Deconstructing KM with Barth

Denham Grey is excited about Steve Barth's upcoming Deconstructing Knowledge Management with Steve Barth at KnowledgeBoard (May 24th).

Steve levels these charges:

  • Right information, to right people at the right time - is the wrong focus
  • The quest to 'know what we know' or codification has failed to yield efficiency
  • Structure and processes imposed by KM have limited (natural) inquiry, creativity and awareness
  • KM tools have reduced cognitive effectivity

His critique is spot on. Process is a knowledge killer, information is about messages, knowledge is sense-making, awareness and learning, organization of information is NOT KM and capturing stuff in 'knowledgebases' has a proven poor ROI. Where do we go next?

For those who know Denham, his list of "where do we go" should sound very familiar: deep dialog, patterns, distinctions, relationships, trust, and creative abrasion.

The KnowledgeBoard announcement includes a link to a chapter Barth wrote on PKM, Self-Organization: Taking a Personal Approach to KM.  In it, he highlights the importance of dealing with one's own information and knowledge space.  Some, including Denham, argue that PKM isn't that interesting, that it's simply hyped-up information management.  Barth argues that information management is a key skill all on its own, but that PKM has to go beyond this to a set of principles around the information and ideas one deals with on a regular basis.  These principles come from the information literacy work of Paul Dorsey and others at Millikin University: Accessing, Evaluating, Organizing, Analyzing, Conveying, Collaborating and Securing.  (Unfortunately, the main Millikin PKM page seems to be missing.  There seems to be an older set in their content management system.  It looks like Dorsey is no longer at Millikin.)

2 Comment(s)

The Barth article is great! Thanks for the resource.

As far Denham's argument that PKM is just "hyped-up IM," I would suggest he read Daniel Pink's "A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers will Rule the Future." As Pink argues, being effective in today's world is more than just collecting information; it is the synthesis of the information into new knowledge that can be used for problem-solving. Thomas Homer-Dixon makes the same arguments in his "The Ingenuity Gap : Facing the Economic, Environmental, and Other Challenges of an Increasingly Complex and Unpredictable Future."

As Weicker has observed, all knowledge begins with the individual. Thus an organization's knowledge management system is dependent on the individual PKMs of its members.

tom sherman Author Profile Page said:

Not sure I like his take. Look where folksonomies have gotten us. Everyone today is so enamoured of "tagging" that there is little categorization, little organization. It's a funny example, but you should see how hard College Humor is to use now that they moved to tags and away from categories.

Process is not a knowledge killer. That's flat wrong. Process is about organizing information (perhaps not "knowledge") so it becomes useful. Who cares about archiving emails and IM's if it's not useful?

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