Professionalism in Knowledge Management

Yesterday I keynoted at iCKM in Columbus Ohio on “Accountability, Professionalism and Performance in Knowledge Management”. I drew a fairly bleak conclusion on all three elements as they are inextricably linked:

Ed Dale has done a pretty good job of summarising my main points.

Here are the session slides. I referred in the speech to the podcast interview with Dave Snowden and Larry Prusak, which is here, with a good session transcript guide linked here. I also presented the North American data from our iKMS survey on how much organisations seem to be investing in KM capabilities, and the full data tables from that survey are given together with a video speech on a related topic given last year here.

I didn’t end on a completely bleak note, nor do I agree that KM is dead (I seem to have given some participants that impression). In the last couple of slides I do look at some of the constructive things we can do (and are doing in Singapore) to break out of the viciously short non-learning cycles that knowledge managers go through.

4 Comments so far

Hi Patrick,

This is another excellent presentation.  I see that you’ve expanded on the points you were making at the IIM conference in Canberra 2007.

I was particularly fascinated by your four new poles of Research, Social Reform, Government and Commerce.  I’ll have to think about these some more—but I notice you haven’t placed any KM roles directly on this slide.

In your list of “What We Need to Do”, you firstly talk about “a route to ‘chartered’ status”, but then turn around and say we need to “run the certification cowboys out of town”.

While I don’t disagree with the sentiment, it does occur to me that the “cowboys” might claim ill-treatment on a factional basis—i.e. that we are trying to discredit them from personal dislike rather than any intrinsic deficiencies with their interpretation.

How would any “chartered” approach establish its bona fides, particularly given our community’s sometimes fractious approach basics of KM.

Posted on October 26, 2008 at 12:09 PM | Comment permalink

Patrick Lambe

Hi Stephen

The second four-pole slide was actually trying to model the public health space about a hundred years ago, just to show an analogous scenario where the relationships were built.

The chartered status idea is based on a peer review-peer learning mechanism, not on course content, and it assumes you’ve already had some years of KM working experience.

Posted on October 26, 2008 at 05:23 PM | Comment permalink

Ah, that makes sense now.  Out of interest, if you mapped these public health roles again today, do you think there would be much movement in their positioning?  Or are these positions intrinsic to the roles themselves?

From curiosity, I tracked down the original charter of incorporation for the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (formed in 1880).  It’s interesting to see how the basic drivers for any kind of formal “chartering” of a profession tend to be the same:

(a) improved recognition and acceptance of the discipline
(b) improved standards of practice by all in the field
(c) desire to stamp out widespread practices seen as unethical or damaging to the profession’s reputation
(d) restriction of “official” recognition to those with extensive practical experience in the field

Overall, the process of setting up a society or institute to perform this type of accreditation seems relatively well-understood.

So given your capacity as President of iKMS, are you pursuing setting up such an accreditation mechanism?  If not, what do you see as the main blockages for getting acceptance of this kind of proposal?

Posted on October 26, 2008 at 06:32 PM | Comment permalink

Patrick Lambe

In theory they could certainly move, especially as this is a subjective assessment. Other people might position the roles differently.

Thanks for the ICA link.. (c) needs a bit of a reboot post-Enron!

iKMS is mainly Singapore based so doesn’t really have sufficient representativeness to undertake such a process alone. The main barriers are representativeness/spread (eg getting different societies and associations to work together on this) and time (when you’re in a small association like iKMS with volunteer board members, much of the effort goes to first line services such as organising events for members.

But as such associations grow, they start talking to each other, and they build some excess capacity to work on such things, so I’m hopeful.

Posted on October 27, 2008 at 02:03 PM | Comment permalink

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