Where is KM and its spirit?


Is it dead?

Is it dying? (link pending on KM4Dev Dgroup membership)

Is it in comms?

Is it in my work?

Is it in my head? 

KM, connecting people, conversations and traces (Credits: CENews)

KM, connecting people, conversations and traces (Credits: CENews)

The danger of terms like knowledge management is their undue mystifying power. It means many things to many people. And it tends to confuse everyone – much like the term ‘knowledge’ itself anyway.

But the point is simple – and rather than define KM, let’s rather look at some key situations when ‘KM is inside‘.

  • When you want to stop talking at people, when you want to disrupt one-sided communication and you want all people to engage in meaningful conversations with each other, to share knowledge, whether offline or online, you’re doing KM (well, KS, but that’s party of KM). When you want them to collaborate, online or offine, as an additional measure of engagement, you’re doing KM;
  • When you make sure everything that is talked about or produced can be found again, easily, accessibly, at all times, by all kinds of people and not just those that were involved in the first place, you’re doing KM (well, technically information management but it’s part of it);
  • When you want everyone involved in the work to learn, individually and collectively, when you want to connect all the thinking dots together to discover the next useful questions, through communities of practice, engaging events and processes, multi-stakeholder platforms, learning forums, capacity development initiatives, you are doing KM.

Either of these areas on its own is not worth much. But the combination is terrific.

There is no need to separate KM from communication. There is no need to put KM on a pedestal, what matters is the areas and principles it stands for, roughly around conversations, documentation and learning. KM = CDL, on the journey to universal sense-making.

But the danger is that by not paying attention to what KM stands for, we forget to ensure these principles and areas of work are part and parcel of our approach, and we come back to the realm of egoism, ignorance, bickering, nepotism, chaos…

I feel smarter already, I think (Credits: Van Corry/FlickR)

I feel smarter already, I think (Credits: Van Corry/FlickR)

It’s as simple as that.

So keep smart work up, and make sure that in whatever form or shape, the spirit of KM is inside, like the genie in the bottle.

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2 thoughts on “Where is KM and its spirit?

  1. Hello Mintesnot,

    And thank you for this and your other comment!
    I hope it helps a bit, I don’t think I’ve demystified KM, but the point is really to stop making a fuss about what KM is and to understand what it tries to do.

    As for finding good examples of KM in organisations, it depends which aspect of KM you’re looking it. If you take the whole, it sure is quite difficult to find excellent examples, but I know of a few that (programs and organisations) are doing something to do justice to KM, even in the ivory tower heaven that CGIAR can be at times. Would be great to talk about this face to face some time!

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