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

From the blog

The Impact of Web 2.0 on Knowledge Work and Knowledge Management by Dave Snowden and Jon Husband – Part III

Continued from The Impact of Web 2.0 on Knowledge Work and Knowledge Management by Dave Snowden and Jon Husband – Part II

Right after Dave moves onto one of the sections of the podcast interview that I have really enjoyed the most and which I am sure plenty of folks out there would have difficulties in trying to understand it, more than anything else because all along we have been doing quite the opposite, and funny enough without success.

Yes, there it is when he mentions how Web 2.0 "moves knowledge outside of the corporate control". For quite some time now, Dave has always been arguing rather strongly the fact that (Paraphrasing here now) in knowledge work you should never provide any incentives, because "reward people for contributing to a KM database fails to understand the basic trust implications of the knowledge interaction". Like, if you ask for something that you need in the context of genuine need no-one is going to refuse that knowledge exchange. However, if you ask to share your knowledge in anticipation for a potential need by someone you may not know in the future, there is a great chance that will never happen. It’s "that immediacy, that context that matters".

Dave comes to conclude that there would be a couple of consequences around the subject of incentivising knowledge workers for sharing their knowledge: if you give people incentives or money for posting knowledge to a KM system then the people who are very good at achieving their targets, they will always find materials to submit to the system to get the rewards. So in a way the focus would be more on the incentives themselves more than in the knowledge sharing activity in the first place, with the consequence that abuse of trust may result in the end on not providing the knowledge and information any longer, even if it were really needed.

I am sure that by now, if you have been reading this blog for a while, you may identify how this very same topic goes along the very same lines of what I have been saying for some time now and which also comes pretty close to Dave’s words of wisdom on some Knowledge Management rules:

"1. Knowledge will only ever be volunteered it can not be conscripted.
2. We only know what we know when we need to know it.
3. We always know more than we can tell and we will always tell more than we can write down."

And the nice thing as well is that these very same thoughts fit in quite nicely with the recent conversations I have been having over here around the subject of ROI for Social Software. This is exactly the main reason why trying to figure out the traditional ROI for Social Software is not going to work really nice and Dave comes to put it quite nicely when he comments further on how can you create a knowledge sharing culture. You can’t, he asserts.

What you can do is "increase the interaction between people, increase their interdependency and increase the immediacy of that Knowledge Management request". Pretty much like e-mail back in the days versus what is happening today where we seem to have developed an addiction to it. I really enjoyed his comments on having to break the current mail system(s), because that is exactly what Web 2.0 is currently doing, and succeeding, in my opinion. And a few seconds later Dave comes up with what I think is one of the best social computing definitions (And KM, for that matter) I have heard to date:

"Knowledge work becomes the way we do things around here"

To be continued …

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