Looking Back at Looking Forward

sharing knowledge about organisational foresight

Knowledge sharing and the winds of change

I’ve been involved in promoting and reviewing ‘knowledge management’ (KM) within an organisation for almost a year now. In that time the best I can say is that the organisation has moved on from equating KM with IT. There are signs that at least some of the senior people understand and appreciate that knowledge sharing and creation hinges on enabling interpersonal interaction, social relationships and knowledge networking. There is new interest in communities of practices. But all of this is coming off a very low base in a deeply embedded conservative, reactive, controlling and hierarchical culture.

It was not until recently that I read the Ark Groups publication Next Generation Knowledge Management II. I have learnt so much from this book and it has been encouraging to me in many ways. In my experience, KM is not well understood. Many confuse KM with IT and information management. Information is tangible and resides in media and networks. Knowledge is intangible and resides within individuals – the knowledge worker. On page 96 we have “People are the holders of this asset [knowledge] and the instruments of application”. On page 28 there is a phrase that really took my breath away – “Distributed leadership is the next evolution…knowledge work is changing structures and processes of organisational behaviour. We are evolving from hierarchical thinking to shared and distributed models of sense-making, decision-making, vision and leadership”.

Here is the powerful insight for me – as the knowledge economy is distributed and networked, it is plausible that the powerful institutions of the industrial age – governmental and business – and the many of the rules governing these institutions such as exclusivity, individualised or atomised responsibility – will be turned on their head. With distributed information and knowledge comes distributed responsibility over multiple levels and communities, regionally and internationally. Unless the enabling networks are controlled.


March 12, 2007 - Posted by | knowledge networks | , , ,

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