KM Australia and an anti-certification rant

April 7, 2009

I just got details through of KM Australia this August (4th to 7th in Sydney). I’m a keynote along with my long term friend Olimpia Salas from Caracas, who used to organise one of the great KM events there every year before politics interfered. Part of the deal was that the speakers got together for the following weekend with some of the PDVSA University Execs. There is one famous picture of myself, Steve Denning, Tom Stewart, Nancy Dixon and others with Pelicans plunging into the sea around us. We’ve also got Jeanne Holm from NSAS who I have not spoke with before and Roberto Evaristo of 3M who I have. In addition to the normal conference fare I am facilitating an all day pre-conference workshop for experienced practitioners and having a debate with Shawn Callahan on the motion: Social computing has to all intents and purposes reduced CoPs to file repositories. FAD, I am proposing the motion. I was last at this event in 2007 and they had the novel idea of creating a social space for the speakers to be available throughout the event itself. A simple idea that worked well as it allowed conversations that never really happy in the main event.

Regrettably the pre-conference workshop clashes with half day workshops from Jeanne and Patrick Lambe which I might otherwise have attended. Its a pity as we are going to get a fair number of experienced KM Professionals from Australia in on the event and it will all be about creating ideas, rather than giving lectures. I’ll use some of the complex facilitation techniques we have developed over the years in Cognitive Edge. Of course if you are really desperate you can learn about My big fat KM from one of the dreaded certifiers of whom Patrick Lambe wrote so well a year or so ago. Dr Dan, the certification man as I fondly call him managed to get the ActKM listserv closed down for a period by threatening legal action against one participant, so I suppose i had better not make any comments about the trade descriptions act in respect of his write up. Just to make it clear, I have no objection to people selling training courses in KM. I have no objection to people developing specific approaches and certifying or accrediting people to practice those techniques, that’s something we do in CE. However we never claim to offer certificates in the field of complexity or narrative. Offering to certify an entire field is a nonsense and awarding pretentious appendages to participants names is conpounding arrogance with ostentation. Look at this if you want to see what I mean: Dr. Dan Kirsch, CPC, CKM®, MKMP™, CKMI®). At the age of 10 I created a secret society with membership cards, ranks and medals etc but I grew out of it. To my shame I also made some rather dubious pocket money from the membership fees I extracted from my class mates.

I’ll also be in Melbourne and Canberra on this trip, coming in from Singapore and moving on the Academy of Management in Chicago where I am pleased to say myself and a few others have had a workshop on complexity accepted. The schedule is being sorted out at the moment so any requests by email please.

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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.

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