It is disappointing to still hear the near-religious advocacy of ‘engineering processes’ for knowledge, knowledge management (KM) and, most recently, social media.
Ironically, KM people, often charged with change management and innovation, are so inelastic they simply reject contemporary, effective and proven practices. Even when their sacred cows of process engineering lead them to consistent, well-document failure, they hold on. Clearly the linear, mechanical, order-systems of KM account for the widely reported 70-80% of KM projects being challenged or outright failures.
Furthermore, it common for people holding these problematic opinions and outlooks to shoot-the-messenger.
Fortunately, other respected voices are finally speaking up. Hopefully the multi-modal messages concerning the broad-based failure of process-oriented KM will create the critical-mass necessary to defeat the difficult process-based inertia in the KM field. Here is a good manifesto.
This help and guidance is provided hopefully and authentically to give KM some much needed uplift. It is important to rise up, up and out of the late 20th Century Taylorism and Fordist process thinking and practice, that is so painfully obvious in KM. The simple goal is to raise the level of KM discourse to at least accepted 2010 practices.
The KM barrier seems to be the struggle to accept that modern productivity and innovation, are social, complex and holistic. KM must focus on the future. This key KM leadership behavior is scarce and precious. We’ve learned over decades that KM leadership is not for everybody.
The most glaring example is the Newtonian archetype of KM’s beloved analytic reductionism and BPR. They have failed completely for KM. Take away process mental models from KM practitioners and you are left with a blubbering mass of protoplasm.
Responsible KM leadership has adopted social networks, complexity science and whole-system comprehension. Thing is you cannot evolve from legitimate, honorable and essential disciplines of document management or library science or process engineering to KM. Rather, you must wall-off these processes and fully embrace networks, complexity and enterprise ecologies. Most people and organizations do not make the transformation deliberately. Rather, they slowly, steadily and sometimes covertly reveal themselves. This is often in spite of the specious organizational structure and corrupt managers.
Again, they most profound and prosperous KM network structures are manifest in the organization’s kinetic relationships with its environment and with itself. For innovation to flourish, it naturally casts off useless artifacts like boundaries, hierarchy and the bogus processes that KM defends so dearly. The success of complex adaptive system like KM is predicated on relentless and unrestricted interaction with its surrounding environment. In fact, this is the only way the properties of complex systems like KM reveal and express themselves. Successful KM specifically reject the bureaucratic structures in favor or organic networks.
It is important to take some time to reconsider all the process engineering happy talk that hurts and destroys so much, everything in KM, innovation and productivity. Here are some link rolls to help you along the way.