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.

How is your KM Program Helping you Through the Chaos of Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Do you see your KM program as a key partner in your strategy to deal with the chaos of Coronavirus or just an extra, a nice to have, a luxury, and not a serious component of your business and emergency preparedness strategies?

If you see them as a key partner, are they helping you with disaster planning/emergency preparedness? Are they making sure everyone has access to the same knowledge and information when they are working from home as when they are in the office?

Are they making sure people know how to use the tools at their disposal for collaboration, knowledge creation, and sharing?

Are they helping you map key knowledge resources within your organisation?

Are they making sure the knowledge that can be documented is? How about retention, are they helping you make sure that knowledge is retained and protected?

Are they helping you prepare for the time in the future, when all of this is a distant memory in a couple of years. The future of work is here, KM can take a lead and help facilitate the change.

Now is the time to be engaging KM in these activities, not later, not “when things calm down”, now. There is no good time, start now, take the first step now.