One of the recurring themes when talking about the discipline knowledge management is the knowledge society. This type of society marks a difference between its predecessors 'the industrialised society' and 'the information society'. I refer to it as predecessor, but have we already passed the information society? I believe we have not. So are we talking about an information society when talking about a knowledge society, and vice versa? Perhaps we do. And perhaps also something to blog about at a later stage. Right now, I just want to emphasise on a part of a knowledge society and that is its knowledge workers.
As factories move away from Europe, because labour is becoming too expensive, European organisations are focusing (or in some instances 'should be focusing') on innovation. Becoming innovative means opening new doors and entering new territories. To understand these new territories you should have the latest knowledge and therefore organisation should consist of knowledge workers. And this is where among other things knowledge management kicks in. In order to shift the paradigm within organisations to knowledge workers, there should be a good guidance on both the organisational structure and culture to create a space where knowledge workers can work, because these workers need to assimilate themselves to new abilities.
Some of the abilities that are required as knowledge workers are:
- they should be flexible in adapting to change
- open to multiple tolerated failure or in other words the apprentice model (because over time you develop better by making lots of small mistakes) - Thanks to Dave Snowden's latest keynote at KMWorld
- adaptive capacity
These abilities will assist organisations to becoming more innovative on the basis of emphasizing on knowledge workers. Dave Snowden highlights this in a great anecdote between a chef and the recipe book user. He states that "how many knowledge management programmes are being run on the basis of making recipes, rather than on the basis of creating chefs". And a chef is a knowledge worker, because out of deeply generated experience over time, he or she can adapt to any situation and still prepare the best dish, where a recipe book user should have the requirements mentioned in the book before getting close to prepare a recipe successful.
Link this with best practice and good practice programmes, and you know why most of the time knowledge management programmes failed to show its value