The LIFE of Knowledge Management

September 24, 2007

In a recent actKM post, I was jokingly commenting on the origins of KM, inspired by a wonderful 1960’s style mashup by Patrick Lambe.  I wrote:

Ned Kelly’s reputed final words of “Such is life” is his considered reflection on the role that knowledge management played in his capture, incarceration and execution and is something for us all to ponder on as the underlying purpose of knowledge management.  His use of the word life has been suggested to be an acronym of the four pillars of knowledge management at the time (learning, intention, falsification and exploration), although this remains disputed.

I pondered these four pillars a bit more, particularly after a comment on the list by Stephen Bounds who wondered if the term LIFE had been used elsewhere in the KM Community.   

I thought that it could be really neat if LIFE may be something like a life cycle of knowledge management but it does not fit that purpose.  You can’t really start with learning, intention would be better – and finishing with exploration?.  But I described these as 4 pillars, not a cycle.  LIFE then is:

Learning – single and double loop learning, after action reviews, the whole notion of the learning organisation and what we can take away from other organisation’s KM practices.
Intention – where KM meets strategy and focusing on the purpose.
Falsification – where knowledge is “solutions to problems”, then you need to be clear about what you are trying to solve and how you measure whether you have been successful
Exploration – here we capture the creativity and innovation processes of knowledge discovery.

The four LIFE pillars of knowledge management could be conceptualised as a table – offering stability and structure that drive an organisation’s KM capabilities. 

Some people tend not to focus on exploration in its pure form and instead look at how technology can be used to fuel innovation – hence where LIFE of KM now becomes how organisations can get a LIFT from doing KM.  Perhaps rather than LIFT it is actually more of a FLIT of KM where people just touch on some of these things and don’t embed it in the organisation. 

I’m sure there are lots more acronyms that people could enjoy composing.  An acronym a day keeps the pragmatist at bay?


Revisiting “The Dot” with Foresight students

September 8, 2007

Earlier this week, I presented to the Strategic Foresight class of Masters students at Swinburne University.  As with many workshops that I conduct, I started with “The Dot” exercise.  I was particularly interested to see if foresight students gave a different interpretation to that of others – and they did!

A couple of people had the circle around the dot which is unusual but not too much so.  There was a couple of spirals emanating from the dot, wings and infinity signs (8 on its side) with the dot in the centre which is the first time that these had arisen.

What I found most insightful was that none of the students had an arrow or arrows of any description which had never happened before in any other group.  I take this that the group of students did not think of the future in a direct linear manner (as compared with many other people) but as something that emerges from the current position in a curved way that could spiral back or move in a different direction from the start.  This could be viewed as a more sophisticated and nuanced view – from students who have read more widely about changes in the future rather than a general audience who look at it more singularly.