Interview with Carl Jackson: of KM, social learning and creative design


I recently had the chance to co-facilitate an event dedicated to social learning together with Carl Jackson of Westhill Knowledge Group. Carl is a very good KM4Dev friend and a very knowledgeable person on knowledge management for development generally. He was front and centre in the organising team of the first ever annual KM4Dev event I had the chance to attend, in Brighton in 2006.

Carl kindly accepted to be interviewed about his views on the following:

  • What is KM to you and how does it relate to social learning (if at all)?
  • Where do you think KM is going (what fields is it moving towards) and where is its place in international development?
  • What are your current interests in KM and/or social learning (to do what?)
  • What do you recommend reading or who to get in touch to know more about all of this?

The video interview (3’37”) is totally not professional but the content is totally worth listening to.

The transcript follows below:

What is KM to you and how does it relate to social learning (if at all)?

For me knowledge management is really about how people come to realise the value of knowledge, irrespective of their position or of their level of authority. I think often it is about how organisations get to harness and value the knowledge assets in all kinds of places in the organisation or outside the organisation and in networks.

What’s interesting about social learning and how it relates to KM is it’s really pushing us out of this idea that KM is about looking at an individual organisation and the management of its own knowledge assets and thinking much more about knowledge is held within society more broadly and how people who come in with their professional hats also have knowledge from lots of other spheres of their life and other networks they can be bringing in to help us solve challenges that we’re facing in organisations so it’s making KM much more democratic and much more cultural.

Where do you think KM is going (what fields is it moving towards) and where is its place in international development?

I’ve seen KM become something which is now considered incredibly mainstream. It’s no longer considered to be an innovative thing that people are doing it’s like ‘hey well yeah we all do kinda knowledge management. There’s no particular cachet to be associated with it so now I think it’s much more around people trying to show how practically this is supporting the bread and butter that the organisations are doing.

Within international development I think one of the things where it’s most helpful is that a lot of organisations are working at national, regional and international scales whereas there is no particularly one place where you can go to access all the knowledge that you need. So KM within international development is about being very agile, accessing networks, building alliances and discovering knowledge in unexpected places.

What are your current interests in KM and/or social learning (to do what?)

At the moment, last kinda year I’ve been very excited around how we can start to use some of these ideas from ‘human-centred design’ or ‘collaborative design’ where it’s getting away from thinking of knowledge being primarily a textual or analytical thing and starting to invest in processes that are much hands-on, drawing on disciplines from architecture and design, to create spaces and processes which are creative hands-on innovations that unlock people’s potential to ex-temporise, to do things ‘ad lib’.

What do you recommend reading or who to get in touch to know more about all of this?

I’m not one for reading research papers, what I tend to do is to always rely on my colleagues from the KM4Dev community so seeing the blogs that are associated with KM4Dev and also any opportunity that I can get to work with or attend events that my friends in KM4Dev are part of in because they’re really cutting edge.

Carl Jackson: www.linkedin.com/in/carlwkg 

Westhill Knowledge Group: www.wkg.uk.net

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