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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.

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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?