Henley: Seeking the Unknown Unknowns

February 24, 2010


Karl-Erik Sveiby is one of the two or three founding fathers of KM and one who has engaged in one of the more interesting journeys. The first and last time (until today) when I spoke at the same conference was in Hong Kong, but separated by a decade. In the first session he was very much focused on the accounting aspects of KM with the intellectual capital movement. However in recent years his engagement with aboriginal knowledge in Australia has radically changed his perspective.

He is now telling the story of his meeting withTex Skuthorpe Custodian of the Nhunggabarra Law and a painter. Asked if there was a word for knowledge, Tex replied “Our land is our knowledge”. Interesting statements about the lack of agriculture, religion etc. I understand what he is trying to say here but I’m not sure I fully agree, unless you qualify it with “in a traditional western sense”. Makes the very important point that the over enthusiasm for Darwinism led “Whities” to the conclusion that Aboriginals were deficient in evolutionary terms. His book, Treading Lightly (which I strongly recommend) is a western management investigation of Aboriginal knowledge. Unlike many other books it avoids romanticism while showing respect.

(my apologies, I wrote more extensively on the presentation – but the extended section seems to have been lost by the blog editor)

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