Gott ist tot (or reflections on KM keynotes)

November 24, 2010

November has of recent years become the month in which I think about Knowledge Management. OK the proper objects of KM, decision making & innovation I think about a lot, but the world has moved on and the KM language tends not to be associated with them outside of Government, the legal profession and some engineering organisations. There once was a time when there might be two or three KM conferences running at the same time, often with very large numbers of participants often at or approaching board level. Now there are a few left with smaller numbers and with more junior participants. KM World this year moved to the heart of Government, Washington and doubled its numbers which was good news, KM Asia in Singapore continues to attract interesting people but the numbers were down. You get that sense of a movement which has become a practice and then morphed into an activity within the wider IT function suitable for recent graduates.

Now this is neither bad not good, it is a part of the natural cycle of things. However we increasingly need to improve decision making, we need to create the conditions for innovation and we need to do so in a way that recognises that technology has huge capability to augment human intelligence, but that our current use seems to seek to dumb down human capability to the level of a machine.

For those interested the slides and podcast for KM World are here, and for KM Asia here. The former is more polemical (I was on a roll) the latter slightly less so. Some time ago I made the bold statement that KM was dead, some got the context (Gott ist tot from Nietzsche complimented by Bishop Robinson’s famous book Honest to God) most did not. When Patrick Lamb interviewed Larry Prusak and me (hoping I think that Larry would disagree), Larry added Dead man walking. Both our statements have levels of subtlety to them that go beyond their literal meeting.

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