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Creating a knowledge strategy

By Dave Snowden  ·  November 4, 2014  ·  Knowledge Management, Reflections

I'm back at KM World in Washington having keynoted at the event for well over a decade now.  Once it was virtual and I was represented on stage by a pumpkin, but I've learnt my lesson from that and now I turn up!   It is now the main KM event worldwide with other events suffering a decline in budgets and attendance and combines with other events using shared keynote.   I'm up on Friday before flying back to the UK.    Today I delivered a half day workshop on Creating a KM Strategy and I have, as promised, loaded the slides to our web site for those interested.

Interestingly the approach I outlined is based on one of the earliest methods I ever created over two decades ago.  The sequence of thinking went roughly like this:

  1. We have to map what we know and make it relevant to people in power
  2. People only know what they know when they need to know it
  3. So to ask people what they know is to ask a meaningless question in a meaningless context
  4. Knowledge is best remembered/stimulated by creating a rich context of decisions
  5. Decisions are best revealed through stories
  6. So lets map the narratives of decision making
  7. Then ask questions about the decisions that emerge from a range of perspectives

Now from that a lot of things happened.   Firstly it got me into narrative not from a communication perspective but with a view to discovery.  Secondly it started a drive to create bottom up approaches that represented reality not the idealised process models which were starting to be touted back then.  Thirdly I realised that small projects addressing real current intractable problems would have higher utility than trying to close the gap to an idealised future state.

Over the last couple of years I've gone back to this older and partially lost method and revitalised it taking into account what I now know about complexity theory and condition.  In doing so the earlier intuition that created the method has proved sound and I've been able to scale it.   Its now part of the teaching on day three of our accreditation courses and also a stand alone process that can be augmented using SenseMaker® but does not require that to work.

Over the next couple days I'll post the process with commentary before finishing with my keynote on Friday.  In the mean time you can puzzle out my choice of image.