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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 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”.

Social Etiquette: Talk, Telephone, Text or Tweet?

Can you believe it? A person was having a long and loud cell phone conversation while exercising beside me at the gym! We were both on elliptical machines. I agree, depending upon how vigorously you’re working out, it is possible to have face-to-face conversations with others you meet and greet at the gym – short conversations being the ideal. But, Mr. Long-winded was talking for over half of my 20 minute workout, and actually drove one person away to another machine after having to listen to such annoying ramblings. And, of course, Mr. Long-winded was totally oblivious to anyone’s annoyance.

It got me thinking about social etiquette and the use of modern technology in a situation like this.

From his perspective, Mr. Long-winded obviously didn’t care what others were thinking. He continued on with his loud, chatty-chatty exercise routine insensible to others or – even worse – on purpose to annoy others.

Oh, look at me and how important and smart I am. I can talk on the phone and exercise at the same time!!!

If his talk had been about more urgent matters there may have been more leeway; but, his casual, shrill banter about who was “doing” who seemed to make it even more inappropriate.

Would I have thought differently if Mr. Long-winded was simply talking to another person who walked up to his machine or was working out beside him? Probably not.

For the most part, many gym-goers (including me) rely on headphones plugged into music or podcasts to distract us from the pain of exercise-burn, the noise of fellow sweat-makers, or the gym-socializing that goes on around us.  We can usually tune out the surrounding din and focus on the exercise at hand.  Yet, I could actually hear this guy’s conversation over my music! If this same loud conversation had been going on face-to-face for ten minutes and I overheard their talking within my own little iPod world, I’d still be annoyed.

Then I started thinking about social etiquette and the use of other forms of social technology in a place like the gym. Thank goodness for mp3s, iPods and iPhones to keep us motivated while exercising; but would I have thought differently if he was somehow managing to maneuver the machine while texting to someone at the same time. Probably not.

As a matter of fact, I might actually find it amusing watching his elliptical arms try to text – especially for over ten minutes. I’m sure he’d only manage to type out a few sentences, but what’s the point? It’s not usually part of  exercising. Or are we so digitally-addicted we can’t step back from it – even while exercising?

Then there’s Twitter. This I can perhaps understand a little better if one wants to quickly inform the world about your most recent activity (exercising) or link/send some immediate relevant information. Even browsing Twitter to retweet might be easier if you really felt the need to communicate with someone else while exercising. But again, what’s the point? It’s not usually part of exercising – or has this changed recently? Am I missing out? Should I be pulling out the iPhone and calling all my friends while swimming now?

Don’t get me wrong. I know there are great health & fitness apps like DailyBurn that can be used to list or track your exercises while you’re actually exercising, but they’re meant for simple, fast input – not lengthy conversations or ongoing data drivel.

So, I think it wasn’t so much that he was talking on his cell phone but that he was talking LOUDLY on his cell phone; and it wasn’t so much that he was talking LOUDLY on his cell phone, but that he was talking LOUDLY and LONG on his cell phone; and it wasn’t so much that he was talking LOUDLY and LONG on his cell phone, but that he was using TECHNOLOGY at the WRONG time in the WRONG place.

Am I right or am I wrong?

Do we go to a fitness place to exercise or socialize? Or perhaps this is taking mutli-tasking to the next level? Are you there to focus and get fit or talk, telephone, text or tweet?

I’m all for communicating and exchanging knowledge and experience – especially sometimes in a timely manner – as I think it’s vital to the development of new ideas, meeting deadlines or creating effective relationships. Current technology and use of social media provides us with this great opportunity. But isn’t there still a proper time and place?

I hope so! Or next time, you might be the one overhearing that long, loud and annoying cell phone conversation at the gym!