It absolutely drives me crazy when people discuss: KM is Dead, will KM die during the current coronavirus pandemic, etc. For years I have tried to stress that the important part of KM is sharing knowledge, not the KM label. KM activities can be part of many different areas in an organizations and be referred to by many different labels. KM to me is a concept with the emphasis on the sharing and finding ways to facilitate that sharing in organizations to promote good decision making, collaboration, innovation.

Nancy Dixon

I am so glad that Nancy Dixon, long time KMer, agrees with me and expressed it so articulately:

“Taking the long view, I think KM will survive, but perhaps not in its current configuration nor with the “KM” label. Starting with Drucker’s, Post-Capitalist Society,1993 and Weick’s, Sensemaking in Organizations, 1995 there has been a growing understanding of the value of knowledge to organizations.  I was involved in Organizational Learning  (Dixon, The Organizational Learning Cycle, 1996), conversely called, The Learning Organization (Senge, The Firth Discipline, 1994) before the talk started about KM. From my perspective Organizational Learning became relabeled as KM.  

Even now, in organizations we see new labels being taken up that privileging knowledge.  Most of these labels use terms like “digital,” ”intelligence” or “learning” in some form. Already, many of us in SIKM are specialized in some aspect of KM, we are experts in Sharepoint, Big data, SNA, facilitation. My own practice has long been associated with designing conversations that both develop and transfer knowledge.

I think the importance and emphasis on knowledge will continue, but that we cannot hold the label too closely, or think of KM as something that must be a department or a separate part of the organization. It was helpful to start that way, with a dedicated group of smart KMer’s thinking about how to make the best use of an organization’s knowledge. But we may be nearing the end of that time and we can help create what is coming next. Maybe something that moves organizations into new organizational structures with paradigms based on our joint intelligence. (I’m thinking of Laloux’s Reinventing Organizations.)  It is exciting to think about what is possible with this valuable commodity to which we are all dedicated. “

Seth Earley

Thank you Nancy! I agree that KM is an evolving concept and goes by different names/labels at different times, but always refers to the processes and activities that allows people to share knowledge for decision making, collaboration, innovation and so much more! Today I listened to a webinar with Seth Earley, author of a new book called The AI-Powered Enterprise: Harness the Power of Ontologies to Make Your Business Smarter, Faster, and More Profitable and Tom Davenport, author of The AI Advantage: How to Put the Artificial Intelligence Revolution to Work. It was interesting to hear Tom say that both their roots are in KM. Now they are both more data oriented. Seth with ontologies, consistent naming, good data hygiene and text analytics which he says is now AI! Tom with big data, predictive analytics, machine learning, AI. Both Seth and Tom are into enabling data for knowledge sharing. Certainly the new tools like deep learning and neural networks, will help organizations mine, find, create and share knowledge but who knows what those activities will be labelled in the future. Doesn’t matter, it’s the knowledge sharing that matters! Join us at KMWorld later this year to discuss more!