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 – Part Deux

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The following weblog post is actually a little bit more of the continuation from the one I shared yesterday around the subject of APQC KM & Innovation 2007 – Knowledge Management: Strategies and Tactics for Business Results where I am planning to cover as well some of the different thoughts and ideas I came across during the two days of training around Knowledge Management: Strategies and Tactics for Business Results. Again these are my own take on most of the things that got covered. So, hopefully, we can get the conversations going, although at the moment it kind of feels a bit lonely. We shall see how things will progress from here.

The first thought I would want to go cover, something that I have already mentioned and discussed on the first weblog post I created, has got to do with the subject of making the APQC KM & Innovation event a little bit more public than what was originally planned. Yes, that is right, for an event dealing with the subject of Knowledge Sharing and collaboration you would expect that it would be a bit more open about the sharing part. Yes, I do realise that the materials are licensed, at least, the ones from the training materials of the three days we covered initially, but then again, what is the point of doing a KM & Innovation event if you cannot share with others the different materials you get exposed to over the course of the days?

Yes, I know, you can see that is still bugging me and quite a bit! How can we go about promoting such KM events when we actually keep all of that information and knowledge from reaching wider audiences and get more conversations around this very same subject? Isn’t that what knowledge sharing is all about? I mean, I have yet to witness the first social computing event where they have used a similar attitude, and I bet some of the content is just as sensitive as whatever I may have gotten exposed to during the course of last week, but content still makes it to larger audiences, like it is always supposed to do, if you are really on to the knowledge sharing thing. Yet, it hasn’t happened.

Later on this week I will actually be creating a series of weblog posts detailing the different sessions I attended during the two day event, including the one I was co-presenting with some other folks. And my initial intention is to actually go ahead and share the slide deck as well. Yes, if I have got a good understanding of preaching what I talk regarding KM I guess that is the least I could well do, don’t you think? Let’s see how that will go. For the time being, here are some additional comments on some of the things that I found worth while commenting on.

Top to bottom Knowledge Management: One of the recurring ideas behind the first two days of the KM training I attended had to do with embracing a more formal approach, top-to-bottom, regarding the adoption (Or push, I probably could say better) of Knowledge Management. Yes, indeed, traditional KM at its best, where everything around KM seems to delve around the subject of management using a top-down approach to push KM down to the practitioners through, of course, a whole bunch of complex processes that hardly anyone cares about, nor understands, or embraces.

This is something that in the past it may have worked to some extent, although if you look into it carefully I doubt it has been as effective as what some people may say. If not, let’s have a look into the recent past and see where KM was heading. As I continue to get more and more involved with social computing, things are changing. And fast! I am not sure any longer a traditional KM approach would be relevant in the current business environment, specially since Knowledge Sharing is coming back thanks to the push from the knowledge workers themselves, i.e. bottom-up approach, as they become much more collaborative not only sharing their knowledge and expertise with others, but also sharing something that I have always found incredibly powerful and enriching: their own social capital.

This is why, like I have been mentioning a couple of times, I was actually expecting to learn some more about a blended approach where Knowledge Management would be looked at both from a traditional perspective, where you get to learn what worked and bear in mind what didn’t (Which I still feel is incredibly helpful since we get to learn a whole lot more from what has gone wrong than what has worked best – More on that later!) to then try to incorporate the next generation of KM.

So much so that if you are getting ready to put together (Or starting to review!) your own KM strategy it probably makes sense to incorporate that blended approach. More than anything else, because from what I could see, during those couple of days, the training was still missing how the knowledge workers are shifting gears about sharing content that most businesses never thought, nor dreamed off having! And in some cases the corporate world hasn’t come to terms with it just yet. So how can you ignore that? Should you? … I don’t think so.

Defining Knowledge Management: In one of the different slides that got shared at the very beginning we actually covered and discussed what everyone seems to have been busy with lately. Coming up with a convincing definition for Knowledge Management. Again. This is something that I have covered in the past a few times already, but for the sake of coming around to it here it is:

"Systematic approaches to help information and knowledge flow:

– to the right people
– at the right time
– in the right format
– at the right cost

so they can act more efficiently and effectively.

Find, understand, share and use knowledge to create value

Knowledge if information in action"

Back then, and just as I am writing this particular weblog post, I am not convinced about this particular definition. There are a number of things that I do not feel are representative enough of what KM is. Systematic is probably the last word I would use in such definition about KM, because if there is anything clear is that KM hasn’t got anything to do with the concept of system(s). Yet we keep coming up with finding that killer KM definition that will answer all of our concerns. For how long? How much effort and energy we would need to spend on finding something that we may not even need in the first place!?!

I think that we would be much better off actually if we would just focus on other important and relevant items around knowledge sharing like helping knowledge workers understand what their potential role may well be and how they can embrace it to help them become better at what we do. After all there are already a whole bunch of KM definitions out there that we could reuse all over the place. Check out "The Essence of Knowledge Management" for some of my favourites.

Oh, and if you are wondering when I am going to be coming up with a definition of my own, I guess you already know the answer. There are other interesting things to do and engage with, I am sure, specially when the experts have been sharing some really good approaches to it already.

Narrative and sensemaking (Storytelling): Finally, one of the items that I have been very pleased with seeing it come up repeatedly over and over again is the fact that storytelling, i.e. narrative and sensemaking, is starting to grab a whole lot more momentum and attention on how it can help not only promote KM principles, but also to help measure and quantify some of the business value from Knowledge Management all along.

That is right, folks, in case you may not be looking into it just yet, narrative will become, if not already, a key and fundamental approach towards helping knowledge workers understand how KM operates at the same time that it would start getting used as a powerful option to help convince businesses (And knowledge workers themselves) of the business value from KM. Stay tuned around this very same subject, because I am going to cover it in much more detail at a later time.

The interesting thing about all this is how social computing tools are actually going to become even much more relevant in helping embrace narrative within the corporate world as it would allow capturing and sharing knowledge across the board, because that is what we are already doing with blogs, wikis, podcasts, vodcasts, etc. etc. Telling stories! Exciting stuff, indeed!

And that would be it, folks, a good lengthy summary from the first couple of days attending the KM: Strategies and Tactics for Business Results. Tomorrow I will actually be sharing another review around the subject of the second KM training I attended on measuring KM, but that would be the subject for another article.

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  1. Eek! Too much. Too much. How about a post that gives your Top X items that you were surprised / interested to hear at the conference? Then we can come back here for more.

  2. Hi Jack! Thanks very much for the feedback comments and for the information details. As usual, very valuable input. Yes, I agree with you and thought along the same lines at the very beginning while I was preparing the different drafts. I mean, to just create one of them saying what I liked about the event and what I didn’t, but then I realised about how many folks out there have been contacting me offline asking to provide a bit more of insights since they have just been introduced to the world of KM and wanted to know some more about the other side of things, which is why all of these lengthy articles have been published.

    You have been involved in the KM world for quite some time and for you most of this stuff is not new, I know and I realise about that and perhaps most of these weblog entries would not be very helpful to you, however, I wanted to share them still for those folks out there who are getting started with KM and who would need to open up to what is happening at the moment.

    That was the whole point behind it and now that it is over I will go back to “normal” 😉 From here onwards, the fun part will start, which is basically sharing a couple of comments per each of the sessions I attended during the APQC KM & Innovation event, which is what I really enjoyed quite thoroughly. Thus not to worry, such lengthy weblog entries will not be there any longer. At least, to the extent I have done these other ones.

    Appreciated the valuable feedback, Jack! Thanks much!

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