Re: In what Industries or Segments does KM Thrive? #KMers #discussion-starter #future-of-work #state-of-KM


Nancy Dixon
 

Taking the long view, I think KM will survive, but perhaps not in its current configuration nor with the “KM” label. 
Starting with Drucker's, Post-Capitalist Society,1993 and Weick's, Sensemaking in Organizations, 1995 there has been a growing understanding of the value of knowledge to organizations.  I was involved in Organizational Learning  (Dixon, The Organizational Learning Cycle, 1996), conversely called, The Learning Organization (Senge, The Firth Discipline, 1994) before the talk started about KM. From my perspective Organizational Learning became relabeled as KM.  

Even now, in organizations we see new labels being taken up that privileging knowledge.  Most of these labels use terms like “digital,” ”intelligence" or “learning" in some form. Already, many of us in SIKM are specialized in some aspect of KM, we are experts in Sharepoint, Big data, SNA, facilitation. My own practice has long been associated with designing conversations that both develop and transfer knowledge.

I think the importance and emphasis on knowledge will continue, but that we cannot hold the label too closely, or think of KM as something that must be a department or a separate part of the organization. It was helpful to start that way, with a dedicated group of smart KMer's thinking about how to make the best use of an organization’s knowledge. But we may be nearing the end of that time and we can help create what is coming next. Maybe something that moves organizations into new organizational structures with paradigms based on our joint intelligence. (I’m thinking of Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations.)  It is exciting to think about what is possible with this valuable commodity to which we are all dedicated. 

Nancy
 


On May 12, 2020, at 3:32 AM, Patrick Lambe via groups.io <plambe@...> wrote:

While that’s true Murray, my point (following Stephen) was that we have to think on a broader scale than of within organisations. My point about institutionalisation was at the societal level - as a profession, becoming embedded into social institutions and norms [as engineers, lawyers, accountants are].

P

Patrick Lambe
Partner
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On 12 May 2020, at 4:28 PM, Murray Jennex <murphjen@...> wrote:

yes Patrick, it takes time to get KM institutionalized.  The disillusionment comes from having to take time to do something in organizations that often think only short term.  If we can get leaders to think a little longer that would help....murray jennex


-----Original Message-----
From: Patrick Lambe <plambe@...>
To: SIKM@groups.io
Sent: Tue, May 12, 2020 12:52 am
Subject: Re: [SIKM] In what Industries or Segments does KM Thrive? #discussion-starter #futureofwork #kmers #proven-pra ctice #jobs

I feel your frustration Stephen. And these words resonated:

<<While the braggadocious over-promising and under-delivery of the 90s and oughts led to a serious credibility problem for KM, now we are afraid to promise much of anything at all. Worse: since there is no common underpinning of skills as a practice, we can't even point to successes in one organisation as a reasonable predictor of likely success in another.>>

[Not that braggadocio has disappeared from our community]

However, I don’t think we are failing to make progress. It’s just slow to institutionalise a profession as young as we are. Theoretical frameworks are not enough. We haven’t yet mastered the art of the societal politics of KM. We have to be prepared to think in terms of decades, and looking after the continuity of our profession, helping our successors, and constantly hammering away at the same basic things.

I think we are making progress, painfully slow though it is. You are right to be impatient, of course. Impatience is what propels us forward. Patience is what keeps us from giving up. There you go, another contradiction we must embody.

P

Patrick Lambe
Partner
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On 12 May 2020, at 3:39 PM, Stephen Bounds <km@...> wrote:

Hi Patrick,
Oh, I completely agree that KM is hard.
My frustration stems from the occasional feeling that people in the KM community have resigned themselves to the implementation of amateur-level KM with amateur-level knowledge of the discipline on the basis that it is better than having no KM at all.
KM should be at the absolute forefront of public discussions about the global COVID-19 response. What has played out across the world is absolutely not just luck (while still being a factor). We have the theoretical frameworks relating to complex adaptive systems, knowledge creation and diffusion, risk, trust, and communications to understand the problem and contribute to future solutions.
Yet I don't think I've heard KM mentioned even once in public discourse. Right now there is minimal understanding that this is at the very core of our discipline.

While the braggadocious over-promising and under-delivery of the 90s and oughts led to a serious credibility problem for KM, now we are afraid to promise much of anything at all. Worse: since there is no common underpinning of skills as a practice, we can't even point to successes in one organisation as a reasonable predictor of likely success in another.
We have to work out how to address this lack of coherence as a discipline. Otherwise we're just going to spend the next 20 years talking to each other and not to the people who need to hear it.
Cheers,
Stephen.
====================================
Stephen Bounds
Executive, Information Management
Cordelta
E: stephen.bounds@...
M: 0401 829 096
====================================
On 12/05/2020 3:59 pm, Patrick Lambe wrote:
Hi Stephen

I don’t think hardness is really a factor in survival of KM functions. Lord knows, KM is hard.

Financial Management (and its embedded threadlets, financial management norms institutionalised into general management practice) have had 600 years to become institutionally and societally embedded. They are propped up and reinforced through pervasive laws, regulations and standards. Legally you can’t operate as a business of any size without this function. It has become a key mechanism in the whole capitalist way of creating and moving value around in society - and taxing and regulating value creation. This means you can fire any given CFO or accountant and hire another one to the same specification. Financial management has become mechanised to a large degree in many organisations. All of these factors act on its “indispensability” and none of them pertain to knowledge management at its current state of maturity. 

So while I think the metaphor of embeddedness does apply across management disciplines, and can be applied to knowledge management as to financial management, this metaphor does not extend to dispensability. KM just doesn’t have the same depth of institutional rootedness to compare with a function like FM. That’s why KM has to demonstrate value, repeatedly, win and retain support, repeatedly, play the political game, repeatedly, in addition to becoming embedded. In fact, I know of cases where over-successful embedding has rendered KM effectively invisible, and the phenomenon happens that Matt talks about - periodic loss of support, followed by reinvention of a new function a couple of years later.

Perhaps this was more to your point Stephen?

P

Patrick Lambe
Partner
+65 62210383

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twitter: @plambesg

Knowledge mapping made easy: www.aithinsoftware.com

On 12 May 2020, at 1:10 PM, Stephen Bounds <km@...> wrote:

Hi Murray,
I think it matters quite a lot in the context that this conversation arose, which was around KM jobs.
Similarly to engineering, Patrick made comments about the pervasiveness of "small f small m" financial management -- yet I see no signs of a world in which the CFO and accountants are all made redundant. Chartered professionals have reached a level of specialised expertise where there is a broad recognition that their skills cannot be easily replicated by a lay person. 
To be blunt, if "frankly KM isn't that hard" then we need to make it harder. Otherwise, we will continue to see dedicated KM roles being shed from companies en masse when there are economic downturns.
Cheers,
Stephen.
====================================
Stephen Bounds
Executive, Information Management
Cordelta
E: stephen.bounds@...
M: 0401 829 096
====================================
On 11/05/2020 4:53 pm, Murray Jennex wrote:
I have worked with people who didn't know they were engineers (but its not real common).  I'm not sure why you are sensitive about this, that people can do KM without knowing they are doing KM.  The name KM came about in the late 90s with it being OM, organizational memory or perhaps OL, organizational learning before that.  Those practitioners didn't know they were doing KM until they embraced the term KM.  Managing knowledge is not something that KM invented, people have been managing knowledge for centuries without knowing they were doing KM.  Now I didn't say that people adopting a knowledge practice are knowledge managers, but they can be and are managers and frankly, smart people in any discipline can figure out how to adopt and implement good knowledge practices.  I won't say they are as good at as a KM professional but they get by.  This is not unique to the world as the world is full of amateur engineers, astronomers, photographers, farmers, financiers, etc.  Heck, even on this list I've seen many posters complain about doctoral level KM professionals who teach KM.  It sounds elitist to suggest that only KM professionals can do KM, frankly KM isn't that hard if you study the different disciplines that we combine and have the vision to see what needs to be done.  This is why we are seeing some KM positions eliminated even though we know we provide value.  Heck, we are seeing MBA enrollments decline because gifted amateurs such as Mark Cuban say you don't need to be a MBA professional to be a good business person; and to some degree he is correct.  Same applies to KM....murray jennex


-----Original Message-----
From: Stephen Bounds <km@...>
To: SIKM@groups.io
Sent: Sun, May 10, 2020 10:53 pm
Subject: Re: [SIKM] In what Industries or Segments does KM Thrive? #discussion-starter #futureofwork #kmers #proven-pra ctice #jobs

Is there such a thing as an "embedded engineer"? If not, why not?
I have some issues with the idea that people "don't even know they are doing KM" unless people also "don't even know they are doing engineering".
I don't think workers who know how to assemble Ikea furniture "are" engineers, and I don't think people who informally adopt a sound KM practice within their teams "are" knowledge managers either.
Cheers,
Stephen.
====================================
Stephen Bounds
Executive, Information Management
Cordelta
E: stephen.bounds@...
M: 0401 829 096
====================================
On 10/05/2020 6:24 am, Murray Jennex via groups.io wrote:
I understand your point Nick, but I look at embedded KM much like I would look at a embedded system, something that works but is buried in the innards of the system and is something nobody notices until it doesn't work.  I see embedded KM as KM built into the work practices: knowledge capture a part of the analysis of problems, knowledge sharing a part of the setup of how knowledge is saved and searched, collaboration with colleagues a part of the work culture and evaluation system, and etc.  You don't need a KM function to monitor this as monitoring is also embedded.  In these organizations they don't always even know they are doing KM, it is just good practice or common sense (I think this is something we have said as KMers for many years).  Where you do need some KM function is in governance of processes and data: mainly for ensuring knowledge alignment with strategic goals, incorporate process changes, and to anticipate future needs and process modifications.  How large this function is I'm not sure and it probably varies widely in practice.  How did embedded KM get there in the first place? That is where KM may have had a role (and I would agree it is done better if KM did have a role in initial design) but with knowledge workers it will happen even if there is no formal KM guidance as it is just good sense.....murray jennex


-----Original Message-----
From: Nick Milton <nick.milton@...>
To: SIKM@groups.io
Sent: Sat, May 9, 2020 7:40 am
Subject: Re: [SIKM] In what Industries or Segments does KM Thrive? #discussion-starter #futureofwork #kmers #proven-pra ctice #jobs

I don’t think embedded KM means no KM department, its just that they have a different function – support, monitoring, coaching, training, measuring, rather than doing. .
 
After all, most organisations have embedded financial management, but still have financial professionals and a CFO. 
 
 
 
Nick Milton

 
 
From: SIKM@groups.io <SIKM@groups.io> On Behalf Of Chris Jones
Sent: 09 May 2020 15:09
To: SIKM@groups.io
Subject: Re: [SIKM] In what Industries or Segments does KM Thrive? #discussion-starter #futureofwork #kmers #proven-pra ctice #jobs
 
Rahul - sure, my ask is to understand the industries or sectors of the economy (or perhaps more broadly, the global organizational landscape, to include NGO/NFP's & Government agencies) where KM is successful. For me, with on-going threads about KM job losses, demise of KM, and the like, I'm wanting to learn whether success is tied to unique industry needs.

Bill - thanks again for these inputs.

Murray - the examples are helpful; in my work in utilities, I've learned that fault intolerance tends to show up as increased, very detailed processes and controls, where knowledge is clearly integral - so I see your point.

Nick - execellent chart !! and I was hoping this sort of analysis had been done.  Interesting that you show embedded KM as the ideal end state in an applied maturity model rather than an alternative approach to a functional "KM department".  Curious if there's another thread on KM maturity models - guessing yes? I'll check - 

Appreciate all the responses, you're definitely advancing my thinking - thanks much for taking time to weigh-in.

Chris 


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