It is perhaps the defining question of our time: How to tackle the complex, interrelated challenges of the 21st century in a coherent and effective way?
The answer, I am convinced, lies in what I call the diplomacy of knowledge, defined as our ability and willingness to work together and share our learning across disciplines and borders.
When people achieve the right mixture of creativity, communication and co-operation, remarkable things can happen.
I was pleased to come across this article by David Johnston, the Governor-General of Canada. It's a question I ask myself almost every day. What David Johnston refers to as the "diplomacy of knowledge" is to me what KM should be all about.
David makes some excellent points in his article though I must admit I have sympathies with one of the commenters who says "A nice Pollyanna, apple pie, motherhood essay."
Working together and sharing together across disciplines and borders as David advocates is good but I don't think sufficient. There is something fundamental missing. I believe Peter Block is thinking along the right lines when he says we need to change our thinking about what constitutes action.
My belief is that the way we create conversations that overcome the fragmented nature of our communities is what creates an alternative future.
This can be a difficult stance to take for we have a deeply held belief that the way to make a difference in the world is to define problems and needs and then recommend actions to solve those needs.
We are all problem solvers, action oriented and results minded. It is illegal in this culture to leave a meeting without a to-do list.
We want measurable outcomes and we want them now.
What is hard to grasp is that it is this very mindset which prevents anything fundamental from changing.
We cannot problem solve our way into fundamental change, or transformation.
This is not an argument against problem solving; it is an intention to shift the context and language within which problem solving takes place.
Authentic transformation is about a shift in context and a shift in language and conversation. It is about changing our idea of what constitutes action.
Interesting thoughts. I am thinking about the role my Knowledge Cafes could play in this.