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?