It is just 9h00 in the morning and I already got frustrated twice. It is not the weather that makes me annoyed. NO!
First I read an article about a recent OECD report. This report contains a 'easy-to-digest' list of countries. The higher a country is placed on the list, the better it is doing in innovation. Innovation could be seen as the end-product of two important disciplines 'learning' and 'knowledge sharing'. So if a country is performing bad on this list, one of the conclusions can be that innovation, knowledge and learning are underperformed. This is exactly what is happening with Denmark. Denmark moved from place 6 to place 12.
On one side this can be seen as an opportunity because knowledge-societies such as Denmark understand the importance of learning and innovation. They understand that without controlling innovation, it becomes difficult to compete on a global market. It feels like falling in between two stools: between the knowledge societies that outperform you with innovation and new knowledge and the industrial societies that outperform you with the production of cheap products. Do Western countries have a choice to become or a knowledge society, or a industrial society? No, they don't! Western countries were already once on the path of an industrial society. They were successful, but with the globalisation it cannot bring any future anymore. Therefore are Western countries focusing on the knowledge society.
However, on the other side, creating an opportunity out of this development is far from easy for many of the professionals. Some days ago I already showed my frustration about the implementation of SharePoint. It is exactly what happened with KM in the period 1995-2001. Let's first describe what happened when KM was seen as a fad management disicipline:
What will happen with the organisation if all the senior people are leaving at the same time? This would cause a knowledge-drain and, of course, organisations began to look for opportunities to maintain their knowledge. Initially, the aim of this strategy was the change knowledge from an organisational liability to an organisational asset. Organisations started to optimise the delivery of existing organisational knowledge to staff members so that they can function successfully in organisational processes. This is why technology has played such a dominant role in KM to date. Consequently, consulting firms and software developers jumped into the market of total KM and the discipline took off as a technical solution. However, KM failed to show its value. Organisations had spent a large amount of money on setting up the technology to capture and codify knowledge, but unfortunately - in most cases - the technology was not being used. Hence, KM had neglected the social-cultural factors.
Even though this is a story from more than 10 years ago, it can still be applied. It is SharePoint that is now being used in many of the organisations to run KM initiatives. But what is KM? It is no longer key to control information or knowledge, but it is key to get it moving in the organisation. Therefore, knowledge management is already giving a wrong impression what it should do. We need to see it as knowledge facilitation, or just in plain English: learning. In my eyes, Dave Snowden is describing this perfect:
The purpose of Knowledge Management is to provide support for improved decision-making and innovation throughout the organization. This is achieved through the effective management of human intuition and experience augmented by the provision of information, processes and technology together with the training and mentoring program
This weblog post also answers the question I received today: is KM still alive in the Netherlands? No, if we are repeating history. Yes, if we grasp the the meaning of the KM discipline: facilitating learning so that staff members quickly can make sense of and decide over a new problem/opportunity.