Why are knowledge management (KM) people determined to treat organizations as museums? How did KM become so corrupt as to focus on the collection and storage of information artifacts? Why has the obsolete 20th Century KM Establishment not recognized the utter collapse of archives, library science, information repositories, portals and other artifacts of ‘Museum KM?’
Of course record keeping is important for organizational hygiene. Good information management is critical for legal reporting, bookkeeping, accounting, transaction processing and routine organizational housekeeping. Thing is, collection and storage of information artifacts contributes nothing to the singular mission of enterprise KM – the creation of knowledge.
Knowledge management started in the late 1980s and early 1990s. KM fast became a widespread enterprise practice. The Harvard Business Review article that launched modern knowledge management was The Knowledge-Creating Company.
This seminal article led to the famous book a few years later, The Knowledge-Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation.
Professor Ikujiro Nonaka did not call his article The Knowledge-Collecting Company. Nor was it called The Knowledge-Harvesting Company or The Knowledge-Repository Company or The Knowledge Museum.
See Knowledge and the Firm from the prestigious California Management Review.
The book by Nonaka and his co-author Hirotaka Takeuchi that followed was not called The Knowledge-Capture Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Storage. It was called The Knowledge-Creating Company!
Why were none of the other silly titles chosen? Because ONLY knowledge creation delivers productivity growth, innovation and prosperity. Knowledge creation drives continuous performance and competitive advantage. Knowledge creation propels performance and innovation.
Authentic KM lasted only for a few precious years in the early 1990s. Then application vendors and gullible organizations flooded in. They began a painful and expensive two-decades of IT fiascoes called KM. Their enterprise repositories, employee portals and useless collections of so-called ‘best practices’ were comprehensive and abject failures.
Most these foolish IT application and process disasters have been abandoned. They added nothing to productivity, innovation, competitiveness or positive outcomes. That added nothing to the KM prerogative of knowledge creation.
Incredibly, some in the moribund KM Establishment still cling to their fallacious 1990s practices. They continue to perceive the modern organization as some 15th Century monastery.
One KM authority recently claimed the most important role of KM is to record and store ‘decision memory.’ That’s right, use information technology to preserve and institutionalize past decisions for posterity and call it KM. Others are foolishly using 15th Century accounting practices for KM. This is patently absurd. Beware.
The mission of an organization is not to curate past decisions and information in some monastic tradition. Fortunately, the musty KM Establishment is waning along with their feckless museum-style KM.
Meanwhile, KM is undergoing a massive pivot to 21st Century KM. New knowledge-creation KM inhabits a multidisciplinary array of excellence.
See California KM.
Leading this charge are proven, future-focused knowledge-creation activities. KM pillars of heuristics, narratives, stories, unlearning, situated cognition, appreciative inquiry and presencing are pervasive. Social networks, media and computing compose fundamental corporate KM strategies. Major KM leadership foundations of systems thinking, authentic conversation and complexity science are creating ferocious enterprise advantages.
Finally, KM is once again at the forefront of future-focused organizational performance, innovation and prosperity. Organizations have unleashed the enormous power of KM to once again Create The Future!