13:51 11/06/2004 Mathemagenic: KM Summer School log
on personal productivity in knowledge-intensive environments, weblog research, knowledge management, PhD, serendipity and lack of work-life balance...

KM Summer School log

I did an experiment of blogging from KM Summer School. It worked (at least for me :) Now I'm trying to use my notes for reporting about the conference, but reading them in reverse direction is not very easy. So, I collected all of them here together with links to the program of each day. May be useful for someone else as well.

Original posts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of September 2002.

Later additions at Knowledge Board:

KMSS follow up: Quaerere - Special Interest Group on KM research



I'm leaving for KM Summer School. I'll try to post from there, otherwise I will be back with all fresh ideas in the middle of September.


Day 1. A Review of KM Frameworks for Theory and Practice

Today was an introductory day: icebrakers, getting to know each other and discussing KM models. Highlights and insights:

For the first time I've heard the story of 3M inventing post-its. This is a great example, so I'm going to find out more details

From the analysis of KM characteristics in a company - there is less difference between "current" and "should be" descriptions at the individual level, as people tend to be more critical about "them", the organisation.

Gunnar Hedlund (1994) in his KM model uses "articulated" rather then "explicit" knowledge. I like it more, it shows the origin of knowledge.

I was suprised how many people talk about context, trust and values rather then technologies for KM

I should look for ideas of Kuhn about evolution of scientific ideas

We had a great "knowledge market" activity: everyone wrote their "look for" and "to share" points on the piece of paper that is hanging on the walls around. I already found several people interested in my "KM/learning" topic

French keyboard is awful - tomorrow I'll try writing in my laptop and then sending.

An observation: best discussions happen when you don’t have pen and paper, around a dinner table or in a bar. Next morning you come back and try to capture them, but not much left. I wonder, probably the value of this discussions not in their result (something to be captured), but in learning experiences you go through. Few more useful bits:

  • Thigs to find and to read
  • Questions to think about
    • If KM is so context-specific, could it be researched in a scientific sense (fixed variables and repeatable conditions)? Could I run into a situation when I would have to omit important variables? Something to look for in the research methodologies.
    • Does organisational learning exist? Not as a result of knowledge flows in the networks of people in a company, but as something else?


Day 2. Sustainable Communities of Practice

User profile: you can make open only two things: contact details and contribution. You can’t (formally) add “CV experiences” because of the legal rules (trade unions), so you have to rely on people voluntarily adding information about their experiences. Then you run into cultural problem – “if I’m the only one visible expert, everyone will call me and I will not be able to do my work”.

Large vs. small communities. If trust relationships could be only developed in a group up to 150 people, can we call the group of thousands “a community”? Are we talking about different types of communities that evolve/work according different rules and that can contribute to the different business needs? I’d like to look for more background reading about it. (ask for the research done).

In the afternoon we divided into several groups with objective to think about creating a community based on our common (KM) interests. It turned out to be funny exercise: people wanted to discuss interest, but not creating a community around it. For me it’s related to the discussion about natural development of a community that you can’t reinforce – it grows or not.

We did a kind of voting to select topic for interest groups, so the selection is a good representation of “hot topics” between KMSS participants.

Interest groups (with some comments or ideas)

Methodologies for KM practice group discussed need for a framework for KM implementation and guidelines: when to do what and why it should work. Personally I’d like to add HRD/training/learning methods to the spectrum of KM tools

I was surprised how many people joined cross-cultural issues in KM group. Next to other things this group suggested to look in three directions regarding the problem

  • case-studies in companies
  • interactive translations
  • assimilation vs. customisation

Communities of practice raised a heated discussion

  • Definition of community is not clear. Group suggested several characteristics: shared understanding, social capital, similar values, system of activity, two or more people.
  • How far (if) management interventions can support natural developments of a community? Are those interventions responsible for a death of the community?
  • If community is capable of innovating?

KM in engineering

  • What engineers want: knowledge is organised and visible (at this point I’ve got some ideas about knowledge-logs in engineering :)
  • Why: keep knowledge in company/department, faster learning curve

Context sensitiveness was my group. We went for a bit philosophical discussion about the importance of context and tacit, but then turned to more practical things: ways to share context and tacit knowledge. We didn’t have many answers, but more questions:

  • What is context?
  • What kind of value shared context adds?
  • How to support sharing context? What technology can do and what not? What motivation and skills people need? What kind of environment?

Day 3. Connecting KM Research and Practice

Core questions for today's presentations: Why are you doing KM? What's the connection with research? What are you looking for?

We worked in three groups to identify practical problems and research questions in three groups: private sector, SMEs and governmental/non-profit organisations.

Problem list for private sector

  • informal networks (e.g. communities) vs. hierarchy
  • where KM is located in a company? Is there KM department? Who is responsible?
  • how to show KM success to managers and employees (=individual benefits): measurement and making people believing in KM
  • knowledge is power vs. sharing
  • right implementation decision on a small scale
  • range of competencies in KM team
  • KM competencies that enable people to share knowledge
  • long-term vision: how to show that initial investments lead to future benefits
  • communicating across different perspectives, background, languages
  • articulating knowledge - how to scale up elicitation and active sharing
  • how KM reaches those who don not have access to a computer
  • finding who knows what
  • technologies are not designed for people

Next to it we had extended discussions about connecting KM research and practice. I’ve got a feeling that we deal with typical KM problem: there are two groups of people with different goals, languages and mindsets, and knowledge is not openly flows between them. This discussion has triggered more thinking, but so far it’s too implicit to write about :)

I also thought about a couple of emerging research directions. One would be to look at motivation and embedding KM activities into everyday work. Next is KM introduction in a company: getting people involved, decision-making and power games. KM across heterogeneous groups is another: how to overcome barriers for knowledge flows between different contexts.


Day 4. Individual and Organisational Learning

Finally I’m totally confused. It’s not only difficult to narrow down my ideas for PhD research, they are also getting more diverse. And I don’t know what do to with it. Does anyone knows a strategy to define a PhD?

Blogging from the conference feels strange: I have a laptop next to my paper notes. It takes a bit of time to arrange notes into readable form, so I publish them with some delay. Sometimes I’m not sure what I can include (I know that presenters are not aware that some ideas from their presentation can go out of the room), so I include mainly “safe” things – brainstorming results and my own comments. I’m going to come back to these notes for a bit of editing and adding a few links (KMSS organisers promise to publish all the presentations on-line). The funny thing is that I still need a piece of paper next to the laptop – for drawings, contact details and bits of ideas that are not mature enough to become full sentences.

Back to work I’ll have to write a report about KMSS (this is usual practice in my company). I wonder how I will use my blog notes: as a basis, rewriting text around them, or as an attachment that shows my personal impressions. But in any case it might appear at the KMSS web-page, as organisers are interested :)

I’ve got a bit of time to reflect more on my experiences during KMSS.

  • I met only a few people who knew about blogs (only one outside “knowledgeboard”). I expect that it will get more time for the idea to get rooted in KM community.
  • KM and learning people still talk different languages.
  • (related) KM is evolving discipline, but it seems like an evolution in isolation. KM people are getting stuck with KM problems: they (we) can hardly communicate across boundaries of their discipline.
  • 60 people is too much for a good networking: even with some degree of group discussions it’s difficult to talk to all that I would be interested. I really hope for “digital follow-up”.
  • Weather is never good when there is some free time

A couple of people were interested in blogs, so I presented my blog. We had a brief discussion about how and why blogging works and how it can be used in KM. I gave or promised a few links to blog/klog resources, so I hope that more interest will be generated. I'm also planning to finish an introductory story about blogs/klogs and their use for KM.

I'm curious to see if new blogs will appear because of it...


Day 5. Methodologies and Technologies for KM

Today I met Knowledgino, a funny mascot of KMSS. Does anyone have a photo?

Notes referring to the presentation of Rose Dieng-Kuntz:

Once more time I see that I should read Polyani and not to rely on references. Few days back someone noted that he writes about tacit and explicit knowledge as about to sides (characteristics) of knowledge. I have a feeling that something what we call explicit comes with tacit wrapping in any case (this is also something to do with context). Second point was today as a definition of tacit knowledge as something that "known without awareness, difficult to state, formalise and communicate though language". I guess this is the area where I can find some connections with learning as building knowledge.

I don't believe in organisational knowledge. I would rather say shared knowledge.

Metis is one type of knowledge according Baumard. I didn't really get the meaning, but it would be nice to see another meaning for the title of our KM project.

In the presentation corporate memory is defined as a result of collecting and making accessible explicit knowledge or articulating tacit knowledge that is crucial for a company. I'm not sure that memory is a good term to address it, as for me it strongly refers to the memory of human beings (which has a lot of tacit).

Our knowledge map is their competence map

Training design is not considered as a method of building corporate memory. Pity... I'm resisting to accept an approach that pretends to map knowledge in a different forms, but builds only within its own domain. Knowledge do exist in training/learning materials and training designs. Even more, they are available in digital and structured format via all kinds of e-learning systems. Why not to do one more step and include them into a list of systems that are "scanned" to build ontologies and so on... I expect that this is just a matter of some kind of XML bridge (I know that there are more problems around - getting KM and learning people talking to each other is one of them).

(related to the previous one) I also thought about NLP where there is a lot of experience in articulating (in a specific format) and reusing experts' strategies.

Just a concern of Doug - "corporate memory is the way to homogenise minds"

I hope that it doesn't look like I want to through away the presented work. I can see a lot of interesting results in area of knowledge mapping, ontologies, semantic webs and CSCW. I think that a lot of my colleagues would love to see the presentations and to ask more specific questions. I'll try to get proper links or contacts.

I'm trying to understand why existing and proven methods of "next door field" are not considered in KM. Language and mindset barriers? Organisational barriers? Lack of motivation or awareness? May be it's a good topic for a PhD: how to motivate knowledge flow between KM and learning communities :)

Let's do a bit of brainstorming of possible (nice, talking to myself :) I would start from identifying actors (KM/learning practitioners and researchers), then look for their goals and problems. I hope that then we can find some common ground in between and to start from there. I also expect that this could be much easier in practice rather then research. So, probably it's better to start from mapping practical connections and their added value (e.g. reusing KM objects in e-learning system).

The presentation of Fabien Gandon ontologies is brilliant. It provokes some thinking which I can't formalise in words yet. Some comments

  • Ontologies are living object
  • Ontologies are used to build other things (systems), so if ontology changes, those things have to change as well.
  • Would be nice to take a look at ProPer (an ontology to describe skills and competencies) and Reconciler (a tool to develop shared meaning of terms).

Something for my colleagues to look at: CoMMA project (corporate memory through agents). For me as well - it's used for orientation program for new employees.

Just a citation: artificial society [of agents] :)

PROMOTE project - building a tool to describe KM methods and systems.

I don't' understand everything, but I think that the idea is to create a metamodel of models/languages used to describe knowledge. (Note - it's possible to get demo and articles).

It could be interesting to see for our "networked business" people. It adds knowledge processes on the top of business processes.


KMSS is almost finished, we are having the evaluation. My feedback: I love the experience, but it could be more (people are always "hungry"). I gave my suggestions to the organisers, so I don't think that it worth writing them once more.

A few follow-up things:

A discussion "What type of business problems can you solve with KM?" is planned on Knowledge Board in October.

There is a bit of self-organisation between KM researchers (PhDs mainly). We are getting the commitment for a on-line interactions and we are planning to meet face-to-face around every three month. First meeting is planned on 13-14 December 2003 in Brussels

KMSS 2003 is planned on 7-12 September 2003, I want to make sure that I have funding in my PhD proposal :)

I guess I will have more follow-up thinking and posting. Now I'm getting ready for the final reception, saying "good bye", and for my vacation that starts in one hour...


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Last update: 11/22/2006; 6:59:26 PM.