Saturday, February 24, 2018

Conversations among KM Practitioners

The soon to be renamed Knowledge Management Association - DC Chapter held its monthly face-to-face meeting yesterday.  John Hovell facilitated a knowledge cafe starting us of with a short informal presentation on what he sees as a a set of trends leading to convergence of Knowledge Management, Organization Development, Diversity and Inclusion, and Systems Thinking (not sure I'm remembering this last one correctly but Systems Thinking was discussed in the mix).

In my mind, it's not so much that any convergence is really happening across disciplines, it's just that Knowledge Management has always been interdisciplinary and therefore crosses many other disciplines. Someone interested in Artificial Intelligence is probably observing a convergence between KM and AI.  We all approach KM from our personal framework, disciplinary background and professional experience. 

At the center of this convergence framework, John put the concept of conversational leadership.

As a tangent, I was also scanning through Kimiz Dalkir's Knowledge Management in Theory and Practice (3rd Edition) and I was struck by the number of KM models and frameworks presented. Clearly, there is no consensus on how to look at KM simply because it is so interdisciplinary. I also like the way Chun Wei Choo looks at it in  The Knowing Organization: How Organizations Use Information to Construct Meaning, Create Knowledge and Make Decisions. Choo approaches KM from an information science perspective without making it about IT.

I hope we can continue the conversation within the Knowledge Management Community and I would recommend that we focus on the concept of conversational leadership to explore it further. It's not new. It deserves re-visiting.

Conversations don't solve everything but they embody both the simplicity and complexity of human interactions. What is it about conversations that is so powerful? From a practical standpoint, how can we, as KM professionals, introduce "effective" conversations in the workplace? When we say "effective conversation" what does that mean? How do conversations relate to another KM tool, storytelling? Is that part of a bigger theme of narratives? I could keep going with questions and how things relate to each other.

How do conversations facilitate the transformation of individual knowledge into team and organizational knowledge? How can I integrate conversational leadership skills as a learning objective in classes I teach (both face-to-face and online)? If your job focuses on employee engagement then you'd be asking how do conversations support employee engagement.

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