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The Difference Between KM (Knowledge Management) & KMb (Knowledge Mobilization)

Anyone who carefully observes the continuing development of Knowledge Mobilization – particularly by means of social media – will recognize the difference between KM (Knowledge Management) and KMb (Knowledge Mobilization). Among knowledge mobilizers, knowledge brokers, researchers and researcher-users, the distinction is fairly clear; but for others the two terms continue to seem synonymous. They are not.

The field of Knowledge Management (KM) was established as a discipline in 1991. An important KM paper addressing what was earlier referred to as organizational knowledge was written by Ikujiro Nonaka who made the early connection between tacit knowledge (experiential) and explicit knowledge (articulated, codified, and stored) with knowledge conversion – the interaction of these forms of knowledge – particularly to enhance an organisation’s efficiency, productivity and profitability. KM places a strong emphasis on corporate knowledge culture. Nonaka used the following model to demonstrate:

The field of knowledge Mobilization (KMb) continues to emerge, roughly established within the past decade. Early-on Knowledge Mobilization also adopted KM as an abbreviated identifier, but is now using KMb to make a clear distinction. Some of the early KMb literature refers to knowledge mobilization as KM, which also causes some unfortunate confusion. For a very brief KMb history lesson click here.

I recently tweeted about the distinction between KM and KMb after thinking about ways to make the difference more concise and better understood. My tweet:

Knowledge Management (KM) is the content; Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) is the process.

Knowledge Management is about strategies and practices of organizing information to identify, create, represent, and distribute knowledge in a systematic manner within an organizational structure. It is the seemingly confined content of knowledge.

Knowledge Mobilization is the overall flow and on-going and constant input and development of knowledge. It is the open process of putting available knowledge into active service to benefit not just one particular corporate or organizational structure, but for the greater benefit of all in society.

It is the more corporate and organizationally confining factor of KM that makes it different from the socially inclusive and contributory factor of KMb.

To provide an analogy: Knowledge Management is like a cup that contains and provides structure; Knowledge Mobilization is like the liquid that can fill the cup to overflowing – always open to the multidirectional flow and input of knowledge from many sources that contributes to the constant liquid being poured for and provided by everyone. Is knowledge ever a limited source?

Both KM and KMb are important for knowledge development. But the distinction must be made between the KM content and the KMb process; the KM organizational or corporate confinement of knowledge and the KMb social or community flow of knowledge.

Knowledge Mobilization With A Conscience

I recently read two short but thought-provoking pieces: 75+ Ways To Do Good With Social Media by Mashabel Assistant Features Editor Zachary Sniderman (on Twitter @zsniderman),

and a Twitter post and blog by Erika Harrison @eharrisondotorg: The Intellectual Value of Caring from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Each reminded me (one through the power of social media; the other through intellectual caring) that the best efforts to combat social problems always include both thinking and action in doing something good for others. Knowledge Mobilization is a combination of both thinking and action.

Knowledge without a heart is empty and useless knowledge.

Knowledge Mobilization without a conscience is worthless and not effective.

Peter Levesque, Founder and Director of Knowledge Mobilization Works (on Twitter @peterlevesque) considers knowledge mobilization – at its deepest level – “an act of love”. This is far from being some pie-in-the-sky ideal. The most fundamental reason for sharing and being open to other knowledge and experience really stems from an openness to love. Now, I’m not saying everyone should participate in some big love-in, but Peter makes an important point.

On a more basic level, whenever I discuss Knowledge Mobilization (KMb) as a participatory and inclusive way of knowledge collaboration between researchers and research users, I often make the rather limited assumption that Knowledge Mobilization is automatically useful to everyone. Sadly, it is not. In our new knowledge economy, there are plenty of people who are still in need of the basic economic necessities of shelter, food, or clean water. Knowledge Mobilization would seem of little use to them. Fortunately, it is useful if knowledge is effectively mobilized.

Although those struggling may not concern themselves about or even know of KMb, Knowledge Mobilization is an effective means of informing policy makers – which in turn can help combat homelessness, hunger, and poor sanitation (even if those being helped may not actually be aware that the process of KMb is what helped them). So, KMb may not automatically be useful to everyone, but it is a way of bringing together researchers examining social problems with community agencies dealing directly with such issues in order to create effective social policies to overcome these issues.

When researchers inform and are open to being informed by multi-directional communication and knowledge that includes those living in poverty, social workers dealing with them, government agencies and policy makers assisting them, advocates lobbying for them, community agencies supporting them, as well as other university or community-based researchers studying them, the channels of knowledge mobilization are effectively opened and can contribute to greater value for all in society.

I believe everyone should have a voice in knowledge mobilization; but not every voice will have something helpful to say. Never the less, only when each voice has an opportunity to be heard and can contribute to the process of solving these social problems will such problems be eliminated. KMb is about creating value – not just for some, but for everyone.

When Knowledge Mobilization has a conscience everyone benefits.

Knowledge Mobilization Works

(Gary Myers)

As a Digital Researcher, it is with great pleasure that I – along with fellow knowledge mobilizer David Yetman – join Peter Levesque, the managing Director of Knowledge Mobilization Works (KMbW).  David and I will be working with Peter as Associates continuing to bring greater awareness and value to knowledge mobilization nationally and internationally.

(David Yetman)

David’s deep thinking and work in public engagement, my research skills and interests in social media, along with both our community-university outreach experience brings a strong combination to Peter’s already proven leadership, community development and creative approaches to knowledge mobilization.

(Peter Levesque)

Working with Peter will help continue to provide innovative consulting and training services to organizations across Canada to improve their ability to use effective knowledge in their decision making.  As Peter continues to seek and select other skilled knowledge mobilizers to add to the KMbW network, I look forward to working with such a valuable team to develop and promote our clients interests in knowledge mobilization to make better decisions to produce better outcomes.

A Career in Knowledge Mobilization

Translating Knowledge Across Sectors featuring David Phipps and Krista Jensen from ResearchImpact at York University, Toronto.

Knowledge Mobilization at Conferences & Workshops: Putting The “Social” In Presentations

I recently read two articles that pointed to a shift in how keynote and other speakers are using more social ways of presenting at conferences and workshops. I was using my @KMbeing Twitter account for mobilizing knowledge when I noticed (and reposted) a tweet from Erika Harrison on Twitter @eharrisondotorg:

Conference format acknowledges knowledge integration takes bit of time, reflection, & interaction – http://bit.ly/epIKBj HT @DavidGurteen

(David Gurteen is Knowledge Management advisor, speaker and facilitator. Founder of the Gurteen Knowledge Community and Gurteen Knowledge Cafes).

The tweet links to an original blog post from Nancy Dixon, (http://twitter.com/nancymdixon) Common Knowledge Associates.

Nancy recapped a recent U.S. Army Knowledge Management Conference that she attended and spoke at. Nancy titled the blog A Knowledge Management Conference that Actually Used KM Principles.

The second piece was from Susannah at SQHQ, posting a blog Social Presentation For Social Media about a recent Digital Researcher Higher Education Conference that brought researchers and phd students together “to help create a strong research community”.  Susannah helped run a session on the digital researcher.

The most interesting connection that I recognized between the two events is the effective use of changing the usual (and sometimes admittedly boring) focus of the plenary or keynote speaker’s one-way “droning” style of communication to a more participatory and social style of presentation. The audience was asked to help define the direction they wished the presentation to go with reportedly effective results.

Both blogs and styles of presentation reflect the underlying principles of knowledge mobilization (KMb) – to open up possibilities of multiple contributions to established knowledge in order to further enhance knowledge for a greater benefit to society.  This is not to say that some plenary or keynote speakers’ presentations that are informative and provide knowledge to listeners are not interesting and engaging. But taking the opportunity to engage a wider audience and draw from a pool of knowledge and experience not only makes a presentation more interesting – it makes it more collaborative and social.

This shift in making conference and workshop presentations more “social” is a welcome approach to the fundamental principles of knowledge mobilization – greater emphasis on the multiple contributions and co-operation for the creation of knowledge. As the tweet pointed out, such a format of knowledge integration may take a little more time and effort, but the final results are worth it. Not only will conferences and workshops be more exciting to attend (with less drooling and heavy eye-lids) – but also more “social”.

Political Obstacles To Knowledge Mobilization

At a recent Ontario KTE (Knowledge Transfer & Exchange) Community of Practice (CoP) presentation, I had the opportunity to join a discussion with former Ontario Deputy Minister of Education, Ben Levin and Janet Mason, Assistant Deputy Minister of Planning & Research with the Ontario Provincial Government’s Cabinet Office. (Ben Levin is currently Professor and Canada Research Chair in Education Leadership and Policy at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education).

The topic of conversation was Research to Policy – how researchers inform government policy and how government policy informs research.

Ben Levin began by talking about his experience in the world of politicians. He jokingly says he was “coerced” to serve as Deputy Minister – first in Manitoba, then in Ontario – due to his extensive experience as an educator. Link to a previous presentation that Ben made at a KMb Seminar while in government here.

Levin suggests that the biggest obstacle to research becoming policy is the government system itself. Due to the very nature of the Canadian, partisan political system, a mindset exists that already inhibits any politician’s desire to make their opponents’ research interests their own. Levin says when promises are already made by politicians, it’s difficult to listen to research. A further point Levin made is that the time constraints of four-year political terms means politicians only pick a few issues during office – limiting the research that is actually selected for policy.

Levin also says a final obstacle is the electorate – the voters themselves – who may not necessarily be interested in the same research to policy agenda that the politicians are. Levin asserts that these three factors are the main obstacles to overcome to achieve policy results from research.

Janet Mason agreed with Levin and pointed out that the government process overly focuses on stakeholders and is one of the main barriers to knowledge mobilization in achieving research to policy. Mason suggests a need to get conversations in a “safe place” that isn’t politicized – which includes public consultations. When I asked her for clarification on where such a “safe place” might be, she was unable to answer directly, but suggested that the partisan nature of limiting research to policy needs to be momentarily put aside for the more significant issues that effect the general public (like education tuition and the environment) to become a priority.

Mason stressed the importance of public consultations in the political process while acknowledging the current political barriers that exist. The bottom line: if you can’t mobilize voters, you can’t mobilize knowledge.

Both Levin and Mason agree there is a political or policy window of opportunity in getting research to policy, with Levin quoting from John Kingdon’s  book Angendas and Public Policies for further information.

They provided a further lesson about the delicate political balance that politicans face in not being too far ahead of the electorate.

Although it may seem a rather gloomy prospect for any researcher to get their findings into policy based on such political barriers, Levin encourages researchers to continue with the process of research through knowledge mobilization for the value of evidence-based research itself with the hope that some of that research might make it over the hurdles of the political obstacles that continue to exist.

Knowledge Mobilization: Inclusive Knowledge Bridging the Types, Uses, and Places of Knowledge

Knowledge Mobilization (KMb)

Reviewing some of my Delicious bookmarks, I re-read Waiting for the Social Semantic Web. What struck me again is a statement about the distinction between Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 – the so-called semantic web. As we gather information by bookmarking and tagging we are linking various topics with various contexts – creating links to assist us in easier tracking and referral. But we are also contributing to the future of intelligent machines. The great divide between humans and thinking machines appears to be getting smaller with every tag that links information in a more digital way. Supposedly, the Semantic Web will make information stored on the Internet even more readily accessible not only to humans but to intelligent machines in a more meaningful way.

But how do we define intelligence and what is meant by meaningful? Meaningful is a slippery word that should not be confused with meaning.

Meaning has a definitional element, a descriptor for an object. Meaningful has a subjective element that is personalized with each individual. As we all know, what is meaningful to one person may not be meaningful to another. So can intelligent machines have meaningful knowledge?

Before answering that,  it’s necessary to first understand what is meant by knowledge. There are many forms of knowledge: academic, expertise or skill, theoretical or practical, awareness or basic understanding. Further types of knowledge include communicating (style) knowledge, situated knowledge, partial knowledge, scientific knowledge and symbolic knowledge. Yet, even the very definition of knowledge continues to be debated.

There are also two uses of knowledge: instrumental (the practical application of knowledge as a means or agency), and conceptual (the thoughtful, reflective process). How knowledge is used is also dependent upon context.

Is knowledge strictly something academic (objective) and found in the ivory towers of university or formal institutions of the world, or is knowledge something that every person (subjective) in the community has to share? This is at the heart of knowledge mobilization (KMb) where definitional knowledge is now being enmeshed with meaningful knowledge. Knowledge Mobilization is now connecting definitial knowledge with meaningful knowledge by connecting research and researchers with community organizations and individuals – listening to their voices while also providing information with a more social, collaborative approach to knowledge.

Now back to the semantic machines…

Like those intelligent machines, KMb is creating links to bridge the great, historical divides between types of knowledge, the use of knowledge, and the places of knowledge – in order to contribute to the greater benefit of society.

While the Semantic Web is advancing slowly – also being formed based on the linking of all types, uses, and places of knowledge – these three elements of knowledge are already being combined in Knowledge Mobilization. It’s through KMb that meaningful knowledge is being created by including, listening to, learning from, and linking all aspects of knowledge.

Intelligent machines may not actually be capable of creating meaningful knowledge, but using social media and the Internet for Knowledge Mobilization is a key way of contributing meaningful knowledge to the machines – and more importantly to the greater benefit of humans in society.

Knowledge Mobilization, Universities and The Knowledge Revolution

Walter Stewart, who considers himself a “client-centered” consultant “for a knowlede-based economy” was a keynote speaker at the annual Canadian Higher Education Information Technology Conference (CANHEIT) held this past summer at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada.  Several months have past since his presentation, but his challenge to universities – to IT administrators, staff and academic institutions as a whole (as well as the broader challenge to society) – still remains an extremely relevant call. I only recently received a forwarded copy of his presentation, but feel his views continue to be worth hearing.

Stewart talked about the current knowledge paradigm shift that I referred to in my last blog.  He pointed out that universities (and society in general) are experiencing a knowledge revolution – a revolution in ways of knowing – unprecendented in the past thousand years. According to Stewart it is part of a “process that is changing the very ways human beings know.” He suggests that those working in universities need to examine their information infrastructures and require “a well-developed sense of context” to keep up to the emergence of our new digital world, the “primacy of data” and the evolving knowledge economy (especially in emerging markets like China and India).

Stewart suggests the current role of the university is changing with the knowledge-based economy as they move from serving a niche elite market of scholars and researchers to serving a broader number of learners and knowledge mobilizers. I was very interested in Stewart’s approach in admonishing universities to evolve, and the implications of his message for all of society.

In previous posts of my blog, I have pointed out how researchers (academic/institutional) and research-users are working more collaboratively through knowledge mobilization as part of a greater free flow of data that is contributing to the greater benefit of society. As a community-based digital researcher working within (but not officially affiliated with) a university, it’s my intention to show the greater context that Stewart is talking about that is the reason for knowledge mobilization.

 

 

 

 

 

I am what Angie Hart (no, not the Australian pop singer Angie Hart!) would call “a boundary spanner” helping to bring university and community together.  I am attempting to bring greater awareness of how knowledge mobilization at the community level can inform researchers at the university level and vice versa. It’s good to see someone like Walter Stewart making that message known to university administrators directly. Stewart’s message is a knowledge mobilization message relevant to all of us – now living in a knowledge-driven digital age.

For the video of Walter Stewart’s keynote address link here AND SCROLL DOWN TO… Keynote 6: The Role of Higher Educational Institutions in Infrastructure
Walter Stewart
Wednesday, June 16, 2010, 8:45 – 9:45

The Knowledge Mobilization Paradigm Shift

Using social media for knowledge mobilization is the most important thing we can do as part of the newly-evolving paradigm shift from an information society to a knowledge society. We are seeing a transition from an economy based on material goods and information to one based on knowledge goods and mobilization using social media as an essential tool.

In order to understand this current paradigm shift, we must first recall previous societal revolutions from Agricultural to Industrial to Scientific – with the later leading to our more recent Information society and the subsequent greater manufacturing of material goods.

We must then understand the distinction of data, information, knowledge and knowledge mobilization. Of primary importance in the scientific revolution (and of course still today), data comes through research and collection. Information is how the data is organized. Knowledge is then built upon information, and Knowledge Mobilization is knowing what to do with that knowledge – how to synthesize the knowledge of both researchers and communities (academics and non-academics) in order to make it useful to society. Knowledge mobilization is the creation of multi-dimensional knowledge links or activities for the benefit of society.

At a recent business dinner I was asked by an executive member of an Ottawa based research organization how to best begin incorporating a knowledge mobilization strategy for what appears to be a research organization of  “old, white-collar dinosaurs” heading into irrelevance.

I suggested three key integrated steps to help them breath new life into their agency:

1) Face-To-Face Interaction: Getting their executive group to meet with other advisors from a variety of research, community and social media sectors – either in workshops, presentations or casual cocktail sessions – to generate conversation and ideas for funding and future projects.

2) Social Media Strategy: Developing a social media strategy that includes at least one designated social media staff member to help further promote the agencies work and firmly link and entrench the agency in the new paradigm shift by a successful use of social media tools like Twitter or Blogs.

3) Knowledge Mobilization (KMb): Constantly promoting and presenting the agency’s own knowledge while being informed by Face-To-Face Interaction and a Social Media Strategy about how to synthesize external knowledge with their own – through Knowledge Mobilization – for better use to society, and not just within their own specialization.

Researchers, government and community agencies are developing deeper relationships than ever before through knowledge mobilization.  Social media tools for knowledge mobilization are helping these agencies achieve meaningful results beyond just good information sharing.

The knowledge society is a new phase of society using social media sites like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook that make knowledge mobilization faster, efficient and more practical. But some researchers, scholarly associations, federations and government agencies are still not aware of the major importance and role that social media is playing in this emerging society today.

Those recognizing the major significance of using social media beyond casual conversations and family/friends contact (see previous blog) will help keep the older forms and structures of academic, government and community agencies from becoming irrelevant and dying out. Those who don’t…well?

Macro & Micro Knowlege Mobilization – The Social Link Between Researchers and Research Users

(KMb Knowledge Mobilization)

Here’s a knowledge mobilization challenge for any researchers, community workers or policy makers…O.K. let’s open it up even further to anyone who is a research user (if you think you don’t use research in your everyday life – think again):

Ask as many employees, co-workers, faculty members, bosses, clients, patients, consumers, teachers, friends or family about using social media for knowledge mobilization (O.K…anyone you know). How many can tell you they used an iPhone app for knowledge mobilization? (If they don’t know what knowledge mobilization is – send them to this link). When was the last time one of them posted something insightful on Facebook with implications for research rather than a personal post for friends and family? Who provides or has ever received links about research, the work of community organizations or announcements and requests for input from policy makers on Twitter? Or quite basically, when was the last time you watched a TV show or news broadcast about current discoveries, or talked face-to-face to someone about really interesting things you know about in your life? Did you share your insights or discoveries using social media to pass that knowledge on?

If your experience is similar to mine, far too often you’ll hear “What’s knowledge mobilization?”; “I’m too old to use a computer”; “I only use Facebook to keep connected with friends and family” or “Twitter seems like a waste of time!”

But more often you’ll hear “Did you see that discovery/invention/how-to/news story about…?”; “I was talking to so-and-so about this great idea…” or “My son/daughter/husband wife came home from school/work today and told me something new they’re learning/doing.”

So why the uncertainty about social media for knowledge mobilization and the assumption that social media is only for casual conversations, or that some of the more informative casual conversations don’t count as knowledge mobilization? Because many people don’t understand the use of social media beyond the common meaning of social (casual conversations or entertainment links and blogs) to the influential meaning of social in social media. Many don’t recognize how they can play a part in the development of research and policy making – by sharing some of their more basic, informative conversations.

I refer to this as the micro level of knowledge mobilization using social media -when each person informs and contributes knowledge for the greater benefit of society via the web through their everyday social circles.

The macro level of knowledge mobilization refers to the more formal multi-dimensional links or activities among researchers and research-users that takes place between university or institutional researchers and community organizations or policymakers.

All of us talk to real people and share knowledge whether it’s face-to-face or on Web accounts and social media pages – we interact with each other formally or informally sharing knowledge. And as adoption of social media tools continues to evolve – like mobile apps that merge online and face-to-face encounters – we will begin to have more face-to-face “social media” interactions that are perfect opportunities for micro and macro levels of knowledge mobilization.

So ask some questions and share some answers via social media with your employees, co-workers, faculty members, bosses, clients, patients, consumers, friends or family. It may or may not be at the macro level of knowledge mobilization, but it’s always worthwhile to pass knowledge on even at the micro level of knowledge mobilization.