A good place to start with this entry is defining what Knowledge Management (KM) is. Koenig (2018) provides the classic one-line definition, “Knowledge management is the process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge.” This definition has an internal focus, but today the concept is much broader and must also consider the importance of using information from web-based platforms. Koenig explains KM by looking at what it is trying to accomplish, what it consists of, and looking at the stages of development.
According to Dixon (2009), KM is about making use of the collective knowledge in an organization. Knowledge was first thought of as being static and collected and stored until needed. We live in a constantly changing world, which means our knowledge is not static but continues to grow. The second stage of knowledge looks at knowledge as dynamic and no longer stable. People bring different experiences and learn from those experiences through reflection. The third stage is about leveraging collective knowledge and bringing people together with cognitive diversity to solve complex problems.
This progression of knowledge aligns with Kelly’s (2016) discussion of the technological forces that are shaping the future. Today the social networks operate in real-time and can easily be accessed from our many screens. Content can go viral and be shared instantaneously, reaching many people. “The internet is less a creation dictated by economics than one dictated by sharing gifts” (Kelly, 2016, p. 144). Jardace (2018) talks about knowledge-sharing, which is relatively easy to do in the digital world. One of the benefits is the continuous learning this allows. As people get new information from social platforms, they make sense of it, apply it and then share what they have learned with others. With technology and so many different social platforms, information is abundant, but we still need to make sense of it and help it inform our knowledge.
Davenport (2015) provides a different KM perspective and questions its relevance today. He stated there appears to be little interest in this concept anymore. However, to support his point about ongoing evidence of a pulse, here is a doctoral class spending a week on the concept. That tells me understanding the role of KM today is important. Koenig (2018) stated that KM is here to stay based on a lit analysis they did. As Davenport (2015) noted, knowledge itself is not any less important. What has significantly changed is how people acquire knowledge, the amount and speed of information that comes at us, and the need to vet the information for its accuracy.
I think KM is still relevant today, but it needs to evolve to align with the digital world. Knowledge is consumed differently today, most coming from digital platforms and web-based tools. As consumers of online information, we need to be cognizant of the potential for fake news and bad information. Kelly (2016) talked about the sharing technology that allows everyone to have a digital voice and share content, but no one vets what is shared. This can be a positive, but it also requires we approach information with caution. Based on research by Pew, fake news has left Americans confused about facts, and trust in news organizations has decreased. Pew Research predicted that new credentialing systems will emerge, as AI increases, the quality of information will improve, and misinformation will be addressed with the ability to fact-check information. All positive steps in making digital information more reliable to use to make better decisions through KM.
Leadership’s Role in KM
Leaders have a critical role to play in this digital age of KM and the digital sharing of information. Today, the world faces man complex problems. These problems require innovative solutions and interdisciplinary leadership. As Dixon (2009) noted, leveraging collective knowledge is need to address complex problems. This requires bringing cognitively diverse perspectives to the conversation. Web-based tools can be used to support collaboration among diverse experiences and knowledge. Leaders do not have the answers but can bring diverse voices with different knowledge to the table, leading them to work together to bring forward innovative solutions.
Davenport, T. H. (2015, June 24). What happened to knowledge management? The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/BL-CIOB-7428
Dixon, N. (2009, May 2). Where knowledge management has been and where it is going. https://www.nancydixonblog.com/2009/05/where-knowledge-management-has-been-and-where-it-is-going-part-one.html
Jardace, H. (2018). Knowledge-sharing paradox redux. https://jarche.com/2018/07/knowledge-sharing-paradox-redux/
Kelly, K. (2016). The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 technological forces that will shape our future. Penguin Books.
Koenig, M. E. (2018, January 15). What is KM? Knowledge management explained. KM World. https://www.kmworld.com/About/What_is_Knowledge_Management
Raine, L. (2017, June). Education in the age of fake news and disputed facts. [PowerPoint slides]. Slide Share. Pew Research Center. https://www.slideshare.net/PewInternet/education-in-the-age-of-fake-news-and-disputed-facts
Raine. L. (n.d.). The future of democracy and civic innovation. [PowerPoint slides]. Slide Share. Pew Research Center. https://www.slideshare.net/PewInternet