Theknowledgecore's Blog

Complexity and Knowledge Management Navigators…

Knowledge Management – Speaking without listening

I’ve been involved in a number of conversations lately about a common language for KM, which has been stimulated by interesting articles and comments, such as the one to my last blog by Md Santo who says:

‘We coined Human System Biology-based KM terminology : KLC=KM Tools, KMC=KM Process Framework and KHC=KM Standards or Culture and Value Management’

My problem with this type of approach to KM is that we as theorists/practitioners introduce concepts into the field without considering how we will operationalise them. I’m not pointing the finger and saying that is the case here, but the field is awash with ‘new’ terminology, which seems to stimulate confusion and breed dissatisfaction.

A good example of this is the work of Holsapple & Joshi who in 2004 attempted to present a taxonomy for KM practitioners and academics to deliver:

‘a common vocabulary and frame of reference that can enhance the communication and sharing of ideas among practitioners’ (p. 609).

They developed this ‘unifying’ vocabulary using a ‘delphi-like ’ process involving 31 of what could be considered to be some of the Northern Hemisphere’s most recognised KM theorists and practitioners (Larry Prusak; Karl Sveiby; David Skyrme; Karl Wiig).  However there appears to be a fundamental flaw in their approach.  One of their stated goals was to develop a unified language for the field, but the panel was heavily biased towards United States and United Kingdom participants, with only one representative from outside of a European-United States alliance, being Australia.  Whilst the research is nonetheless interesting it would appear to be invalid.  For how can any researcher be prepared to announce a common vocabulary without considering and testing the findings against the global views of the collective KM community.  This is perhaps reflected in the apparent lack of recognition for this taxonomy in the body of KM literature since its publication.

And that for me is our problem in this field.  As theorists we try too hard at times to influence the collective without first listening to the collective – In Holsapple & Joshi’s case it wasn’t a fair representation of the collective.  If we look at KM literature it is for the most part founded on single narrative driven research, Holsapple & Joshi being a rare exception – We’ve conducted an enquiry in this area and I’ll post the findings in a later blog – when perhaps what we need is more evidence-informed research?

I love the debate that this field stimulates, but I do believe there to be a need to listen so we might better inform our thinking before speaking.  In this way we might have a real chance of improving performance in the field.

[Just another day and another point of view… It’s free, so take it for what it’s worth]

So, what do you think?

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This entry was posted on May 4, 2010 by in Organisational Development.
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