You can't manage knowledge

Could open source knowledge be a reality?

Like Comment

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...

Jon Beer

CTO & Co-founder, Zapnito

A technical leader and hands-on CTO with 19 years' experience implementing web technologies. I lead the technical delivery of the Zapnito platform, ensuring a scalable multi-tenant architecture, disruption-free daily release cycles and a highly effective development team that delivers platform enhancements for our customers. Get in touch with me to discuss your requirements for this or any Zapnito network or to share your feedback at any time.


Go to the profile of Richard Beer
Richard Beer almost 6 years ago

Knowledge? Isn't it primarily a record of human experience? Therefore by sharing our experiences we continuously 'manage' knowledge.


Go to the profile of Charles Thiede
Charles Thiede almost 3 years ago

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