Third generation Knowledge Management (KM)

I’m back on my KM and gardening comparison track. As mentioned in a previous blog entry, my initial linking of KM and gardening  has developed into comparison with the science of ecology.  Third generation KM is described by David Snowden (KM guru) as just that: KM ecology.

Any organisation is a ‘living’ thing, constantly changing. Knowledge is an essential part of any organisation, also an evolving concept. It is now accepted that the management of knowledge is an integral part of any succesful organisation and that this – like  all living things – is difficult to control.

The KM manager can, like a gardener, weed, prune, sow and propagate information, but never fully control the flow. Just think of a garden – no matter howl beautifully planned and set up,  nature will take over and unwanted plants appear while cherished plants die,  are eaten by something -or simply become no longer of interest, superseded by newer varieties and species.

Good gardening tips are passed on and expressed, shared – narrative is much faster than the written word, and much easier to act upon. Third generation KM relies heaily on narrative or story telling. Commenting on this, Richard MacManus says “Not coincidentally that is also the pattern of blogging, which encourages people to tell their stories on the Web and “share context” with their particular community”.

Once the practical aspects have been tried and tested they can be written down, structured and dissembled to a wider audience – the readers of a gardening journal for example. Third generation KM is fascinating and evolving rapidky – I reckon 4th generation is waiting in the wings and am looking forward to finding out about it. Knowledge, information and the human delight in communicating will ensure an ever faster development.

Dave Snowden says “Third generation requires the clear seperation of context, narrative and content management and challenges the orthodoxy of scientific management.” So change is evident – KM is still evolving.

This is just a quick summary of my thinking -no doubt there will be many who disagree or who have moved further along the process of 3rd generation KM -please share good links or other sources dealing with the topic.