Stardate 2258.42… four uh, four, whatever. Acting Captain Spock has marooned me on Delta Vega, in what I believe is a violation of Security Protocol 49.09 governing the treatment of prisoners on-board a starship.

—James T. Kirk, personal log

Acting Captain’s Log, Stardate 2258.42. We have had no word from Captain Pike. I therefore classified him as a hostage of the war criminal known as Nero. Nero, who has destroyed my home planet and most of its 6 billion inhabitants. While the essence of our culture has been saved in the elders who now reside upon this ship, I estimate that only about 10,000 Vulcans have survived. I am now a member of an endangered species.

—Spock

Suppose you’ve just been marooned on an ice planet. Or better (?) yet, your captain has been taken prisoner, your home planet and nearly every member of your race has been annihilated, and you’ve assumed command of one of the last remaining starships in the sector. Do you pause to post to your blog?

In Star Trek, Kirk and Spock do it all the time. Captain’s log, personal log, medical log… evidently Starfleet must drill the value of knowledge management into cadets’ heads as rigorously as warp mechanics and the Prime Directive. When Starfleet personnel pause mid-adventure to make a log entry, they aren’t just providing some director narrative cover; they are producing audio blogs that provide useful insights on organizational practices for future reference. Even the personal logs, which are not meant for anyone else’s eyes, serve as personal knowledge management, helping officers gather and organize their thoughts verbally to help them process the events that taking place, deal with their emotions, and conduct an internal dialogue that may help them reason their way towards solutions of their daily Kobayashi Marus.

But even the best-laid knowledge management plans can go awry. After all, how do you explain Kirk’s log files on the Khan incident not being available to the Reliant crew? Just one little hyperlink—or an improved SPARQL query—could have averted that whole nasty fracas over Genesis.

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Yahoo! Call it a dry run for MWAIS: here’s my slideshow on SPN in KM! It should have audio; if it doesn’t, contact me and complain, and I’ll fix it!

Practicing What We Preach: Narrative in Knowledge Management

Abdullah Aldakhil and Mark A. Vonderembse, University of Toledo, “Relationship between Quality Management Practices and Knowledge Intergration and Its Impact on New Product Development Performance”

Quality Management processes: teamwork, employee participation, recognition/reward (more…)

Dissertation-Topic for Consideration
Scholarly Personal Narrative and Social Knowledge Management
CA Heidelberger
Friday, April 3, 2009

Working Title: Self-Organizing Social Knowledge Management: A Case Study Investigating Evolutionary Learning Communities and Scholarly Personal Narrative

Objectives:

  1. Define and demonstrate scholarly personal narrative (SPN) as an information systems research methodology.
  2. Develop a model of geographically based self-organizing social knowledge management built on the “evolutionary learning community” model proposed by Laszlo and Laszlo (2002).
  3. Describe and investigate South Dakota online communities as first-generation IS manifestations of self-organizing social knowledge management. (more…)

Here in three parts is the article review/presentation I prepared for INFS 834, Knowledge Management. Following the videos is the text of the original review text.

Part 1:

(more…)

Laszlo, K.C., and Laszlo, A. (2002). Evolving knowledge for development: The role of knowledge management in a changing world. Journal of Knowledge Management, 6(4), 400-412.

[I had tons of fun reading the article and writing this summary. Democratizing KM, creating a global learning community… Wowza!]

Laszlo and Laszlo (2002) trace the logical progression of knowledge management through two stages, from a focus on internal processes (“business knowledge of the first kind”) to a broadening of focus to include knowledge of “one’s market, one’s industry, one’s consumers” in the scope of knowledge whose management can add value to an organization (“business knowledge of the second kind,” p. 401). The authors label the first stage as atomistic and the second as egocentric and critique both as grounded in a mechanistic, reductionistic paradigm mirroring traditional science. Laszlo and Laszlo recommend moving away from a paradigm that views business through the metaphorical lens of conflict and urge knowledge management researchers to realign their efforts with a more global, cooperative mindset. To support the replacement of the business-as-machine metaphor with a business-as-organism metaphor, the authors describe what they view as the next logical direction for knowledge management: advancing to a focus on the creation and sharing of “evolutionary business knowledge” (p. 401). To a great extent, Laszlo and Laszlo’s “business knowledge of the third kind” is a shift from descriptive to normative research, less about business and more about society:

In a highly interconnected world, the field of knowledge management faces the challenge of making concrete and relevant contributions for the betterment of society and not only for the promotion of competitive advantage of business. This involves a research agenda through which, first, KM can foster business knowledge of the third kind for the expansion of a corporate citizenship agenda and the emergence of evolutionary learning corporations; and, second, KM can make significant contributions for the creation of human and social capital required for evolutionary development (p. 402)

Laszlo and Laszlo’s discussion of evolutionary development and the sciences from which that concept takes its cues (e.g. chaos theory, nonlinear thermodynamics, autopoietic theory, “universal flow” toward complexity in everything physical and biological) verges occasionally into New-Age-like fuzziness. At base, though, Laszlo and Laszlo prescribe a clear expansion of the realm of knowledge management upward from the base of data, information (the “know-what” of KM), and knowledge (KM’s “know-how”) to include the understanding and wisdom (the “know-why”) necessary to encompass the concepts of global citizenship and sustainability.

Methodologically, accessing the reason, values, intellect, intuition, and love (!) that turn know-what and know-how into know-why entails a practical shift from quantitative reaserch to more qualitative, participatory research (p. 405). They draw their participatory systemic research paradigm from “four interdependent ways of knowing” (from Heron and Reason, 1997). Integral to this model is practical knowing, which turns experiential, presentational, and propositional knowing into value-adding actions (p. 406).

That practical action should manifest itself in research that looks into the creation of evolutionary learning communities, communities that support not simply the imitation of previously acquired knowledge but the empowerment of learners throughout society who can better learn and adapt to new social and environmental conditions (p. 407).  Laszlo and Laszlo still see economic benefits as a reasonable goal for KM research and implementations, but they envision working through the framework of Learning Regions Theory to find ways to use knowledge management to promote not just competitive advantage for individual firms but also economic development for regions scaling up to the entire global community (p. 409). Laszlo and Laszlo identify numerous research areas where such lofty goals may be pursued, including research on facilitating corporate citizenship, developing design methods and programs to expand participation of the global population in policy-making and regional development, and building a “global learning society” (p. 411). In the most direct terms, Laszlo and Laszlo’s profoundly democratic research agenda calls for a “big picture” knowledge management that equips all of humanity with greater access to existing knowledge and expands humanity’s ability build new knowledge and meaning in response to economic, environmental, and political problems.

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?