Why Knowledge Management Advisors are Unable to Manage Their Own Knowlegde

To my surprise many people are still trying to implement Knowledge-Management. I thought everybody was convinced that after almost 12 years of failing people would understand there is something wrong.

I was involved from the beginning. Knowledge Management came out of Data- and Database Management. At that time I believed the human was a Machine. I did not believe that at that time. Later I realized this was the paradigm we were using. When you use the paradigm of the Machine the only thing you can do is Program People.

When you Program people you store DATA in a database and you give them the opportunity to share this data. This can be done by search (unstructured text) or by a SQL-statement. When you do this you are simply automating a process.

Funny enough when I listen to the current generation of Knowledge Managers I hear nothing about the most important thing we did at that time called DATA-ANALYSIS. This Art has vanished for some reason. Data-analysis is the art of finding out the MEANING of what people are communicating. My favorite method to do this was NIAM.

There are special processes where Experts are involved. When you automate these processes you are building EXPERT-SYSTEMS.

This is everything there is to say about Knowledge Management.

But people that are busy with Knowledge Management don’t want to automate a process. They are different. They want to Manage the Sharing of Something called Knowledge (or Experience?).

For some reason people are unable or are not willing to share their experiences (“what they have learnt in Practice”). The first reason could be that they really don’t want to do that because their practice is their income. Many people and companies protect their experience by Law and Patents. If you really want to protect your Experience you have to Organize this process.

The last reason could be that they just don’t know what their experience is. This is very normal. It is the big problem in building Expert Systems. You need an other Expert (an Interviewer) to help the Expert to articulate the experience. This is done by Story-Telling.

Personally I think the best way to organize Experience Management is “to Let it Happen”. In the Cycle of Learning there are moments when people really need to Share (Communion). There are also moments when people need to take Control (Agency). Communion and Agency are the two factors that keep the Wheel of Innovation on the move.

Let’s change the Name of the Game of Knowledge Management and call it Collaborative Learning. Its aim is INNOVATION. This is a link to two documents (Text and Powerpoint) I wrote about this subject.

Collaborative Learning is the process of adaptation to the inside (Mental Space) or the outside environment (Physical Space, Social Space) of the learner.

To adapt to the environment the learner has to see a difference. This difference has to MOTIVATE the learner to perform a short-term (a re-flection, a re-action) or a long-term action (a plan).

A short-term action is controlled by the existing action patterns (Experience). When the environment has changed dramatically a long-term action sometimes needs a change of behavior (paradigm shift strategy).

Why is Knowledge Management failing? I give you a few possibilities.

1. People don’t see the difference. They are “Sleeping”. They are completely emerged in their environment.

2. People react and are not able to reflect. The are following their impulses. They are too busy or are already in a state of Stress (Burn-out).  When you are highly stressed your body is unable to Act anymore.

3. They know they have to adapt their behavior but are afraid to do this. They have postponed a small change and know they have arived at a turning point. They don’t want to look outside anymore and face reality. They are unable to change their Paradigm.

Now we are back to the beginning.

Why did I change my paradigm?

I changed my paradigm because after a few years I found out it was “not working”. Nobody used the Knowledge Management Systems. It was a waste of time and money. At that time we EVALUATED what we were doing. Evaluation is the step in the Collaborative Cycle where the Emotions are involved.

I know why Evaluation is not often practiced!

When People find out that something is not doing what they wanted to do they start to blame the others. They don’t except that people make mistakes and that learning from our mistakes is the essence of INNOVATION.

Most people are advised by Advisors. They are the specialists in Knowledge Management. Many of them know “it is not working” but they HOPE that someday a MIRACLE will happen. Some of them are also very afraid to lose their jobs. If this would happen a Critical Event would take place.


Critical Events are just what you need to Change Your Paradigm.

My advice to the Customers: 

1. Automate the Processes You want to Manage. Use methods that have proven themselves. Go back in history to find them!

2. When you want to hire expensive Advisors. Ask them about their successes and their failures. But also ask them How they Manage their own Knowlegde. You will be surprised. Most of the time they don’t practice what they preach! If this is the case don’t hire them.

3. Involve them in your process of Collaborative Learning. Pay them when you Learn from them and Let them Pay You when they learn from You.

4. Facilitate and Organize Story Telling in your Company. Connect “Old” experienced Experts with young people. The Oldies love to talk about their experience. This the normal way in Society. You learn the experience from your Grandparents.

5. Build a Story Telling Game. Organize this as a Collaborative Learning Cycle. I love to share My Experience.


A Presentation About Collaborative Learning

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.