Tuesday 22 July 2014

The IKI Talks Questions

First, my apologizes for being a bit late with this post.  It's been a crazy month in a good kind of way.

In keeping my eyes open for new ideas and information, this arrived amongst the various Linkedin notifications that I get daily.  The Institute for Knowledge and Innovation South-East Asia Bangkok University, IKI-SEA for short, has interviewed 34 international KM practitioners and will be posting short videos for the next 34 weeks. The series is called IKI Talks. If you want to see the videos, the first three are up here.

I thought for this week’s blog post, I would consider and answer the five questions that were posed to the 34 KM practitioners IKI-SEA talked to.

And so: without further ado, here are the questions and my answers:

1. How do you explain the difference between information and knowledge?

I would start off by saying that in general terms, information is knowledge's work product.

Beyond that, information is also a bridge between one person's knowledge and another person getting that knowledge so that it's useful to them. When people recognize what they know and how they know it, in either in an explicit or back of mind kind of way,  they can start to tell stories or write things down, making tangible information out of knowledge that is sometimes hard to get a handle on. As this happens, knowledge becomes information that can be passed around.  Once some who will see it as new information gets it, they go through whatever their information processing model is, bringing the new information into their knowledge in a way that is useful to them.

2. What will be the most important topic in knowledge management in the future?

In my view knowledge management doesn't ask questions, it answers them. Knowledge Management is a set of tools to help organizations to become great.  So I think the most important KM question in the future will continue to be the one we are being asked to answer now: How do we best help those we work with achieve their strategic priorities?

There is a catch here, and that's that KM needs to fight to get a seat at the strategy table to be able to do that work. So I believe that the most important topic in KM in the future is: How do we learn to have better conversations with those we work with in order to do our work so that our clients or the organizations we work with get the world changing results?

3. How do you foresee knowledge management as a discipline in the future?

I see the discipline evolving beyond what has become traditional KM in organizations.  I see the leaps forward in technology, neuroscience and behavioural sciences changing our understanding of how and what we do to achieve our goals.

I think we live in a really exciting time with core financial market principles shifting and changing, with our populations aging, and with technology providers introducing world changing products on a regular basis.  I see KM, and it may not actually be called KM in the near future, becoming the way that all this noise gets clear and talks to each other.  I see great opportunity for people with an understanding of how people know what they know, the related science and the related technologies.  I think people who are able to work with organizations to leverage all these pieces becoming an key and essential ingredient for organizational success.  Key and essential in the way that if you've got KM you'll succeed and if you don't, you won't.

I think the only thing missing right now is that those of us who are KM practitioners and experts need to learn to have different conversations with those of who aren't experts.  We need to hear what our 'clients' are saying and then speak with them about what we do in a way that they can understand so that we can show our value and get to do our work.

4. How do you explain the link between knowledge management and innovation?

Innovation never starts in a vacuum. Something happens in an organization or firm's markets that asks a very pointed question. The organization then needs to recognize the question, clarify it and work to answer it. Making up that answer starts from the platform of skills, strengths, resources and information that is either explicitly or tacitly available to a person or group or organization.  Knowledge management's role in this process is to allow or make the conditions so that the most useful skills, strengths, resources and information are on the tip of the tongue or at the fingertips of the people looking to answer the question in a way that changes the world.

5. How do you foresee the future of innovation management?

People have been making new things and solving problems for centuries.  People naturally solve problems with what they know as a part of their daily lives. I think the future of innovation management lies in not managing innovation at all but in allowing and supporting people in what they do naturally.

Rather than managing innovation, we need to find the courage to encourage people to dream and play.  Day dreaming, following distractions, going for walks, watercooler conversations; things like this are all useful in that they allow the seeds of innovation to come into being and grow.

Once the seed is planted, then, yes, there is some managing that needs to be done, but usually the managing is to manage to get out of the way of the excitement and energy that making something new creates.

See you next week!

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