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.

Artistic Practice and Artistic Attitude: what do they mean?

The ideas I’m leveraging by using these terms come from “Creative Company” written by Dirk Dobiey and Thomas Köplin.

Artistic Attitude means being curious, passionate/ tenacious, confident, and resilient, while artistic practice embodies perception, reflection, play, and performance. These two ideas combine to be learning from the artistic experience of artists.

Artistic Attitude is about the mindset, and Artistic Practice is about the actual activities of looking at something and considering from all angles/sides, and asking questions, then thinking about it and combining it with what’s know and experimenting through play and ultimately performance. Especially the artistic practice piece looks like iterations of trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t.

Both Artistic Attitude and Artistic Practice also tie into other frameworks and methodologies, like New Work, Agile, and Design Thinking although those frameworks/ methodologies don’t make the connection with learning from artists.

(Note: Creative Company is available in both English and German and I co-edited the English version.)

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.

How to Approach Radical KM

Radical KM
Radical Knowledge Management

Radical KM is not analytical or creative, it’s both.

Much the same way that to be successful with the analytical side (traditional KM), one needs to work from both the bottom and the top of the organisation chart, to be successful with Radical KM, and therefore successful as we move further into the 21st century and the knowledge economy, we have to be successful with creativity as well as the analytical.

If and organisation believes it has the traditional KM side worked out, but needs help with the creative, then, focus on the creative and the integration points with the analytical, to bring them together.

If an organisation has the creative side figured out, then focus on the analytical and the integration points with the creative.

If both sides are immature, then create a strategy that includes both the analytical and creative and their integration points and move forward from there.

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.

Creativity Activities for Virtual Work

From March 17, 2020 until March 27, 2020 I ran a small online experiment demonstrating creative activities that could be done in virtual meetings. The sessions were 30 minutes long and had the same format, except that the main activity each day was different. These mini-workshop experiments were well received by participants, and I enjoyed doing them, so they are continuing through April 2020.

I started them as a way to help and that will continue to be their main objective.

Online meetings get boring and repetitive, and are even worse when our regular routines are as completely disrupted as they are right now. Adding short, creative activities to the meetings, not only adds variety and a bit of fun, but it can help relieve some of the pressure and stress, at least for a few minutes.

The videos from the mini-workshops are in a playlist on my YouTube channel, here.

The slides from the sessions are here.

There’s a short video wrapping up the first series and introducing the April series, here.

If you’d like to join the sessions during April, they take place daily at 4pm (16:00) CET on Zoom. Details are:

https://zoom.us/j/136891675?pwd=eCtZK3IzKzQ3QktXamxxYzlXcytxZz09
Meeting ID: 136 891 675
Password: 022145

I hope you’ll join us!

How your KM Program can help you for life after Coronavirus (COVID-19), part 2

Right now (March 2020), hopefully, your KM Program is helping people adjust to remote work. Helping them use the collaboration tools that maybe they’ve only used occasionally before. Helping them facilitate engaging, creative online meetings . But once the initial panic subsides and people become more accustomed to working remotely, what next?

Lots of organisations have KM programs that focus on the traditional KM activities, things like lessons learned, communities of practice, collaboration; activities that support learning and creating new knowledge, or managing and sharing knowledge that already exists. My ex-HP colleague, Stan Garfield, published a list/ presentation of all the things that can comprise a KM program, you can find his list here. It’s a good list, especially if you are new to the world of KM.

When KM is done well, it is pretty invisible. Nobody really thinks about it, and that’s okay, until, it isn’t. Do you have a KM program that is invisible or non-existent? Maybe this is the first time you’ve thought about KM, or maybe you have an existing KM program that is looking to evolve. If you are wondering about the future of your KM program, read on, if not, you can stop now.

Things are shifting at an accelerated pace and also, somehow slowing down; things are chaotic, to say the least. How do we manage that chaos and come through it better off? How do the skills and abilities that exist within the KM Program and those activities help an organisation come through our current, chaotic situation and not just survive, but thrive afterwards, and maybe even during?

How can the KM program help?

KM programs that are successful are about learning, and adapting; they use people, process, and technology to support the organisation in effectively and efficiently using its knowledge and creating new knowledge.

How do those skills apply in this situation, how can the KM program facilitate the successful navigation of the current crisis and help the organisation adapt so that it is ready for what comes after?

What does come after? Do we go back to the way things were? Are things permanently changed?

No one really knows, although lots of people have guesses, and there’s lots of wishful thinking out there. It probably won’t be “business as usual”, but what exactly it will be is anyone’s guess, and depends exactly what happens during this period and how long it goes on.

So, how does the KM program help? What skills and abilities can they share and help others develop that can help.

In my experience, people who are successful in KM are often good at these knowledge culture behaviours:
• sharing openly
• willingness to teach, mentor, coach
• ideas can be freely challenged
• knowledge and ideas can come from other sources (e.g. other departments, organisations, and industries) 
• sharing comes through many different means:  conversations, meetings, processes, best practices, data bases, and questioning

How can these behaviours be taught, if people don’t exhibit them already?

Well, there are lots of different ways people might learn the things that give them the ability to exhibit these behaviours, some of them are learned when we are children (like learning to share) and stick with us, and others are learned and then forgotten as life progresses and evolves. As adults, how do we remember these behaviours or maybe even learn them for the first time?

The best way is to learn through doing, having the experience or insight ourselves, in a safe, supportive environment.

A group of people who often exhibit many of these behaviours and who are experts at working alone, but also collaborating to get things done, when they need to, are artists.

Artists have an attitude of curiosity, passion, confidence, and resilience, which they refine and hone through their artistic practice: perceiving, reflecting, playing, and performing.

KM Programs should be working with HR and management to help develop these skills and abilities in their staff. Why KM? Because it’s about knowledge creation, it’s about sharing and learning: that’s KM.

Learning these skills and applying them to business problems helps solve problems that may have, at one time, seemed intractable. It helps to develop solutions that are new and innovative.

Other businesses are doing this, have learned this already, isn’t it time your organisation did too, so that you can come out of this crisis ready for whatever is next?

Note: If you want to see/read more about what is possible by adopting an artistic attitude and practice, read, “Creative Company” by Dirk Dobiéy and Thomas Köplin. You can find more info and get a copy, here