How-To SNA For KM
KM people are better off taking small steps to developing network comprehension and using social network analysis (SNA). The payoff is enormous. However, the current SNA environment is chaotic and transitioning. There are some good books and resources out there for those getting started. For KM, SNA achieves sharp advancements in knowledge, flow, collaboration, diffusion, innovation and phronesis.
Beware, there are also a lot of social network dilettantes and phonies. Some self-serving and self-absorbed people intentionally make networks more complicated to advance their own goals. Other add 'network' to stale and mostly useless past activities like OD. Beware.
It is critical to suspend disbelief. Please remember, it took people about 10-15 years to embrace the process archetype to describe organizations. Prior to the 1980s, most knowledge-based work was bounded in functions and functionally-oriented. Be patient; allow yourself to think completely differently.
Unfortunately, the over-baked process mindset is really hard to unlearn. In the 80s, process hit the scene with a vengeance. The quality and 'value chain' movement of the grew into the ERP and re-engineering monstrosities of the 90s. Then, zealous and often naïve KM people started to apply mechanical, ordered and linear activities to knowledge. It was pathetic. It accounts for whole KM mess we have now. Granted there was some easy pickings, some low-hanging fruit. Overall process-KM is a classic anti-pattern. It is patently dysfunctional and very harmful. The ultimate insult of this era was the “KM Certification” farce and the charlatans that offered it. Fortunately, their impact was modest. Competent KM people summarily reject certification.
The 1995-2010 process era of KM has been very painful, wasteful and unsuccessful. Unfortunately, process lingers as the default mindset. It will be very hard for people to unlearn process. Suspension of disbelief is the first step to understanding networks.
Critical to networks is acceptance of their omnipresence. SNA simply reveals them. Knowledge workers simply serve them. To prosper in knowledge networks you most specifically limit control. A KM Constitution helps achieve social network comprehension. It is a written document that specifically limits the reach and power of organizational governance and process. It is critical to shift from today's rigid, controlling, centralized, monolithic, process model. Rather, embrace a constitutionally-led, federated, distributed, networked and social configuration of knowledge.
For example, knowledge subsidiarity is a key foundation of a KM constitution. It is essential and critical to prosperous KM activities.
Like virtually all modern organizations, institutions, governments and militaries, subsidiarity derives its origins from Catholicism. It is critical to KM and praxis intervention. Unfortunately, and far too often, the principle of subsidiarity is corrupted by unctuous KM apparatchiks and their arrogant management overlords.
A KM constitution, well designed and deployed with SNA, specifically corrects the numbing, centralized and bureaucratic focus of KM on content, administration, documents, repositories, processes and, worse, a lot worse, so-called 'best practices.' The KM constitution allows knowledge to inhabit its innate social networks, ecologies and market origins. SNA propels productivity, innovation and prosperity that is holistic, natural, genuine and connected to its proximate usage.