KM Hong Kong

March 30, 2010

I’m not blogging each presentation as is my norm, Kim is doing a good job of that here. Max Boisot spoke before me, and his material will be the subject of future blogs. I want to reflect on all three of his presentations this week and that post will take a bit of work. So I am just going to pick up some themes with comments.

I was followed by Kim and Rui talking about design thinking. I will admit to a bit of frustration here. Kim and Rui are two of the most interesting people I have spent time with. Conversations are interesting and challenging and to my mind Kim has a higher reputation in KM than many a person who claims status. However the frustration was for potential unrealized. Design (or I would say architecture) is a key idea that we need to pick up on and develop. However this felt like an opening to a promising conversation rather than a conventional presentation.

Karl Wiig who has a strong claim to be one of the founders of the knowledge management movement picked up on the intellectual capital concept which was one of the founding ideas. Now I never liked this to be honest. I was and remain dubious that knowledge is an capital asset within the normal meaning of the word. Its too static and the idea that you could formally value a company by accounting for structural, human and social capital proved as unsustainable in practice as it was in theory. Knowledge is primarily a capability and changing the name was one idea that Karl and I discussed. Talk about intellectual capability and you might get somewhere. Reductionist approaches (breaking capability into four categories and then sub categories), like systems models are good for getting people to think more diversely; however they can only ever be ways to stimulate discussions they can’t really represent the space. Categorisation is dangerous as you miss out the fuzzy bits between.

Interestingly Karl brings in the idea of mindset capital, comprising values and representing more dynamic elements. This maps to something I talked about namely looking at mapping attitudes to understand capability. Again drop capital and the idea works. Another niggle is a reference to Chaordic systems from Dee Hoc, generally defined as a mixture of chaos and order. I need to blog on this at some stage, but order comes for free in a chaotic system, they shift to complex of ordered depending on the nature of the imposed or evolutionary constraints. I see Dee Hock’s work as an early application of complexity theory based on good instinct rather than prior knowledge. As we have moved on over the last three decades and we need to translate the practice back into the theory to allow it to scale.

Eric Tsui is speaking about Personal KM and social computing in general. He is using examples from RSS feeds and other tools giving a good overview of capabilities. I’m managing a 100% hit rate in speakers who have apologized for one of their slides in the light of what I said earlier. Well I am not including the sponsor presentation as that was a fixed power point slide set, prepared in the US and presented by a local. I get very frustrated by these and tend to tune them out. Eric’s advocacy of ontology is one I challenged and he acknowledges the dissonance! Overall a tour de force through the practice of social computing tools, but a little too much on the tools.

Larry Campbell is head of HSBC’s Global Publishing Services division and CKO. “I know nothing, I learn English from a book” quote from Fawlty Towers. Ok this is getting hazardous, he has the DIKW pyramid up and is emphasizing wisdom. Patrick Lambe who is setting next to me has just scribbled “What’s a DIKW IT? which is a play on the earlier Fawlty Towers episode – wonderful. OK, wisdom over, we now have a triangle between content, channel and consumer. Role of the publisher is to connect these three points for an author and he attempted to use human agents to create that within HSBC. Another triangle now between multi-active, reactive and linear-active. Uses this to create different forms of cultural sensitivity in writing. This is all good stuff on publishing, not so sure on knowledge management yet but he promised to move to make the connections. Principle is to simplify then exaggerate to communicate knowledge effectively. There is a very complicated triangle now that links to the economist style. It looks interesting but (i) I can’t capture it here and (ii) its just too dense with text. I’m really not sure what is being said here but overall the focus is on editors of various types writing reports which are well written and which grab attention. This is clearly a presentation about aspects of KM which are susceptible to a journalistic model. I worry (as ever) about the degree of filtering and (to reference a key point from Bosiot) focus on information at the expense of data. He references my comments on narrative, but interprets it as an author telling a story. OK its a common error, but an important one to pick up on never the less. Great presentation on digital publishing, worth every minute but its information management.

OK, Max and I have a conversation to have so I am skipping David Gurteen (Sorry Dave but we have been at a lot of conferences togther) then I will be back for the panel at the end.

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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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