.. as sick stigma is to innovation

October 18, 2012

I had no formal duties at KM World today but I enjoyed Dave Weinberger as always, but with two slight niggles.  Firstly Western Philosophy is not solely characterised by explicit book based concepts of knowledge and secondly written forms of knowledge are not always stop signs, then build a body of knowledge through interaction with readers and other written sources.  But I have a general issue with the growing demonisation of western knowledge and the deification of eastern or indigenous knowledge.   It ain't necessarily so and there is much of value in the wider cannon of western philosophy just as there is some nonsense in its so called alternatives.

Aside from that I met a lot of old and new friends, especially in the session by General Shian Long Lee and Kim Hai Neo when ended up as a MinDef reunion!  In the evening I was attended the annual SIKM Leaders dinner, the first time I have made it.  We were required to give our life histories on the assigned tables and I discovered a significant majority of SharePoint advocates on my table.  Now that was all OK until between first and second course we had to stand up and introduce ourselves to the group as a whole, and we were required to produce some personal idiosyncrasy or memorable saying.  I'm afraid I simply couldn't resist temptation.  You know what its like when you are told to (by yourself or someone else) not to talk about hippopotami and then you can't think of anything else?  OK well I had one of those moments and referenced a tweet I made at KM UK some months ago that went viral.  To quote it in full:

SharePoint is to Knowledge Management, what Sick Stigma is to Innovation

My neighbour Sue, who had organised the event and who works with said product, then introduced herself and (humorously I think) referenced her ex-friend Dave Snowden and the tweet was reproduced there and then by other attendees I had a sense of who Daniel felt all those years ago, but that has never stopped me I am afraid.

Now one insightful member of the twitterverse rightly observed that there is more to this statement than at first meets the eye.  In fact SharePoint has replaced Lotus Notes as the defining technology on this latest round of the the Ground Hog Day that is knowledge management.  Its a good way to organise information and all organisations should have something like it.  However its not the be all and end all of KM anymore than Lotus was before it.

The desire for universals in software tools has damaged too many good ideas and to see KM repeating the same mistake yet again, especially in the context of social computing is depressing.  We don't expect everyone to drive the same make and colour of car to work, nor should we expect everyone to use the same tools for collaboration.  We are shifting to a multi-supplier app driven eco-system and the behemoths so beloved of IT departments need to be challenged.  Context is everything in KM and the attempt to create single software supplier ecologies is very very dangerous.

More on this in my closing keynote today.  However while the other keynotes have been common to all four parallel conferences here, the SharePoint symposium has an alternative speaker for the closing session!

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The Cynefin Company (formerly known as Cognitive Edge) was founded in 2005 by Dave Snowden. We believe in praxis and focus on building methods, tools and capability that apply the wisdom from Complex Adaptive Systems theory and other scientific disciplines in social systems. We are the world leader in developing management approaches (in society, government and industry) that empower organisations to absorb uncertainty, detect weak signals to enable sense-making in complex systems, act on the rich data, create resilience and, ultimately, thrive in a complex world.

Cognitive Edge Ltd. & Cognitive Edge Pte. trading as The Cynefin Company and The Cynefin Centre.


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