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I had a conversation the other day about Knowledge Management and I want to share a portion of it with you.

Knowledge Management is a passion.  It has a place in my heart and in my mind.  I love learning and sharing.  I enjoy working out loud.  I get energy from the discovery of ideas and concepts.  I get excited about the conversion of something that was tacit to someone else becoming explicit and beyond this becoming tacit again.   I love it.

It isn’t a role.  It isn’t a job. It is a practice. There are many people who have made a career of Knowledge Management.   Generally speaking, most of the people I have encountered in this area of thought are brilliant.  I have had the honor and privilege to speak with highly intelligent, bleeding-edge thinkers.  They predicted insight through data, knowledge graph, AI constructs, personal knowledge management and beyond.  For many years, I listened and learned.

The one major lesson for me from a career perspective was that Knowledge Management would take more than it would give.  I would say that KM is the Jenga of career paths.  Every time you build a practice, blocks from the base are removed over time and the practice at some point comes tumbling down.   This is due to the fact that it is impractical to ascertain the value of relationships between people and knowledge in dollars.

Even leaders in Knowledge Management struggle to express the value.  There are models and they make sense but they never caught on from the human aspects.  However, technologists created technological capabilities that took advantage of these models.  These became social networks, community, AI, graph and beyond.  In this case, the carpenter asked for a hammer and the hammer made the carpenter less valuable.  In the world today, many people can exercise at least some parts of KM without help from others.

Knowledge Management evolved.  It seems to have left most of the human aspects behind in the sense of requiring people to be involved.  It is more like self-service today.  I believe there is work to do in the field but the costs to sell that work outweigh the benefits of doing it from a personal perspective.

I think the future holds something we haven’t seen yet even technologically born from KM.  I believe we will have social trust scores based on interactions between people, content, and data from the outside.  I think we are going to have emerging issues in privacy and containerization of data in companies.  More shift towards personal knowledge management with multiple personas.  People will have data at work and data at home.  They will not be able to share the two and it will be challenging for them.  At the same time,  community management and knowledge management concepts at work will continue to be what a carrot is to a person once it is consumed.

One thing is for sure, KM will continue, but it will never become what I believe it should have.


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