When my turn to introduce myself came, I decided to do something radical, to tell the truth. Instead of the usual self-serving claptrap, I said I was there to reinforce the beliefs and suspicions I had coming in, that maybe I’d hear something that would change my orientation, but I rather doubted it.
Fast forward to 4:30 pm when I join Ross Dawson, Wayne Hodgins, and Tom Housel for a concluding panel discussion. Wayne said that he lived in the future, where objects had become so granular that they poured into the contours of need like a liquid. I said it was ironic to have my friend Wayne living in the future at the same time that I’m trying so hard to live in the now.
For me, the day confirmed that there’s no reason to treat KM and learning as separate disciplines. They are points on a continuum of things that make organizations effective. Was the simulation we’d gone through earlier in the day knowledge or learning? It simply doesn’t matter.
KM and learning haven’t converged because they have different DNA. Training is almost blue-collar; KM is nearly aristocratic. Learning is borne of training; it’s a staff function. Trainers rarely graduate to management (except of training). KM comes from strategy consultants, Harvard Business Review, and CEO conversations on the golf course. KM managers are on the fast track. Blue-bloods and blue-collars have a tough time understanding one another.
John Maloney, leader of KM Cluster, asked what participants should keep in mind when selling these ideas back at the office. My advice:
Respect the individual. Knowledge is co-created, so keep the individual an equal partner, not a "recipient."
Support the positive learning movement. The job of KM and learning is to augment how people function, not to fill in the gaps for a bunch of dummies.
Find a better yardstick. Intangibles have become more important than tangibles, yet our ancient accounting principles value such things as knowledge, skills, and emotional intelligence at zero. It’s obvious what’s wrong with this picture.
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