Responding to many interesting comments here, and in particular to Stephen’s remarks highlighted below, which I find spot-on.
I always ask my clients, Are you 100% assured that you’re in a knowledge-friendly organization — and that this won’t change under the stress of, say, an economic downturn? Unless you are, I generally counsel against using the term “knowledge sharing,” especially among executives — who may see it as naive, unrealistically idealistic, socialistic, or a security risk — or some combination — often without verbalizing this (or even acknowledging it to themselves.)
“Knowledge sharing” is one of several common KM terms whose professional utility I question in my latest book. I recommend using the more neutral terms of knowledge “transfer,” “distribution,” or “transmission.” My own preference is for the less-jargony, community-flavored “communication.”
Semantics and optics aside, all knowledge tactics are powerful and should be applied carefully and consciously — much like the side effects of a strong drug (as you imply, Stephen). Specifically, the benefits and the costs should be evaluated and balanced. Yes, greater “knowledge sharing” can *under the right conditions* lead to greater collaboration, which can in turn improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness. On the other hand, it can increase time drains, cause “knowledge overload,” lead to overly-cautious “consensus addiction,” slow decision making, blur lines of authority and accountability, and other not-so-good outcomes.
It’s important to make these implicit costs known, along with the benefits. This calibrates the expectations of your sponsors and users appropriately, and helps you monitor the tangible effects — both wanted and unwanted — of implementation.
From: <main@SIKM.groups.io> on behalf of Stephen Bounds <km@...>
Very well said, but I think we need to be careful not to make the prescription of things like "collaborative culture" a dogma. For example per Snowden and Cynefin, a focus on collaborative culture would be incorrect in a crisis environment.
The last time KM sparked broad interest in the 1990s, it failed to catch on in large part because the consultant-led model promoted certain behaviours regardless of the nature of the organisation being targeted.
The uncritical application of the same KM "solutions" in a wide range of contexts often led to mediocre outcomes that would limp along for a few years and then be quietly axed due to no-one being able to point to concrete benefits.
For KM to regain its standing as a critically-accepted discipline, we have to be rigorous about this. Any calls to adopt a KM initiative needs to have an explicit theory of change backing it and most importantly, indications and contraindications for its use. Otherwise we're just going to repeat the same mistakes of the past.
Executive, Information Management
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On 6/03/2021 6:41 am, Peter-Anthony Glick via groups.io wrote: