Snowden-on-KM-A--Hot-Seat-Interview

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008
Dave Snowden, founder and CSO of Cognitive Edge, is in the hot seat and will be asked a number of questions relative to the current state of KM.

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What's your reaction to John's comments about Singapore being a center of innovation?
"See my blog, I juts responded. Singapore is well known for execution but less for innovation." Gave example of the need to translate ideas into action . Our linear based research, common in the U.S. and the U.K. does not lead to action. yet, in Asia, we see continued funding that leads to action.

Is KM alive?
If you look at history of management cycle and ideas, you need a cycle of new ideas - novelty is important. You need to look at things a fresh every 4-5 years. Look at quality management. While a strategic objective, quality is now embedded into the major life of organizations. The positive is that it is now mainstream. The negative is that KM has moved on, it's been subsumed into many IT functions. Other aspects of KM have returned, e.g. decision support. (My take is that the opportunity remains, but the objective and name needs to be moved forward.)

Role of technology in KM
Believes that the role of technology on cognition is very important but limited. The problem is that a lot of IT people believe we can simply throw more computing power at a problem, when the real need is for cognition that the human brain is best at.

Google is going the way of IBM & Microsoft.


They are making the same mistake.  (See notes)

Question re: if Snowden was leading a new KM program what would he do?
(Sorry, missed specific question.) If he was starting a KM program now, he thinks he could do more or less everything with social software, rather than collaborative tools. (They use Ning, Twitter, and Skype, for example, but encourage free use of any tools). If you take the approach "I must start my KM program with a taxonomy or a CoP" you are doomed to fail. Discussion re: value of the human/social interaction.

You elicit strong reactions on KM topics. Why is that?
Emperor's clothes scenario. No one likes the truth to be told. The truth is that much of what is passed for KM expertise isn't. Look at the evidence for what works, what doesn't and how people actually learn and share knowledge. It's not what's being taught.

Gave example of looking at Nature or simply things that work - e.g. Navy crew tour & watch -- and finding ways to apply those behaviors to the way we work. There's more value in learning from failure than from success. This is my own generalization. If you've heard Dave speak you know that every answer could be an essay. I can't type that fast.

How do we rethink face to face communication in light of current opportunities for virtual meetings?
Developed concept of social network stimulation to get everyone within 3 degrees of separation with everyone else in a trusted environment. If everyone is within 3 degrees, no need for KM. (He does not like SNA as a KM tool. Believes in the need for management to set boundaries and create the space for organization, but not self organization.)

Out of time - no audience questions...
As usual, too much to capture. Time permitting, I'll come back and update. Otherwise, I recommend buying the MP3.



Unanswered questions:
How do we get senior management buy-in and support?

Does KM have an impact on the bottom line?

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