Integrated Whole

First, a bit of context. I have spent the summer (July and August 2021) listening to audiobooks and reading a few that weren’t available as audiobooks. Adding to my thinking on Radical KM and filling in some gaps that I have recognised in talking to people over the last year, since I came up with the name. I’ll put a book list at the bottom of this blog post.

The bits and pieces have been interesting and provided new insights and “ah-ha” moments, but I have struggled to make sense of how they fit together, even though it was clear to me on an intuitive basis that they did. Then this morning, upon waking, I had the insight I had been waiting for.

What Radical KM is, is a model for an integrated whole.

Western thought and philosophy divided things up, separated mind and body, the analytical and creative, science and the arts. It was efficient and effective, it was rational to do it that way. Emotions, and intuition didn’t get “in the way”, we could focus on the really concrete things, the things we had data and logic to support. It separated us from nature and has lead to the environmental and climate catastrophe that we are now facing.

In separating these activities and putting them in their own box, we have lost a lot of behaviours:

Sustainable mindset

  1. A sense of purpose
  2. Enlightened self-interest (considering others as well as ourselves)
  3. A Long-term orientation
  4. Presencing (achieving highest potential while staying in the present moment)
  5. Courage
  6. Integrity
  7. Open-mindedness
  8. Transparency

Systems Thinking

  1. See the bigger picture
  2. Appreciate the details
  3. Maintain a balance
  4. Keeping things simple

Relationship building

  1. Understanding across cultures
  2. Appreciate and embrace diversity
  3. Network
  4. Meaningful Dialogue
  5. Empower stakeholders
  6. Measure improvements

These are all behaviours that ideas and models like Agile, Design Thinking, “The New Work”, bringing your whole self to work, and authenticity, seek to re-ignite and bring into the workplace. They are what gets lost when we separate whole into the parts, they are the magic that happen in the space in-between the boxes.

As the world become more VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) these are the skills we need more of.

These are the skills we learn by tapping into our inner artist, whether that art is painting, or cooking, drawing or gardening, theatre or jogging. Art helps improve our attitudes around being curious, what we are passionate about, our confidence, and our resilience. By having an artistic practice our abilities to perceive, reflect, play, and perform are all improved.

Radical KM is about tapping into our inner artist to re-ignite these skills and abilities that have been ignored in favour of focusing on the concrete and rational. It’s about making us, our organisations, and ultimately our Western society whole again. It’s about making an integrated whole.

Appendix: Book list

  1. A New Culture of Learning: cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown.
  2. Artistic Interventions in Organisations: research, theory and practice; edited by Ulla Johansson Scöldberg, Jill Woodilla, and Ariane Berthoin Antal.
  3. Artful Creation: Learning-tales of Arts-in-business, by Lotte Darsø.
  4. Artful Making: what managers need to know about how artists work, by Rob Austin and Lee Devin.
  5. Creative Company: how artful creation helps organisations surpass themselves by Dirk Dobiéy and Thomas Koeplan.
  6. The Value of Arts for Business by Giovanni Schiuma.
  7. Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace by Gordon MacKenzie.

Additional books, from July and August 2021

  1. Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown M.D., and Christopher Vaughan
  2. A Whole New Mind: why right-brainers will rule the future by Daniel H. Pink
  3. Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative by Ken Robinson
  4. The Master and his Emissary by Iain McGilchrist
  5. The Lost Knowledge of the Imagination by Gary Lachman
  6. Invisible Women by Caroline Criado-Perez
  7. Leading from the Emerging Future: from Ego-system to Eco-system Economies by Otto Scharmer and Katrin Kaeufer
  8. Dance of Change by Peter Senge, Art Kleiner
  9. Spiral Dynamics Integral by Don Beck (abridged audiobook)
  10. Thinking in Systems: A Primer by Donella H. Meadows
  11. The Knowledge-Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation by Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi
  12. The Wise Company: how companies create continuous innovation by Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi
  13. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom Kelley, David Kelley
  14. Manifesto for a Moral Revolution: Practices to Build a Better World by Jacqueline Novogratz
  15. How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett
  16. Seven and a Half Lessons About the Brain by Lisa Feldman Barrett
  17. Power of Not Thinking by Simon Roberts
  18. Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art by Stephen Nachmanovitch
  19. The 4 Stages of Psychological Safety: Defining the Path to Inclusion and Innovation by Timothy R. Clark
  20. How the World Thinks: a global history of philosophy by Jullian Baggini
  21. The Silk Road: a new history of the world by Peter Frankopan

Radical KM, article published, course launched

My article on Radical KM was published on July 13, 2021 by the academic journal, Frontiers in AI, AI in business, in their research topic on Knowledge and Innovation Management. You can find the article here.

I am also partnering with KMI (KM Institute) to offer a certification in Radical KM. The course is one of their Knowledge Specialist courses and is called Creative Knowledge Management (we called it that because we felt it was a bit more descriptive). You can find out about the course on their website, here.

Radical KM: KMI Guest Blog posts

Over Spring 2021 I wrote a couple of Radical KM blog posts for KMI (Knowledge Management Institute) as well as did a couple of webinars to support the blogs.

You can find the blog posts here:
Part 1: What is Radical KM?
Part 2: Why you should care about Radical KM

The webinars:
Part 1: The recording is here.
Part 2: Planned for June 29, 2021, you can register here.

Finally, I am going to be doing a Radical KM Certified Knowledge Specialist course with KMI. We’re planning it for Fall 2021 and it will be done virtually. If you want to be notified about the class, the best thing to do is to sign-up for their newsletter, which you can do here.

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 @ (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.