When knowledge is not enough.

Like many great paradoxes, the question seems obvious, and the answer seems to beg self-evident understanding… until a project is proposed to put the issue in motion.

The topic is knowledge. The issue is typically “Are we doing the right things in capturing, sharing, and growing our collective enterprise knowledge?” The response is typically “probably not”.Then the group dialogue begins and everyone has a view because we are all knowledgeable about the how gain and use knowledge. We have all been learning things throughout our entire lives and we are all pretty good at it, or else we would not have attained the levels of success we now enjoy… whatever they may be.

Bob at ScreenBut those of us who dwell in enterprises of just about any size will admit that the “knowledge game” is often not always so clearly understood by all the players. Otherwise, we would not experience quotes like the following [all taken verbatim from real life enterprise project activity]:

  • “If this is another knowledge management project you can count me out… they are a waste of time and money.”
  • “Our knowledge is walking out of the door with each person who leaves the company.”
  • “We don’t know what we don’t know.”
  • “We must relearn how to learn about ourselves.”
  • “Why are my smartest teams making some of our dumbest decisions?”
  • “The last ‘community of practice’ we tried was used by about 5% of the team, who eventually gave up altogether because no one else was using it.”
  • “Is knowledge management a tool or a process?”
  • “I would love to get a good ‘lessons learned’ program underway, but we never seem to have time to get it started .”

You can probably add many more quotes to this list… and in fact we welcome you to send us your favorites.

As with all effective solutions to critical issues, the problem must first be well understood. In the upcoming weeks and months, this blog will offer concepts, methods, and solutions for the 21st Century “enterprise knowledge paradox”. Companies are getting smarter and smarter – in fact they MUST get smarter to succeed in the new global economy [the next post will address this issue].

Stay tuned. Our experience is telling us this is a great conversation to have. We may not be asking all the right questions, but the ones that we are asking will change the way you “think” in your organization.

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