Blog Post

What is the function of KM?

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 19 November 2011



What is the function of KM?
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 137
Posted DateSaturday 19 November 2011 13:55 GMT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen
Linkshttp://www.cognitive-edge.com/blogs/dave/2011/11/_forever_bl ... 
CategoriesKnowledge Management; Narrative
PeopleDave Snowden

I am a big fan of the work and thinking of Dave Snowden and follow his talks and blog posts quite closely.

For a long time he has been making the point that Knowledge Management should be about supporting effective decision making and creating the conditions for innovation but in a recent post that mainly dealt with What is the function of KM?, he added a third point that I have clipped below.
  • Firstly, to support effective decision making ...

  • Secondly, we need to create the conditions for innovation ...

  • Thirdly, knowledge management is all about communication and that doesn't just mean the top down focus that is all too common place, although it does permit it. Dealing with uncertainty often focuses on things like values and mission statements. However writing your values down means that you have just lost them. All you have done is teach people the language of power and it will come back to you in slide presentations and proposals. The Bible teaches through parables, stories that carry necessary ambiguity and hence adaptability but you can't talk your way out of their message.

    This is the key switch from managing rule base cultures, to enabling an ideation culture. That means understanding the micro-narratives of day to day conversations, sensing the evolutionary potential of the system. It can also involve the use of metaphor. Like the parables referenced above, metaphors carry with them essential ambiguity and adaptability which paradoxically allows them to me more precise in day to day communication both up and down.

    Narrative is a broad field that too many people seek to narrow and its a lot more sophisticated in both theory and practice than many people would have you believe.

    Its also about how we use technology to link and connect people in different ways

I don't think Dave means to imply an order in these three points but I would put communication first as connecting people, improved communication and better conversations ultimately leads to effective decision making and innovation.

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
David Gurteen

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