I am excited about the direction knowledge management is headed. There is a growing interest in drawing out deeper insights and more profound knowledge - what we often think of as tacit knowledge. This is the type of knowledge that can address the increasingly complex issues organizations are facing.
This blog is about:
- The way in which conversation addresses complexity, ambiguity and the fast paced organizational change
- How to create deeper, more insightful conversations, internally, and with customers and suppliers - it is about the practices, tools, and strategies that produce insightful conversations.
Most organizations have mastered how to leverage explicit knowledge and have the improvement gains to show for it. Many have also learned how to build knowledge sharing communities of practice and develop social networks that are successfully transferring knowledge across organizational silos. But organizations now face a new environment of ever faster change and growing complexity.
That more complex environment necessitates a different kind of knowledge management strategy- a strategy for inventing solutions for increasingly ambiguous issues. That new strategy is conversation – it is the skills and processes that can make organizational conversation effective. Alan Webber, the Founder of Fast company, when asked what’s so new about the new economy – responded “What’s new about the new economy is that work is conversation.”
I come at knowledge management from a learning perspective, rather than the more common technology perspective. Although I’m totally enamored with every new piece of technology that comes along, the value I bring to the field of knowledge management is an in-depth understanding of how individuals learn and change through conversation, how they come to know and recall, and how they use language to transfer knowledge. And having written three books on organizational learning and worked with hundreds of clients, I bring an understanding of how organizations create and retain their knowledge and how that knowledge gets shared and is reused.
Five Theorists That Have Influenced My Thinking
Chris Argyris, from whom I’ve learned how the inferences we make about each other prevent us from having a valid exchange of knowledge. For over twenty years I’ve taught the skill set of advocacy and inquiry, first in universities and then in organizations. The underlying principles of Argyris’ work, valid information, free and informed choice, and internal commitment to that choice, have formed the basis of my work.
Karl Weick, who has helped me understand the vital role of sensemaking in organizational change, particularly the unexpected change that high reliability organizations must face.
Reg Revans, a mentor and friend, with whom I share the deeply held belief that managers, when they talk openly and honestly with each other, are capable of addressing even the most difficult organizational issues.
Ron Heiftz, who focuses on the power leaders have to convene the organizational conversation around issues that matter.
Peter Block who knows that to change an organization you have to change the conversation.
Through all of this the role of conversation is central, thus, Conversation Matters.