Radical KM, a story

Radical KM: why your organisation needs it now

Meet Sam, Chief Knowledge Officer at Widget Inc. she’s been working in knowledge management for more than 20 years, she’s passionate and knowledgeable and knows what it takes to be successful with knowledge management

Sam knows that there are lots of reasons to do knowledge management, but she also knows that her CEO’s favourite reasons are that knowledge is the only asset that grows when it’s shared—if she shares how to make a cake with you, you both now know how to make a cake, she doesn’t lose the ability to make a cake because she’s shared it with you. Tangible assets, like buildings and roads decrease in value because of wear and tear and will need to be maintained or replaced.

The second reason, and her CEOs favourite, is that knowledge management has been shown to have a positive impact on the stock market performance of an organisation. That is, the better an organisation does with its knowledge management activities, the better it performs on the stock markets.

With all the changes that have taken place in the last 20 years, plus the confusion and complexity introduced with the pandemic, Sam has been wondering how to adapt her KM activities to meet the needs of these changes. She hears about VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) everywhere, and certainly her organisation is not immune to VUCA.

Sam also hears a lot about how people need to be creative, and she’s noticed that creativity underlies a lot of other in-demand skills. She knows that creativity is what differentiates humans from technology and that creative practices and attitudes support both creative and sustainable leadership behaviours.

Sam knows that creativity is something that’s been educated out of us (certainly hers was in her quest to get good marks and a good job) and yet our organisations are in dire need of it because it fuels innovation and growth. On a personal level creativity also improves resiliency and helps cope with stress, something everyone could use in the current state of the world.

Knowing all these things has resulting in Sam’s being stuck, she doesn’t know what to do; she’s trying to figure out how to support the organisation through the current upheaval caused by the pandemic and other global events but there is so much noise, and so many people trying to “get back” to how things are, but Sam knows there’s no going back, that the organisation and the world need to adapt and move forward to a new normal.

One day, Sam was scrolling through the knowledge management tag on LinkedIn and came across a post about something called Radical KM and got very curious; she read a couple of articles and watched a recording of a webinar.

She discovered that Radical knowledge management takes people, process, and technology as they have always existed in knowledge management and adds creativity, and that creativity is a multiplier. It can be included anywhere there are knowledge management activities that involve people, which is most of them.

She learned about an organisation that had implemented the ideas encapsulated in Radical KM. The organisation had improved collaboration and trust, and they had been able to solve what had seemed to be intractable problems.

Radical KM focuses on the people component of KM. The creative activities it advocates for can help build relationships and help people get out of their boxes and look at a situation differently, coming up with new connections and ideas.

The MBA in her thought that adding creativity seemed counterintuitive. After all, western society been focused on being analytical and rational for hundreds (if not thousands of years). However, being analytical and logical is what got the world into the unsustainable situation that we find ourselves in. So, while it may not be analytical and logical and it may seem counterintuitive, it also seemed to be exactly what is needed.

Sam recognised that we need space for creativity in our organisations and our lives if we are going to be balanced and sustainable. Knowledge and continuous learning needs space for reflection so that people can make different connections and come up with new, innovative ways of resolving this the unsustainable situation.

Sam recalled Einstein’s words about ‘the thinking that got us into this situation is not the thinking that will get us out’ and realised that Radical KM and creativity might just be the shift in thinking that will get us out of this mess.

Sam decided to start piloting Radical KM and gather data and success stories so that when she spoke with the CEO, at the next quarterly meeting she would have the beginnings of a great story to tell.

Be like Sam, start your Radical KM pilot now.

Radical KM: a journey

(A story about Radical KM)

Meet Sam, Chief Knowledge Officer at Widget Inc. she’s been working in knowledge management for more than 20 years, she’s passionate and knowledgeable and knows what it takes to be successful with knowledge management

Sam knows that there are lots of reasons to do knowledge management, but she also knows that her CEO’s favourite reasons are that knowledge is the only asset that grows when it’s shared—if she shares how to make a cake with you, you both now know how to make a cake, she doesn’t lose the ability to make a cake because she’s shared it with you. Tangible assets, like buildings and roads decrease in value because of wear and tear and will need to be maintained or replaced.

The second reason, and her CEOs favourite, is that knowledge management has been shown to have a positive impact on the stock market performance of an organisation. That is, the better an organisation does with its knowledge management activities, the better it performs on the stock markets.

With all the changes that have taken place in the last 20 years, plus the confusion and complexity introduced with the pandemic, Sam has been wondering how to adapt her KM activities to meet the needs of these changes. She hears about VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) everywhere, and certainly her organisation is not immune to VUCA.

Sam also hears a lot about how people need to be creative, and she’s noticed that creativity underlies a lot of other in-demand skills. She knows that creativity is what differentiates humans from technology and that creative practices and attitudes support both creative and sustainable leadership behaviours.

Sam knows that creativity is something that’s been educated out of us (certainly hers was in her quest to get good marks and a good job) and yet our organisations are in dire need of it because it fuels innovation and growth. On a personal level creativity also improves resiliency and helps cope with stress, something everyone could use in the current state of the world.

Knowing all these things has resulting in Sam’s being stuck, she doesn’t know what to do; she’s trying to figure out how to support the organisation through the current upheaval caused by the pandemic and other global events but there is so much noise, and so many people trying to “get back” to how things are, but Sam knows there’s no going back, that the organisation and the world need to adapt and move forward to a new normal.

One day, Sam was scrolling through the knowledge management tag on LinkedIn and came across a post about something called Radical KM and got very curious; she read a couple of articles and watched a recording of a webinar.

She discovered that Radical knowledge management takes people, process, and technology as they have always existed in knowledge management and adds creativity, and that creativity is a multiplier. It can be included anywhere there are knowledge management activities that involve people, which is most of them.

She learned about an organisation that had implemented the ideas encapsulated in Radical KM. The organisation had improved collaboration and trust, and they had been able to solve what had seemed to be intractable problems.

Radical KM focuses on the people component of KM. The creative activities it advocates for can help build relationships and help people get out of their boxes and look at a situation differently, coming up with new connections and ideas.

The MBA in her thought that adding creativity seemed counterintuitive. After all, western society been focused on being analytical and rational for hundreds (if not thousands of years). However, being analytical and logical is what got the world into the unsustainable situation that we find ourselves in. So, while it may not be analytical and logical and it may seem counterintuitive, it also seemed to be exactly what is needed.

Sam recognised that we need space for creativity in our organisations and our lives if we are going to be balanced and sustainable. Knowledge and continuous learning needs space for reflection so that people can make different connections and come up with new, innovative ways of resolving this the unsustainable situation.

Sam recalled Einstein’s words about ‘the thinking that got us into this situation is not the thinking that will get us out’ and realised that Radical KM and creativity might just be the shift in thinking that will get us out of this mess.

Sam decided to start piloting Radical KM and gather data and success stories so that when she spoke with the CEO, at the next quarterly meeting she would have the beginnings of a great story to tell.

Be like Sam, start your Radical KM pilot now.

Radical KM, Published Article

One of my articles on Radical KM has been published by the GfWM (Gesellschaft für Wissensmanagement) or Society for Knowledge Management here in Germany as part of a collection of articles celebrating the 20th Knowledge Camp. You can download the PDF or read it online, here.

I have another version that will be published in 2021, it’s a bit longer, and a third version that I keep adding to, and which is heading towards being a book, although it has a long ways to go.

Why RADICAL knowledge management?

Why “radical” and not something else? Which definition of radical do I mean?

Radical has three definitions that are all relevant for Radical KM (taken from Oxford Learners Dictionary):
1. relating to the most basic and important parts of something; complete and detailed
2. new, different and likely to have a great effect
3. in favour of extreme and complete political or social change

Why do all three of them apply? Because knowledge management must include all aspects of knowledge (creation, curation, learning, un-learning, re-learning, and sharing), and two of the things that are most important for this are curiosity and critical thinking. Both of these have been lost through the focus on efficiency and effectiveness, and trying to be logical/rational/analytical while ignoring the creative and emotional, but if we are truly going to manage knowledge then we need to re-introduce the creative and emotional: humans are not machines.

Bringing creativity into knowledge management and helping our organisations embrace both the creative and analytical is critical to their success and the individuals who comprise them. That is radical and will have a great effect and will bring about change in ourselves and our organisations.

In addition to the 3 meanings of radical, radical has an interesting origin. From Merriam Webster, we learn that radical originally meant “root“, so by returning creativity to our knowledge processes we can consider that we are returning to our roots. Roots, which were playful and creative: that’s how we learned when we were children. It wasn’t until later, when we went to school, that this learning by doing was replaced by learning by reading. Going back to our roots means re-learning that creativity that has been ignored. Knowledge management has a role to play in that, hence Radical Knowledge Management.

Creativity, Scrum, Agile, and Design Thinking

In the spring I completed Scrum Master certification (PSM I), and right now I am taking a design thinking course. I had delayed both of these courses because they describe the way I work anyway, and I couldn’t see the point of wasting time and money on them. So, why am I doing them now? Because they keep coming up in discussions I’m having, so I thought I would see what all the fuss is about.


They’re both frameworks/methodologies, and useful, as far as they go, but what occurred to me as I worked on the Design Thinking course, was that they are both trying to teach people to be more innovative and creative, to be more curious, however, they have taken an analytical approach to innovation and creativity, to monetize it, I suppose. These frameworks have taken the space for reflection out, the space for emotion out, just like our education systems, they have taken the creative out of being creative and made it analytical. 


If we really want to be creative, we need to engage the creative parts of our brains, not the parts that do analysis and process work. We need to engage the whole person, not just half, and that’s what Radical KM does. It recognises that the creative has been disengaged and forgotten, and it needs to be re-learned and re-engaged if we are truly going to be creative and change the ways our organisations function.


If we want our organisations to reap the benefits that agile and design thinking promote, we need to make space for true creativity, not just creativity that’s been analysed to death.

What does it mean to integrate creativity with knowledge management?

What do I mean when I say, “integrate creativity with knowledge management”?

Well, the first thing I want to say is that in some cases I may use business/organisation instead of knowledge management, they are not necessarily interchangeable. I will tend to use knowledge management if it is specific to a knowledge management activity and business/organisation if it’s more general, in practice, they may look very similar and difficult to distinguish. That is due, in part, to the fact that I think knowledge management should be integrated with the business/organisational processes and activities and not something separate.

Okay, now on with the integration of creativity with KM/business/organisation.

Easy to do
In the simplest terms, this is doing things like quick creative ice breakers at the beginning of meetings. This includes things like a short meditation, or short drawing or improvisational games. There are all kinds of things that you can do, there are books available that are filled with possibilities, I have also created an online course which has 7-8 different activities in it that you can do online or in person.

Moderately integrated
At the next level there are longer activities that you can use for different purposes and longer meetings. The ones you choose really depend on what you are trying to achieve, and they can take from 30 minutes to 2 hours or more. My favourite book for these activities is Linda Naiman’s, “Orchestrating Collaboration at Work: Using music, improv, storytelling and other arts to improve teamwork“, which is available from her website or Amazon.

Advanced integration
Then we move to more advanced activities like setting up a studio in your office and staffing it with someone. The person acts as a catalyst/artist in residence and can facilitate workshops or coach individuals on a one-to-one basis.

You may also want to consider training, like Applying Creativity to Business

If you are curious about any of these options feel free to comment on this post or contact me directly at stephanie @ realisation-of-potential.com (take out the spaces).

See also: Radical KM and blog posts.

Radical KM: analytical and creative

Radical KM is the evolution of knowledge management.

Focusing on the division of labour, the compartmentalisation of knowledge, and treating knowledge work like it is part of a production line has led us to a place where work is not sustainable. It is time to do things differently, embracing the things that have been forgotten, ignored, and laid aside. Encouraging people to use all of their creative and analytical skills by incorporating art and artistic practice back into our organisations is a way of moving forward in a sustainable, wholistic way.

Adopting artistic attitudes and practices and integrating them with our knowledge age work, creates: Radical Knowledge Management. It enables the adoption of agile/flexible behaviours and culture change which in turn allows the digital transformation of our organisations, so that they are successful in our knowledge age future.

Radical KM
Radical Knowledge Management

Knowledge management has a significant role to play in this future, it needs to step up and take-on this leadership role and embrace Radical Knowledge Management.

See also: Radical KM

It’s Time for Knowledge Management to Evolve

There is no value in knowledge management, the value is in the learning and experience.

When I started out in knowledge management 20+ years ago, I defined knowledge management as the people, processes, and technology that allowed people to have the knowledge they needed when and where they needed it. It encompassed all three of people, process, and technology, not one or two of those things, and technology was an enabler, not the goal. Change management was a significant component as was having a strategy, working cross-functionally, and involving the various users and stakeholders that were involved and affected by what we were doing.

These ideas still hold true, but there has been a significant shift, because over the last 20 years what has become important isn’t finding the knowledge that has been written down and somehow codified, it’s not even about finding the person who knows what you need to know—although again, these are still useful and necessary, they are, however, not enough.

With the pace of change, and the constant evolution of what we know, as well as the uncertainty and, dare I say, chaos, that exists in our lives today—whether work life or personal life, what is necessary for knowledge management is knowing how to learn; knowing how to question; knowing how to discover.

Knowledge is no longer as static as it once was, and it has become increasingly context sensitive. We need to have the confidence to jump into the void and figure out what we need to know. That can, in part, be through referencing explicit knowledge, or finding the tacit knowledge, but it is increasingly through trial and error. Using what’s we know as a launch pad and iteratively discovering what works in our given situation.

Knowledge Management in 2020 is not about big programs and investments in technology, it is about how to take what you know and get started, discovering what you need to know as you go, one step at a time. The investment is smaller, and you’ll get there faster and more sustainably if you adopt these behaviours.

Knowledge management isn’t knowledge management, it’s continuous learning. It’s flexibly pivoting to adjust to a new environment, a new context, a new set of circumstances. It’s not being stymied by change, it’s embracing it. It’s experimenting to learn new behaviours and techniques and transferring those skills to new areas.

We do this through not just knowing, but through doing/making/experiencing, and, most importantly, through playing and engaging both the analytical and the creative.

Transformation Through Creativity

I have 3 courses/programs released into the wild, the theme through all of them is: Transformation Through Creativity. Details follow

1. Transform yourself:
A Creative Pause: mindfulness through art https://coursecraft.net/courses/z9269
Do you crave a pause during the day to re-energise you and bring you focus? A Creative Pause: mindfulness through art gives you that pause. We will lead you through creative activities that will bring you back to the moment and give you that break you need.

2. Transform your meetings:
Creative Activities for Virtual Work
https://coursecraft.net/courses/z921g 
Would you like to learn some ice breakers to improve the experience in your online meetings? “Creative activities for virtual work” will teach you seven ice breakers that will make your meetings more engaging.

3. Transform your organisation:
Applying Creativity to Business
https://www.realisation-of-potential.com/acb/
Applying creativity to business engages the whole person, thus enabling the development of solutions to transform your organisation.