Why Joyful KM?

Because I think knowledge management has gotten too left-brained, too driven by technology and away from its knowledge sharing and organizational learning roots.

Knowledge Management is not about technology, it is about making connections that would not be made otherwise, it is about sharing what you know to help someone else, even if you do not know them.

Knowledge needs space to grow and spread and create and innovate, not processes that stifle it before it takes root.

Joyful Knowledge Management

Joyful knowledge management.

Yes, knowledge management is joyful, at least it is to me.

I enjoy it when I can find what I’m looking for: the answer to the question, the person who has done a project before and can share her/his experience and lessons learned with me. I enjoy pulling together the pieces to make a new picture, creating new pieces where necessary.

In fact, I think the creating is the best part, whether we’re talking about something that is completely new, something that is new to the organization, or something that is an improvement on something that has been done before (partly new).

How do we do that creating?

We can take a left-brained approach and use knowledge management activities, like expertise location systems, communities of practice, enterprise content management–processes and technology to help us find things that may be similar or provide a piece of the puzzle, activities that help make new/different connections.

We can take a right-brained approach and create space for knowledge creation activities like painting, drawing, photography, playing foosball, running, walking, swimming, playing squash. Activities that let us do something new, different, unexpected. Activities that create the space for us to make different connections and have different experiences rather than the “same old thing”.

I revel in the joy of finding a solution to a problem; I especially revel in it if it’s something new, different, unique. Something that someone else says, “wow, I’ve never thought of it that way before” or “I’ve been trying to figure that out for ages”.

I find things that I learn painting, helps me in my consulting, whether it’s to remind me of the importance of balance or giving things the time and space to develop into what they’re going to be.

This is joy, balanced, right-side, left-side, joy.

Joy with watermark sm

Knowledge by Design

I have been doing some more research, reading, and thinking about this creativity-innovation-knowledge management area and am coming to the realization that to a certain extent KM by design is what I’ve been doing all along, I’m just becoming more aware of it and kicking it up a notch.

Let me explain…

What I have been doing is knowledge (management) by design, and I say that because, I’ve always believed in looking at what knowledge activities were need to meet the needs of the organization  I’ve never said, “you need xyz technology, or you need a lessons learned process,” without understanding what the organization was trying to achieve with knowledge. I’ve always focused on the left-brain activities, the process, the activities, the technology, the information architecture, etc.

What I’m incorporating now is more right-brain thinking, which takes me and my knowledge management consulting into the innovation and creativity arena and making space for knowledge creation–ba, to use the term made familiar in Nonaka’s knowledge management work and writing.

How am I going to do that? Through having people do right-brain activities in the workshops that I run, but also by working with organizations to include more of these kinds of activities in their daily activities.

Opening up space for knowledge creation and innovation leads to enhanced productivity, collaboration, employee engagement, thought leadership, and sense of community.

This isn’t to the exclusion of lessons learned, and information architecture, etc. it’s a balancing out of both sides of the brain: the detailed, tactical with the strategic, problem solving.

Knowledge by Design.

Engaging in Knowledge Management an Artistic Work

As I continue to develop my ideas around the intersection of knowledge management and creativity, I picked up a book called Engaged Knowledge Management by Kevin Desouza and Yukika Awazu as I believe that being creative leads to greater engagement, plus a client had recently had an email exchange about some engagement issues he was having with the KM program at his organization. The book was really meant to give me some more ideas of things to suggest to him, other than change management and alignment with processes–pretty left-brained stuff.

I started at chapter 2 and was immediately caught by the metaphor the authors use about KM being a balance of tensions, much like a work of art and I thought, “ah ha, I love this book already!”

The authors describe knowledge management as both art and work because of the balance that has to be struck between having imagination and vision about what a knowledge-based organization should look like–identifying its attributes and its dimensions and how all the pieces fit together and how to construct/execute that vision.

They talk about what happens when the balance isn’t balanced and the dysfunction that results and the failure that it leads to. They say we (knowledge managers) need to promote  the art side through creativity, decentralization, and looseness in control. Then to enable the work side we need to control the process, and centralize.

When I read these words, I reflected on projects that have been successful and those that have not, and realized that the ones that were successful were the ones that were okay with this balancing act between loose and tight, decentralized and centralized, left and right brained.

I am on the right track with thinking about KM like this, in this creative context and am excited to find that some others have gone before me with some of these thoughts, so I can build on their ideas and take them another step further.