Just going back through about a month of actKM listserv posts and found this snippet in a gem from Steve Denning. Steve’s book on the Secret Language of Leadership is one of the seven sitting neglected on my bedside table.
[There was a] Q&A panel at the recent KCUK conference in London, where Victor Newman, formerly of Pfizer, had some interesting things to say, when someone asked (inevitably) whether KM was dying.
Victor distinguishes two kinds of KM. One is KM related to supporting the company’s existing strategy. The other is KM related to supporting the strategy that the company will need to survive in tomorrow’s world. His assumption is that most companies are dying in the sense that the strategy they are currently pursuing will not provide long-term survival, a premise supported by the fact that roughly half of the Fortune 1000 companies of 20 years ago no longer exist. And all the signs are that the death rate is accelerating.
So it’s not so much a question of whether firms will have to change their strategy, but rather: when? And how much time have they got? In effect, every strategy has a sell-by date. The knowledge angle on this is: the knowledge that you need to be successful today is not likely to be the knowledge that you will need to be successful tomorrow. The easy, the convenient, the comfortable thing to do is to keep focusing on the knowledge that makes you successful today, and delivering that knowledge more efficiently. At best, this buys you time, not survival. The more important, more difficult and more uncomfortable thing is to focus
on what knowledge you will need to be successful tomorrow.
I particularly liked how Steve has put into words my approach to link KM and futures. The key aspect of my “future” work is not in developing strategies for getting current knowledge to workers but in identifying the knowledge strategies required to discover, create and share knowledge for the future direction and viability of the organisation.
Now many would think that of course that is what a knowledge strategy should contain, identifying the future knowledge requirements. But many, if not most, do not. They fail to question assumptions, explore uncertainties or consider the longer term.