New semester! New textbook! Let’s read!

Irma Becerra-Fernandez, Avelino Gonzalez, and Rajiv Sabherwal, Knowledge Management: Challenges, Solutions, and Technologies, Uppe Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2004.

Chapter 1 is just the intro, 11 thin pages. Noteworthy points:

  • [2] Peter Drucker is considered the father of knowledge management (KM). The authors cite an important paper of his from 1994. We can perhaps trace KM’s beginnings as a discipline to the 1970s. This is new stuff.
  • [2] “…knowledge-intensive companies around the world are valued at three to eight times their financial capital.” Your brains are worth more than your buildings.
  • [3] KM’s “traditional” (funny word for a young field) emphasis: codified knowledge (“recognized and already articulated”); focus turning to include tacit knowledge (found only in minds of certain experts)
  • [3] the comments about intellectual capital and structural capital get me wondering: Structural capital is “everything that remains when the employees go home.” Intellectual capital is what employees take with them… but do we let them take it with them? Does referring to my thoughts as “capital” suggest that my thoughts can be viewed as property that the organization might claim from me?
  • [4] Companies need employees with good communication skills because communication is how we make knowledge flow!
  • [5] 1990s reëngineering hit companies hard: they lost knowledge (also “decreased morale, reduced commitment, inferior quality, lack of teamwork, lower productivity, and loss of innovative ability”). We get excited about KM “to minimize the impact of downsizing”—uh oh. We help capture vital knowledge so the company can “maintain its competitive edge” even after it cans you. The better your KM, the less secure your job.
  • [8] But in happier news, “an old adage” says KM is 20% tech and 80% people and org. culture.

On intellectual capital and “capturing” knowledge: Our job in KM seems to be to keep employees from taking intellectual capital home with them. I suppose it’s no worse than saying to a GM worker, “Sure, Bob, you built that truck, but you don’t get to drive it home.” The company needs labor to build all these ideas. The company compensates me for building those ideas. The company keeps those ideas.

What’s more personal: the brain power I put into creating an idea, or the sweat I put inot creating a thing?