What's new in KM? #hot-topics

Stan Garfield

The topic scheduled for this month's call has been rescheduled to April 18, 2017:
- Steve Denning & Stan Garfield - Frank discussion on where KM stands in the world these days

Given that the discussion will not take place until next year, let's discuss this online.  I posted the following today in response to a question in Quora:

What are new ideas in knowledge management?


What do you think is in new in KM these days?  What new ideas have you had?  Which new ideas of others have you found useful?

Albert Simard

As some of you know, I’ve been wrestling with the structured / unstructured (technical / social) dichotomy in KM for a while.  My quest is to bring these two disparate approaches closer together by describing organizational social structures using enterprise architecture and systems analysis techniques.  Some time ago, I presented a social interaction framework to KM, consisting of sharing, collaboration, negotiation, and competition.  Well, I just submitted a book chapter on a social context framework that underlies the interaction framework.  I’m scheduled to present the social context to SIKM later this year. 


The social context framework stems from a review of the social science literature (75 authors).  The review found more than 1200 terms, 90% of which were used only once.  This indicates that there is no consensus on an overall paradigm that we can use to help us understand the essential social aspect of KM.  No wonder that KMers haven’t figured this out yet.    


The terms were clustered into a 3-dimensional framework (attributes, scale, and manageability), which is subdivided into 9 components, which are further divided into 77 criteria. The overall message of the framework is that social structures are a lot more complex than most of us realize.  For example trust (one sub-dimension) is not a simple entity, but a set of processes that are almost as complex as KM itself.  Trying to fix just one element without understanding how it connects to everything else is unlikely to work.


Although the idea is to use the framework as a whole, because many elements are connected to many other elements,  the framework is too complex to implement all at once.  So the framework is presented in a way that facilitates filtering out a handful of criteria most in need of improvement.  Others will, no doubt, find ways to simplify the framework for operational use (a good thing), but the comprehensive list of indicators and management actions is a pretty good place to start.


See you (virtually) in the fall!


Al Simard