Re: Defining knowledge in your organisation: is it simple or hard? #definition


Murray Jennex
 

I found that there were severe ontological issues as well as formatting of reports, etc. that are organizational specific that made this difficult...murray jennex


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From: Dave Snowden via groups.io <snowded@...>
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Sent: Sun, Jan 8, 2023 1:59 am
Subject: Re: [SIKM] Defining knowledge in your organisation: is it simple or hard? #definition

It’s not especially difficult if you capture knowledge, at least in part, in micro-narrative form which gives you cultural contact as well.  In our work we ‘incentivise’ that by replacing reporting processes with something more effective.  The you enable peer to peer transfer of learning in unstructured ways





Prof Dave Snowden

Director & Founder - The Cynefin Centre 
CSO - The Cynefin Company
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On 8 Jan 2023, at 09:54, Murray Jennex via groups.io <murphjen@...> wrote:

I get what you are saying Dave but the what emerges in Scandinavia stays in Scandinavia I think is more reflective of the cultural aspect and specific organizational culture aspect of knowledge. I found this in a study I did in the late 90s. The approach I proposed then was to capture context and culture with knowledge and not just the knowledge, this does make defining knowledge a tougher thing to do but I've seen that it can be done when their is motivation, such as a national emergency, etc. Otherwise, the economic driver to capturing culture and context with knowledge isn't strong enough to overcome just capturing knowledge, hence why knowledge in many cases tends to stay in the organization from whence it came....murray jennex


-----Original Message-----
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Sent: Sun, Jan 8, 2023 1:14 am
Subject: Re: [SIKM] Defining knowledge in your organisation: is it simple or hard? #definition

Just to chime in - there is a much wider issue with the use of ‘asset’ as language to describe anything based on human individual and capability.  Remember a whole branch of early knowledge management focused on this but it ended up as a what emerges in Scandinavia largely stays in Scandinavia in terms of practice.  But to ended up with people thinking of ’things’ not capability and all the wrong ways to measure things

These days I would talk more about agency, affordance and assemblage (all of which can be indirectly and quantitatively measured) and more P&L account than Balance Sheet





Prof Dave Snowden

Director & Founder - The Cynefin Centre 
CSO - The Cynefin Company
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On 8 Jan 2023, at 03:25, Patrick Lambe <plambe@...> wrote:

I think you misunderstood me on “magic” - I am not a fan of magic in management. 

I do think there is a lot of unacknowledged magical thinking (= bad thing) that goes on in knowledge management when we use language for its spin and useful connotations rather than for its relationship to reality.

P


Patrick Lambe
Partner
Straits Knowledge

phone:  +65 98528511

web:  www.straitsknowledge.com
resources:  www.greenchameleon.com
knowledge mapping:  www.aithinsoftware.com

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On 8 Jan 2023, at 11:15 AM, Murray Jennex via groups.io <murphjen@...> wrote:

We are probably splitting hairs here, as a long time project manager I view resources as assets so I am getting the impression you just don't like the word asset because of its many connotations and I'm fine with that. So knowledge, be it a resource or an asset, is still something we use in organizations to make us better, and because of that it needs to be managed. It may be owned by some, it may be shared by others, either way, the value of knowledge comes from being used and in an organization, that use needs to be by the right people at the right time. I'm sorry but I will never call this magic. It is a total non-starter to tell a CEO we will be using magic to manage critical knowledge assets.

I like precise words up to the point they start keeping us from doing our job, then I do the job....murray jennex


-----Original Message-----
From: Patrick Lambe <plambe@...>
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Cc: murphjen@... <murphjen@...>
Sent: Sat, Jan 7, 2023 6:06 pm
Subject: Re: [SIKM] Defining knowledge in your organisation: is it simple or hard? #definition

Being able to identify and ascribe management actions to something does not make it an asset, Murray. Nor do you need to call it an asset to apply management actions to it.

The notions of ownership and control are central to the idea of an asset. At best, with many interesting forms of knowledge, we can exercise influence, but the “assetisation” language (implying it’s mine, and I can do whatever the hell I want with it) tends to disrupt that.

Now there are clearly some forms of knowledge that are assets of the organisation. My objection is in the language that extends the asset umbrella over all forms, along with the implied - but unsubstantiated - attributes that implies. It’s counter productive and conceptually confused/ confusing.

I think ”resource” is a much better term than “asset” because it does not bring with it the ownership/control baggage.

We may not like to use the word “magic” but this form of thinking is all around us in the spins we like to put on our rhetoric - and some spins can be at best distracting, and at worst inhibiting of productive action.

For example, in my book I have a discussion on flooding in Singapore, which despite its excellent infrastructure has been having more unexpected flooding events over recent years. There was for a time among the authorities a tendency to use the word “ponding” for flooding. The word “ponding” implies boundaries, whereas the word “flooding” implies breaking of bounds - implication being it’s all under control folks. The same agencies tended to blame the local drainage systems of the buildings associated with the “ponds”, i.e. not the main water drainage and flood control infrastructure. This would tend to actively inhibit the sense of urgency in dealing with climate change induced flooding events. The environment Minister had to come out publicly and tell the agencies - “call a spade a spade”.

My appeal is to be more precise about the terms we use, and less wishful.

P

Patrick Lambe
Partner
Straits Knowledge

phone:  +65 98528511

web:  www.straitsknowledge.com
resources:  www.greenchameleon.com
knowledge mapping:  www.aithinsoftware.com

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On 8 Jan 2023, at 9:48 AM, Murray Jennex via groups.io <murphjen@...> wrote:

sorry for accidently hitting the send button.

The point I'm making is that doing something is better than doing nothing. I'm not sure what you are offering and expecting us to do. I do think a KM program that includes constant learning as well as managing critical knowledge as an asset is fine. What are the risks if we do this? I don't think I will ever use the word magic when discussing KM, it just doesn't ring true.....murray jennex


-----Original Message-----
From: Murray Jennex via groups.io <murphjen@...>
To: main@SIKM.groups.io <main@SIKM.groups.io>
Sent: Sat, Jan 7, 2023 5:44 pm
Subject: Re: [SIKM] Defining knowledge in your organisation: is it simple or hard? #definition

I don't know Patrick, I think you are going too far in your analogy. If knowledge is magic then what are we really doing? acting like ancient alchemists? I don't buy that. I have worked in organizations where critical knowledge could be easily identified and could and was treated like an asset. We weren't perfect at it and there is always knowledge that one can use that you don't know about, but that is part of your knowledge identification and acquisition program, this is not a one time event but a living program that identifies new critical knowledge as we learn. Organizations need to be life long learners and to constantly evaluate what has happened and what may happen (sort of a very loose top gun approach to being a pilot). But we can still 


-----Original Message-----
From: Patrick Lambe <plambe@...>
To: main@SIKM.groups.io
Sent: Sat, Jan 7, 2023 5:33 pm
Subject: Re: [SIKM] Defining knowledge in your organisation: is it simple or hard? #definition

If a thing doesn’t look like an asset of the organisation, doesn’t behave like an asset of the organisation, cannot in fact be managed in the same way as assets, why do we want to call it an asset?

I believe it’s actually a form of homeopathic magic - as if, by using the language of assets, we can somehow magically make all our forms of knowledge appear more manageable, like real assets. (And I say this having used the “asset” card for many years myself). But it just doesn’t play well in the field, because most forms of interesting knowledge simply don’t behave in that way.

Appealing to the notion of intangible assets is a distraction. It’s just another magician’s curtain used to explain why you can’t see it, touch it or manipulate it. Intangible assets in fact are a specific concept in accounting. They can be ascribed a book value. If you cannot treat a thing in your ledger as an intangible asset, then you haven’t gained anything except the illusion of manageability by using the term.

Here’s a quote from my book: "We fling around the precision vocabularies of audit, asset, and capital as if they are uncontestable truths, milking the certainties that come with the strong meanings of those terms, but ignoring our incapacity to work as concretely and precisely with knowledge as that language would suggest.”

I believe words should follow fact. Fact, unfortunately (or fortunately) does not tend to follow our words, no matter how enthusiastically we recite them. That’s magical thinking.

P



Patrick Lambe
Partner
Straits Knowledge

phone:  +65 98528511

web:  www.straitsknowledge.com
resources:  www.greenchameleon.com
knowledge mapping:  www.aithinsoftware.com

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On 6 Jan 2023, at 8:18 PM, Beto do Valle <beto.valle@...> wrote:

Although the "knowledge as an asset" framing opens new possibilities for managing knowledge, ignoring the differences between tangible and intangible assets is a huge mistake.

It's tricky, once organizations are used to manage tangible assets and tend to adopt the same concepts for managing intangibles: property, ownership, control, scarcity, rigid procedures. Intangible assets -- we could include reputation, culture, networks and others -- are essentially shared, emergent, dynamic, fluid, non-scarce (in the sense that their value increases with use). 

Many of the weaknesses pointed out by some of you (great points by Patrick, Nancy, Dave) actually happen when companies fall into this misunderstanding. In that sense, it seems to me that those arguments converge with the comments by Murray, Nick, Kevin: intangible assets cannot be managed exactly with the same concepts as tangible assets. 

That said, how to manage intangibles in an effective way in the organizational context? That remains (excitingly) wide open to exploration!

Beto do Valle
Impakt Consultoria
(+5511) 9.8181.3113


On Fri, Jan 6, 2023 at 7:21 AM David Muller <davidmichaelmuller@...> wrote:
IMHO this is a timely and powerful insight. The in-house or independent development of training models for AI requires exactly this kind of mindset to make the needed investment. The coordination tools are already (mostly) there. The ontologies and schema for developing AI decision support systems that connect to the environment are already (mostly) there. It’s an opportunity for individuals and groups of people and organisations to participate in the AI training model value chain. The end result would be a proper collective contextual intelligence 
marketplace.

On Thu 5 Jan 2023 at 14:15, Beto do Valle <beto.valle@...> wrote:
I see great professionals here with interesting points of view, and have learned from all comments.
But in my experience yes, how an organization defines knowledge has a strong influence on how it is approached and managed -- and on the value generated via KM.
 
As a general principle, in an organizational context knowledge should be defined as an asset
 
Defining knowledge as a resource (as in ISO statement) will make the organization use it as other limited resources: buy, use, transform, discard. This may be a valid approach, but limits the potential of knowledge to contribute to business results, because the strategies, techniques and tools used to manage resources (objects) are not enough for all dimensions of knowledge dynamics. (Actually, I find that this approach is one of the main causes of the limited attention that organizations pay to the possibilities of KM, and maybe of its limited success in some cases.)
 
On the other hand, defining knowledge as an assetputs it in a very different role in the organizational strategy and management. Knowledge is one of the intangible assets that most contribute to value generation, and when this is realized by the organization we create conditions for a totally different approach to KM. An asset requires investment, is used to generate value, is considered as important part of strategy, and so on. Strategies, techniques and tools of intangible assets management can take KM and its contributions further.
 
Considering that principle, if you start inviting your organization to understand knowledge as an (intangible) asset, and to discuss how it can be better used to generate value, you may be creating more promising ways for KM as an organizational capability.

Beto do Valle
Impakt Consulting
beto.valle@...
 


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