Knowledge Challenges to go

NetIKX Meeting in November 2013

The November NetIKX meeting was full of surprises. The two excellent speakers, David Skyrme and David Budzak, were both aware that NetIKX is now completing its 21st year (though not under that name all the time), so they gave us lively and insightful content, fitting for the occasion.

First we were hit with the question: Why is Shakespeare still relevant today?  That helped us focus on why knowledge management is still hanging around, despite being defined as last year’s fad, and given its funeral rites, many times.  Then we were given a run through of knowledge management’s history to show it shared, with Shakespeare, a timeless value!

Knowledge management has clear importance for improving organisational efficiency and cost reductions and for risk management.  So, taking ideas from both speakers and mixing them together in my personal take on the meeting, here are some of my learning outcomes.

Data, information and knowledge are still the foundations of knowledge management, but they are so interdependent, that it makes no sense to try to consider them separately.   Knowledge and information professionals like me usually have to get stuck in to managing all three.

You can get wonders from technology. (As an example: did you know you can commission a drone to take a camera up in the sky to capture your environment on film, if you don’t find Google maps to your taste.  Although apparently, you can’t control it yourself, only pay for it to follow a route of your choice).  And wikis are a tremendously valuable way to share knowledge that we could use more often.  But using old technology need not be marginalised where it is appropriate, such as maps stuck on walls, or posters of screen shots that show exactly how inefficient and wasteful those duplicate documents are.

Our biggest current KM challenge, according to a recent survey, is how organisations use social media and mobile technology.  One speaker pointed out that mobiles are like tracking devices – we willingly, perhaps naively, carry them round, giving others the power to know when we come and where we go – even when we go to the loo!

Addressing the question that is often uppermost in our minds, how to involve CEO’s with the value of knowledge management, there was an amusing suggestion.  The rather lovely metaphor (or was it?) was – ‘they like primary colours!’   So make your presentations suitably vibrant.  Also get fully involved in the business – and again a suggestion with very neat wording – ‘go to meetings you are not invited to!’

David raised eyebrows by calling one of the ages of knowledge management – chaos!  Danny wanted us to make knowledge less nebulous and more knowable.  Culture change takes time, while technology moves fast, so soon systems that seemed innovative at the time become an indispensable part of everyday life and even seem banal.  That is when they becomes really powerful.

I hope I have conveyed some of the spice of the talks we heard.  We followed the speakers by taking part in a discussion where we again did some mixing, this time of ideas from our very varied backgrounds – in private, public and all other types of organisations  – so we could share our ideas and thoughts.  It was a wonderful meeting with a clear call to action.  Knowledge and Information Professionals – stop being timid and paint the value of knowledge in those primary colours!

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