Monday, 12 March 2012

Knowledge as personal, Knowledge as collective

individual -v- group "Knowledge management is all about people"

We hear this statement all the time, and there's little you can say against it, but what does it mean? What People is it all about?

Some people take the statement to mean "KM is all about behaviours and culture", but for me, that's not quite the same statement.

Others take it to mean "Knowledge is held in the heads of individuals, so KM must treat individuals". I hear a talk about this viewpoint recently, which took a very HR-oriented view of KM, and a very Individual view of organisational learning. For this speaker, KM was about hiring smart people, and training them well. For this speaker, Knowledge management was all about persons, or individuals.

I see it differently.

I don't see KM so much as an individual thing - I don't see it related to much to the Human Capital of Edvinson - I see KM as about communities, about networks, and about people in the collective rather than about the individual. It is increasingly the collective that holds the knowledge, that agrees the knowledge, that creates the knowledge, that transforms opinion into knowledge. The culture change associated with KM is this shift from the individual to the collective.

KM is about people in the collective, and how they are networked, and how they interact in community, and how they build knowledge together. It is about Structural Capital.

It is that structural capital that makes a learning organisation different from an organisation of learners.

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