Knowledge Management

You don't have to be human to have knowledge

The post title says it all, really, but I want to put a stake in the ground on this one.

Every time there is a debate within a KM forum on knowledge, someone will say that "knowledge is a human thing". Or perhaps more specifically, they will claim a computer can't have knowledge. A computer can only hold information, it is the humans who programmed it who have the knowledge.

But in a world where we have

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What succession planning really means

Dave Griffiths wrote an article recently about his experience in attempting to provide feedback on a succession planning process, titled "When knowledge transfer plans go wrong". David wrote:

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Is KM dropping the ball on collaboration?

Peter Anthony-Glick has written a thoughtful post and blog wondering why KM staff sometimes actively resist the use of internal social collaboration tools.

My view is that the key capability KM generally lacks is a robust framework for evaluating proposed changes to organisational capabilities (whether that be a technology, process, or management change) and being able to usefully discuss what it is likely to achieve.

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The sustaining power of self-interest

I have always been suspicious of altruism. Humans are capable of wonderful and unselfish acts, but when trying to determine the behaviour of an overall system, I think it's far more reasonable to expect that people will act to benefit their own interests.

Why? Three basic reasons:

  • Local judgement. People understand and focus on their local situation better and in more detail than a more distant consideration.
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The flaws of DIKW

One of my constant bugbears in KM theory is the use of DIKW, or the pyramid of data, information, knowledge, and wisdom.

The idea is that a "refining" process takes place at each layer of the hierarchy. So: refined data becomes information, refined information becomes knowledge; and refined knowledge becomes wisdom. I personally feel the model is, at best, only really applicable in a few limited domains and even then it is problematic.

I have two main two objections to the theory:

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The problem of preserving important information

Timothy Vines recently led a research effort to try and determine how quickly the source data (and thus justification) for scientific research becomes inaccessible. The answer: it proved impossible to source the data for 77 per cent of the 516 studies investigated, which were published between 1991 and 2011. The major reasons:

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SaaS is being adopted to decrease OODA loop time

(Reposted from LinkedIn, where an interesting discussion of Enterprise Architecture's role in the modern organisation is taking place.)

SaaS is an interesting beast. If we consider "work" to exist on a continuum from servitude on the left (a completely custom service on demand) to shop window on the right (here's what on display; take it or leave it), SaaS is far more to the right.

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Why does resilience matter?

In response to my article on holding back the tide of complexity, Lillian Oats asked: What's important about a resilient process?

It's a good question, but in some ways the wrong question to ask.

There is nothing intrinsically "important" about a resilient process but as our world becomes more complex, it is less and less viable to implement robust processes to solve problems.

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Holding back the tide of complexity

Helga Nowotny made a ripper of a speech to the 5th Global Drucker Forum. Here's an excerpt of the edited transcript:

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Why KPIs are not the answer for complex systems (part 3)

What defines a successful organisation?

The answer, of course, is "it depends". But it does amaze me that so many people assume that their answer is normatively better than others.

Let's wind back. Organisations are complex systems, but they are quite different from other social systems for two reasons:
(1) they are intentional, and
(2) they are created for a stated purpose.

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