM disconnect between KM 1.0 and KM 2.0 or, at least, start addressing some of the different issues. So to all of those folks who I have been talking to last week, and which I have mentioned how I was keeping myself busy with different blogs, here is an invitation for you to help address and fix some of that disconnect. Get started with your own blog today and get ready to continue the KM conversation(s)! We are really looking forward to them!

Knowledge Management versus grass-roots KM: One of the other things that I noticed as well was that most of the attendees to the different training sessions were identifying social computing as grass-roots KM, as opposed to just Knowledge Management, which is actually something that I have found interesting from the perspective that I have always thought that social computing has been, all along, an integral part of KM. And for a good number of years already! Remember what I have been saying all along over here all this time that a successful KM strategy is one that would combine, in a balanced way, People, Tools and Processes?

Well, that is where social computing has always been to me, perhaps a bit neglected or a bit in a dormant state, but certainly still very relevant all along. And yet I kept hearing all over the place how social networking is just still a grass-roots effort within KM to the point where there were some connotations that those grass-root efforts would take a few years before they will stick around. No, I actually do not think so. It’s already happening, folks! And big time! And whether you would want to join or not that would be another matter, but those grass-roots have been running for a good number of years already and I doubt they would be called grass-roots any longer today. Here is again that KM 1.0 vs. KM 2.0 disconnect.

We would probably need to issue a wake up call at this point in time, because whether we would like to admit it or not, knowledge workers are already embracing social computing tools to be able to share their knowledge and collaborate a lot easier with others. Thus I feel unless traditional KM doesn’t change its mind and starts engaging in the conversations we are going to have a serious problem. One, where, very shortly, we may not even talk about KM any longer. Perhaps that is incidentally one of the many reasons why knowledge workers have been having that negative connotation about Knowledge Management lately and why they keep on neglecting it in detriment of other terms like Knowledge Sharing, or Collaboration or, even, Social Computing itself. You name it!

I very much suspect that if Knowledge Management would want to come back into the spotlight it should stop making use of different terms like grass-roots for something that I doubt would be classified any longer as that, grass-roots, because more than anything else it has always been there. It is just now coming back placing the focus on where it should have been all along: the people! They would be the main pillar for this new wave of KM 2.0 interactions where they are already making extensive use of social software tools, in combination with a number of different processes and other traditional KM tools. And the blend is working, if you come to think how it is starting to impact the corporate world. There is, indeed, no way back! (At least, I wouldn’t want it!)

Finally, (I still hope that you are enjoying that cup of coffee or tea…) one of the other themes that I have seen throughout the first couple of days from the overall education sessions is the growing concern from KM 1.0 to be able to capture tacit knowledge, and failing to do so and not being able to come to terms with it. This is actually something that I will be touching base on in an upcoming weblog post regarding one of the different keynote sessions I attended which clearly has got a very good answer for this particular concern.

It surely is quite an exciting discussion, specially when most people do not realise that you will never be able to capture all of the tacit knowledge that a knowledge worker has got. You can certainly venture into capturing some of it, but not all of it. And the sooner we all get to acknowledge that, the better. But here is the thing: most folks are having serious issues about capturing that same tacit knowledge through the usage of traditional KM tools because of how difficult it actually is. No wonder. Of course, it is! And that is perhaps one of the main reasons why it has failed all along for a good number of years already! And still very much so.

You now may be wondering what you could do, right? Well, it may not be as difficult as whatever else you may have thought already. Yes, we may not be able to capture all of their tacit knowledge, but if there would be something very clear is that social computing does help quite a bit in this particular respect. By empowering knowledge workers to have their own blogs, wikis, social bookmarks, tagging, syndication of their favourite content, etc. etc. you would actually start capturing some of that same tacit knowledge I have been mentioning so far, specially with the overall usage of narrative and sensemaking. And in the end try you would all be in a much better position to integrate it all with already existing explicit knowledge repositories through the usage of meaningful and relevant search engines. And there you have it!: starting to combine the best of what KM 1.0 has got to offer with what KM 2.0 is already doing at the moment! Not a bad start, don’t you think?

And that would be it, folks, the time for the coffee or tea break is now over. These are some of the main thoughts that have gone through my mind in the first two days of training around the subject of "Knowledge Management: Strategies and Tactics for Business Results" and which, in my opinion, would start help fix some of that KM disconnect I discussed in a previous weblog entry. It may well not be the perfect approach to it all, but it would surely create the scenario to start the conversations(s) we are already missing at the moment, where the focus is coming back to where it should have been all along: empowering knowledge workers not only to share what they know with others, but also to allow them connect with one another in order to work smarter, without necessarily making it too harder, because that is what we are all after. I am sure. No doubt about it then. No doubt about it now.

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1 comment

  1. I would not worry too much about KM disappearing, but the fact that KM continues without a clear concept about what it is, and a framework that puts a path in front of you. About the apps coming out and labeled KM 2.0, they are based largely outside the corporate realm, so it does not apply to KM. KM is always inside an organization.

    Good job maintaining this site.

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