You can't manage knowledge

Could open source knowledge be a reality?
You can't manage knowledge

You can try to manage knowledge, but by the time you have tried to categorise it, silo it and publish it the chances are it will have escaped your clutches and morphed into something entirely different.

I believe this is a key reason why Knowledge Management as defined by Gartner has been quite an elusive goal for many organisations despite the billions of dollars that has been invested over the years.

Knowledge in the context of a society is, by it's nature, a highly dynamic 'blob' of collective experience. What makes us so arrogant to think that we can even try to 'manage' it? The nature of managing something implies that it is controlled, shaped, or forced down a particular path.

Gartner includes the phrase "tacit, uncaptured knowledge of people" within it's definition. This is the key point. The most valuable knowledge is often tacit. It may also be outside your organisation not inside it, and worse, institutional knowledge may even act as a blindside to effective action.

So how do you allow this internal and external knowledge to be discoverable and actionable whilst still curating it's availability and consumption towards your organisational goals?

I believe allowing knowledge to be shared and open within a niche community is the key. Think of the way open source software has benefited the human race: the internet and world wide web would simply not exist as it is today without it.

The open source approach is re-emerging in other areas, we're already witnessing the beginnings of an Open Source Hardware movement, where engineers openly collaborate, critique and refine their product designs for the greater good.

Imagine if we could do the same with knowledge...


Go to the profile of Richard Beer
almost 7 years ago
Knowledge? Isn't it primarily a record of human experience? Therefore by sharing our experiences we continuously 'manage' knowledge. RTB
Go to the profile of Charles Thiede
almost 4 years ago

@Jon you should write a followup article about "you can't manage content" and "you can't manage learning".