4 March 2011

LIKE 22: What is Knowledge Management - really?

LIKE returned to its roots in February with a discussion on what we mean by the term Knowledge Management.

It may seem like a well worn road with little prospect of discovering anything new but more than forty people thought otherwise and the meeting was soon oversubscribed and had a waiting list.
Those lucky enough to get a place started to fill the upstairs room at The Crown Tavern on Clerkenwell Green, the new home of LIKE and a decent pub in its own right, particularly if you like real ale as much as I do.

I was beer and juice monitor for the evening which meant I was allowed to wear a LIKE badge. As always the badge had the last laugh and pricked me viciously despite my attempts to restrain it in a spectacles case.

It was during these somewhat less than onerous duties that it was suggested that I top and tail the discussions. Bit of a surprise but no problem.

At 6:30 we were politely asked to break up our conversations and to take our seats. These are arranged by meal selection so I found myself back on the leather sofas with a (mostly) familiar selection of veggies. We're a good crowd.

Leading off the discussion were Matt Walsh, Linda Woodcraft, James Andrews and Katharine Schopflin who each spent just a few minutes telling us what KM means in their organisation.

Introductions over, it was up to me to summarise the talks and then set the tables off on their own discussions for twenty minutes or so before bring them all back together again for a group summary.

As usual my notes from the evening are few and unstructured but are offered here as an indication of what we covered.

KM can mean sharing, indexing, easy retrieval, connecting people, collection stories, finding experts, taxonomies, standards, gate-keepers, meta-data, social networking, supporting processes, wikis, recommendations, adding value, questions, searching, ...

There were many themes and ideas suggested and shared and while there was no great consensus on a definition of KM (not that we were really trying to get to one) but a couple of points that were made did get general agreement:
  • The role of the KM practitioner is to understand how knowledge brings value to an organisation and how it can be exploited.
  • KM is now accepted as a real thing and not the hype, or vapour-ware, that it was generally though to be just a few years ago.
Dinner and more drinks arrived on schedule at 7:30 but that did little to halt the conversations. After the food the mixing started and the room was still pretty full of people and talk when I finally forced myself to leave some time after 9pm.

Simply another great evening at LIKE.

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