I know that for a good number of years Social Computing and Knowledge Management have been walking different paths. Even more, I would probably be able to state that all along they haven’t gotten on well with one other. Quite the opposite! Knowledge Management doesn’t want to do anything with Social Computing, because of the chaotic, messy and unstructured sharing of knowledge and information, and how little control organisations may have over it all, specially within communities (Which are currently the major drivers of social software adoption within the business world). And Social Computing doesn’t want to do anything with Knowledge Management because all of the "management" piece of knowledge and that willingness from KM to control both the flow of information and knowledge within an organisation.
I know that I may be oversimplifying in this, but I am sure that you would agree with me that is very rare to find some common ground between traditional Knowledge Management and Social Computing. Yet, to be honest, they are both the same! They are both trying to help improve the overall productivity of knowledge workers. That’s probably their main premise. Each of them placing the focus on the own key areas: KM on the processes and tools and Social Computing on the people themselves.
Still, like I said, they are both the same! Or, at least, trying to achieve the very same thing! So why do we still keep them both separate as if they where fighting against one another when they could actually complement each other? Remember? The good old KM pyramid graphic of tools, processes and people?
Well, that’s what I would like to talk about today. Especially, after I have covered some of this, just recently, in a couple of recent posts ("Defining Knowledge Management and Enterprise 2.0 — Sharing Your Story" and "Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch"). However, I would want to pick things up again from the latter article I put together. The one about culture and strategy and how Social Computing could well be the glue to make it all work out just fine within the corporate environment.
Now, for a minute, I would like you to do me a favor. In that trend of thought outlined here I would like you to substitute Social Computing for Knowledge Management. Outrageous, I know! But bear with me. From there, and I know how you are starting to get a bit nervous, I would like you to go and read the absolutely wonderful blog post that Nick Milton (From Knoco Ltd) put together under the title "What Is the KM Culture Shift?" and read through what I think is one of the most inspiring articles around KM AND Social Computing that I have read in a long long while!
Nick is back at it sharing a couple of great stories that I’m sure we can all relate to (both of them!). But towards the end of the article he comes to put together a very thought provoking couple of sentences that explain very clearly, in my opinion, the cultural changes that will need to happen, RIGHT NOW, in order for both Social Computing (or Enterprise 2.0, whatever term you would want to use) and Knowledge Management to succeed in the current business world.
I am going to quote those few words over here, because they’re just far too good to miss out on them, and they surely would set the stage over what I would want to add further out in the next couple of minutes:
"BP had been through a deliberate process of culture change, bringing in a culture of Openness, Performance-focus, Networking and Empowerment. This was the culture change that made KM implementation so much easier in BP. So how do we characterize this change in culture as it relates to knowledge? For me it is a profound shift from the individual to the collective"
Goodness! You will have to agree with me that Nick is just spot on. Right on the money! Right in the middle of the challenge every single organization out there is currently facing with the adoption of social software within the corporate firewall. Just brilliant!
But it gets better. Way better! Take a look now into a follow-up blog post that he put together under "The KM Culture Change", where he’s sharing a link to a recent YouTube video that he did where he explains in plenty more detail what that cultural shift needs to be like.
In fact he explains further what that profound shift from the individual to the collective is going to be like, or should be like. So, as a teaser, I thought I will quote, very briefly, some of his major key points and then I would just leave things right there and point you to the YouTube video so that you can savour an amazing four minutes of inspiring thoughts that will make you think for a while. And if you don’t believe me, here’s the teaser:
- "From “I know” to “We know”
- From “Knowledge is mine” to “Knowledge is ours”
- From “Knowledge is owned” to “Knowledge is shared”
- From “Knowledge is personal property” to “Knowledge is collective / community property”
- From “Knowledge is personal advantage” to “Knowledge is company advantage”
- From “Knowledge is personal” to “Knowledge is inter-personal”
- From “I defend what I know” to “I am open to better knowledge”
- From “not invented here (i.e. by me)” to “invented in my community”
- From “New knowledge competes with my personal knowledge” to “new knowledge improves my personal knowledge”
- From "other people’s knowledge is a threat to me" to "our shared knowledge helps me"
- From “Admitting I don’t know is weakness” to “Admitting I don’t know is the first step to learning”"
And here’s the embedded video for you to enjoy just as much as I did:
Some pretty amazing stuff, eh? Still think that Knowledge Management and Social Computing should keep fighting against each other as opposed to perhaps help one another into providing, once and for all, that original premise where Knowledge Sharing is all about a successful combination of the best technology with the top notch business processes "managed" by the best talent you have got as a business: your knowledge workers. Your people!?!?
Maybe we should quit fighting against each other and, instead, "admit that we don’t know it all as a first step to learning"… … What do you think?
Tags: People, Culture, Strategy, Business, Business Imperatives, Enterprise, YouTube, Videos, Enterprise 2.0, Social Software, Social Networking, Social Computing, Social Media, Collaboration, Communities, Learning, Knowledge Sharing, KM, Knowledge Management, Innovation, Conversations, Communication, Connections, Relationships, Productivity, Productivity 2.0, Knowledge Workers, Business Processes, Technology, Tools, The People, Nick Milton, Knoco Ltd, The Individual, The Collective