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July 30, 2006


David Locke

Bret why doesn't training transform the corporation into a learning organization without changing their label.

Can training really explicate knoweldge? No. Unless you are talking about knowledge within the training domain, rather than knoweldge in the domain of the firm. I'm sure the training domain explicates knowledge around how to train, but in a firm training for the most part is about the transferal of content, explicit knowledge at best.

The explication of implicit knowledge creates the explicit knowledge, the content, that training and others can diseminate. KM produces. Training consumes what KM produces, and then training produces what is consumed by the firm.

Since consumption by the firm really means consumption by the executive, KM probably sounds better than training. "Hey Joe, I'm going down to KM." KM sounds more proactive. That might be why everyone wants to claim that their discipline is KM. Hardly. The people actually doing KM are few and far between. The whole world claims to be doing KM. Almost nobody is doing KM even after all these years.

David Locke

Knowledge management is self defining. It is the management of knowledge. Because knowledge ends its life as explicit content, everyone in the content management field has tried to grab KM as their own, rather than explore the value adds of their own disciplines.

So KM has become a buzz word. KM has been hijacked.

KM was an attractive and interesting business issue, because knowledge and raw materials are used to create products to sell. The knowledge is embedded in those products. It's not about learning. It's not about content. That product might not come with training or a manual or any other kind of explicit knowledge. Knowledge management was suposed to be about production.

Since KM isn't about production, KM failed in the marketplace.

TQM, Kaban, the Toyota production system--that stuff was about knowledge. It wasn't about instructional design. It might be called learning, but its more a matter of research and explication, which is a form of learning, but not one that is instructionally designed. A lot of times the lessons are never explicated. They are explicated, so the explicated form can be transferred. Most of the time the implicit is transferred instead.

In IT, we have the concept of the TCO. Content is a cost, a negative use costs, as in distracting from production. Only classroom instruction has managed to push itself into the explicit negative use cost category, so it thrives. All other content consumption is implicit to the accounting system, which is to say "invisible waste." Most of the KM claims just increase this invisible waste.

Nobody out there today is actually managing knowledge. They manage content. Content is a cost. It is not a business-to-business opportunity.

dave Snowden

You should get involved Denham - I finally did and made some changes - the more the better



Don't know if you saw it, but Dave Snowden recounts his attempts at updating the KM entry on Wikipedia in Tales of a Wikipedia Virgin.

Simon Dueckert

I would like to add the view that knowledge management should aim at transforming an organization into a learning organization.

The learning organization consists of knowledge management (KM) and knowledge work (KW). A lot of frameworks and methods for KM and KW exist.

The transformation implies that change management and organizational development should also be core concepts.

Bill Kaplan

I believe it can be a simple defintion, but certainly not the only one: Let's say it's about:

connecting, collecting, and collaborating on what you know and what you need to know to improve your performance, individually, for your teams, and for your orgainzation.

Lauchlan M


Having written much of the material for the wikipedia article (and you linked to this blog page from wikipedia), my comments are that

(i) a wikipedia article is an article, not a book, and so can't cover everything. It will never cover all of everyone's pet subjects. There are a huge number of topics and authors within KM that someone would think should be covered.

(ii) Wikipedia is evolving. If you think the article needs improvement, improve it. But I suggest you respect the previous contributions, it's the easiest way to move things forward.

Lauchlan M

Here's my view of the history and future of KM, which I see as its definition:

The History and Future of KM

Romeo Pruno

It's very important project, for me is very important expand the concept of KM towards the relationships with social networkind and WEB 2.0!


I will return and read this with relish because I am one of those people who simply can't understand the existing definitions - I even blogged about it recently!


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