The Year of Living Dangerously In Knowledge Management

By Mimi Dionne posted 12-22-2010 02:45



I am for the record.

I never categorized my work in records as part and parcel of Knowledge Management—it seemed disloyal.  I dismissed Knowledge Management as a pseudonym (in my eyes, at least) for a better term: Records and Information Management. I haven’t thought about information ways of working as KM in years.  No matter how much is written about it, I thought the term was dead. 

I dedicated this year to determining why.

In addition to the privilege of writing for AIIM’s ERM blog, you may or may not be aware that I have the privilege of interviewing practitioners for Brice Dunwoodie’s CMSWire.  When they invited me to write for them, the wonderful editorial team gave me carte blanche to pursue topics that interest me, whether it’s colleagues or conferences.  I navigated unwittingly to certain threads and people.

People especially—I’m fascinated. 

My KM toured kicked off with Susan Scrupski and her vision of E2.0 through the 2.0 Adoption Council.  She explained to me that E2.0 is a major anthropological and sociological event to promote transparency, trust, collaboration and authenticity—the four philosophical and egalitarian pillars of Enterprise 2.0 — within an entity.“There’s a bigger story here that explains why I targeted the enterprise (versus the consumer market). It’s time for sensible, rational good people to take over the world. That’s what driving me. All the bad things in the world happened because voices were suppressed; people didn’t have access or the ability to effect social change. The message is, think more about not just your job, but being effective in changing things for the better.”

Earlier this summer I picked up Susan Hanley’s governance manuals for MOSS 2007 and SharePoint 2010.  I so thoroughly enjoyed them I decided to interview her. She sees SharePoint as a vehicle for KM implementations.  “I don’t think I’ve moved to content management at all — I think it’s all fundamentally about bringing the right information to the right people at the right time so while my focus these days tends to be on implementing technology solutions; the solutions all have a KM objective.”

Bill Kaplan read the interview and contacted CMSWire about his work in KM and employee turnover management.  It’s true; scholarly information isn’t readily available on this topic. I was glad to have the opportunity to chat with him and read his book. “There’s a lot of theory and discussion about what is knowledge. I have a very simple definition. If you’re a business person, you’re interested in leveraging knowledge to drive business results and improved performance. It’s straightforward. I think of it like the letter ‘V’. On the left side of the ‘V’ you have information, things you can search for and see…it’s codified. On the right side is tacit knowledge. Some will argue it’s hard to capture tacit knowledge; I disagree. We do it all the time as a matter of course, as part of the way we work.”

This tacit versus codified resonates with the 2.0 Adoption Council’s Internal Evangelist of the Year, Luis Suarez. My final interview for the year, he said, “We’re trying to help people understand E2.0 is about ad hoc knowledge sharing. Tacit knowledge, the stuff in people’s minds, it’s not codified. Use the social software for the tacit knowledge. When you’ve worked through that process, and now your information is documented, you move to explicit knowledge — documentation that’s moved into a more sophisticated repository.  Knowledge Management and E2.0 aren’t that much different. E2.0 is tacit, what is not codified. KM is explicit knowledge — the software asset, the repository.”

You will see in my interviews that I pointedly asked about the relationship between Records and KM. The responses were vague, but they stated that Records is a subset to KM.  Nobody backs Records into a corner on my watch; I disagree. I think KM fits under the Records and Information Management umbrella because we embrace electronic records and document management systems wholeheartedly while KM is still learning its lessons from the “no-focus/focus on technology” issue that burned the field in the past. But what are lessons learned for?

It was a wonderful treat to explore this foreign territory.  From the founder of the 2.0 Adoption Council to a KM practitioner who embraces SharePoint then on to one who emphatically doesn’t only to return to the Council and its award winner who embodies it all—the frustrations, the hard work, the triumphs—was an incredible opportunity for front-line research.

It doesn’t feel so foreign anymore.              


#enterprise2.0 #ElectronicRecordsManagement #Records-Management #knowledgemanagement