This might seem like an odd way to start a presentation, but…What it meansWhat’s your organisation’s position on IP in presentations?
THIS SESSION IS INTERACTIVE
Shout out. Write on flip chart. Delegates give each one marks out of 10 for effectiveness.Come back to these later and see whether your ideas have changed.
Session loosely structured around the Eleven deadliest sins of KM, an article published in 1998. The scary thing is that a lot of the errors described in the article are still made. Not going to cover all of them. Get through as many as we can. Probably three of them.
The most important error, and the cause of all the others.
What is knowledge? How does it differ from information? What is information? What is data? What is the relationship between them? Not a trick question. More of a philosophical one. There is no right answer. Which is why it’s important to have a working definition of knowledge.One of the reasons for the confusion between information and knowledge is that there are different types of knowledge.
The most common (and useful) way of classifying knowledge.Once explicit knowledge has been codified, it isn’t really knowledge any more – it is a representation of the author’s knowledge, but it is information. If someone writes a book, the reader has to apply their own knowledge to make sense of it. And different readers will probably interpret it in different ways. Tacit knowledge – how do you recognise a known face in a crowd?
If you manage only explicit knowledge, you’re managing information. And missing out on the valuable tacit knowledge.
If you don’t have a working definition of knowledge? Shout out.Answer: you tend to do the easy stuff – managing explicit knowledge by writing it down. Which turns into information management.Suggestions: you invest all of your effort in capturing lessons learned and then find they are not being re-used; you choose the wrong intervention - for example issuing a user-guide when a seminar or on the floor coaching would have been more effective, you miss the opportunity to innovate
Before we move on to the next ‘error’ – a slightly more subtle point about knowledge.Knowledge isn’t purely individual. Groups of people can have shared understandings.Which type of knowledge is the most important?Four types of knowledge are of equal importance. We often think that individual knowledge is better than group knowledge, and that explicit knowledge is better than tacit knowledge. Think about our education system and about the way performance is measured.There’s an important aspect of what people know that isn’t captured in the four types, e.g riding a bicycle – the actual act (practice) of riding it has to be added. Knowledge is in the head, knowing is part of practice.
If knowledge is treated as information, no surprise that it is treated as objects that can be captured and stored – usually in databases. Organisations need to manage data and information in this way – but it isn’t managing knowledge. It’s managing representations of explicit knowledge, the tip of the knowledge iceberg. And missing out much of the valuable part of the iceberg.
If knowledge can be managed then it must be a ‘thing’ – something you can get hold of. If that was true then you could put knowledge in a wheelbarrow. Of course you can’t do this. You could put some brains in a wheelbarrow but that wouldn’t be the same thing (and you would probably attract the attention of the authorities!) You could put some people into a wheelbarrow but you would still not have knowledge – unless of course they started talking to each other.If you think you can put your organisational knowledge in a wheelbarrow, you’re focusing on knowledge stocks and actually managing information.
An imaginary conversation I had with you while I was preparing this presentation.The point here is that transmitting knowledge isn’t enough. Me telling you about KM doesn’t mean knowledge is flowing. For knowledge to flow, you have to understand what I mean, make sense of it, make sense of it using your existing knowledge about KM and your project, your organisation, whatever... And then you have to use it, otherwise it is of little value to you.Also, none of what I’m saying is new...(which is, incidentally, why this presentation is licensed under Creative Commons)(and, also incidentally, this is the difference between teaching and learning)So how do we make knowledge flow?
The working environment is just as important (if not more important) than the tools and techniques you use.
YOU NEED BOTH!
Knowledge initiatives and KM programmes often become ends in themselves. Their whole point – which is to make better decisions and do things more effectively and efficiently – gets lost. You can end up wasting a lot of time on things that don’t actually contribute anything.
Most people new to KM go straight to the methods and tools question – and often end up managing information rather than knowledge.
Knowledge management - the basic ingredients
– the basic ingredients
Judy Payne – Hemdean Consulting
Martin Fisher – WRAP
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• Knowledge is not the same as information.
• Knowledge can never be captured completely.
• KM has to connect people to people, not just to
• The environment is more important than the
techniques you use.
• Be clear about your KM purpose.
Your experiences of KM
What tools and techniques do you use
for managing knowledge?
NOT DEVELOPING A
WORKING DEFINITION OF
Explicit and tacit knowledge
Explicit: knowledge that can
readily be codified into words
and numbers. Easy to share.
Difficult to protect.
Tacit: knowledge that is personal and
difficult to express. What we don’t know
we know. Difficult to share. The most
valuable kind of knowledge.
Why does this matter?
Managing explicit knowledge
Capture and codify as much as
you can. Share.
Quite easy to do – and easy to
Document management, case studies,
lessons learned databases.
Managing tacit knowledge
Encourage people to connect,
communicate and collaborate.
More difficult to do – and more
difficult to copy.
Communities of practice, conversations,
What happens if you don’t have a
working definition of knowledge?
Data does not create
information; information does
not create knowledge and
knowledge does not create
wisdom. People use their
knowledge to make sense of
data and information. People
create information that
represents their knowledge,
which can then be more widely
A working definition of knowledge
Knowledge is a fluid mix of framed experience,
values, contextual information, and expert insight
that provides a framework for evaluating and
incorporating new experiences and information. It
originates and is applied in the minds of knowers.
In organisations, it often becomes embedded not
only in documents or repositories but also in
organisational routines, processes, practices and
Davenport and Prusak, 1998
Knowledge and knowing
Things an individual
Things a group can
Cook and Brown, 1999
STOCK TO THE DETRIMENT
OF KNOWLEDGE FLOW
Right, I’m going to tell you everything I know about KM
Actually, I’ve already told you a lot. You got it yet?
Erm, yes. Of course. We’re not stupid, you know.
Good, off you go then and be good at KM.
No idea what she’s
What helps knowledge to flow?
• Time, trust and territory (Miles, Snow and Miles)
• Hire smart people and let them talk to one
another (Davenport and Prusak)
• Shared language
• Strong business relationships
Hierarchies ....and networks
• Relationships mandated
• Top-down control
• Good for sharing
• Tend to be formal
• Managed ‘traditionally’
• Relationships voluntary
• Emergent, bottom-up
• Good for collaboration,
learning and managing
• Tend to be informal
• Managed by letting go
KM isn’t an exercise in collecting...
With thanks to Chris Collison for the butterflies metaphor
Neither is it an