The Dynamics of Strategic KM - Dave Snowden

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007
20071106_KMWORLD2007_DaveSnowden.JPGDave Snowden, Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd is talking about sense-making in a world of many voices.

Not impressed with idea of a group of leaders locking themselves away to come up with a KM strategy for their organization. He's yet to find a situation in which this has worked, yet organizations continue this practice.

Knowledge is context dependent.

Dave shared a story, which I will not repeat it, but a good one to exemplify how knowledge is context dependent.

Where is KM?

Stronger in government, weaker elsewhere but the purpose remains the same (whatever the label).

KM Is about
  • Improving the way people make decisions
  • Creating conditions for information

You don't manage knowledge

Snowden talks about "A science based revolution" in sense-making.
  • Complex adaptive systems
        from fail-safe design to safe-fail experimentation
Using network-based cognition: example of banks and disease management.
  • Cognitive sciences
Snowden states that humans evolved as pattern recognition & blending intelligence, they are not information processors & critically there are limits to semantic analysis.
There is a logical limit to semantic search - we need to understand these limits.
  • Evolutionary psychology/anthropology (not the evangelical kind)
Taking a look at the role of ritual, natural numbers & the role of narrative including the fragmented nature of human knowledge.
     People, given a choice, prefer to draw upon fragmented human knowledge rather than analytical systems designed to do the same.

RAHS Software
(Resource and Horizon Scanning for anti-terrorism application - developed for Singapore government.)
  • Narrative based fragmented database (trillions of items of fragmented intelligence) handled by semi-structured tagging.
  • Collective expert knowledge captured in fragmented form within models - capture knowledge in the form that people expect to use it.
  • Collective Intelligence, bringing diversity into plan in decision making (not a prediction market)
The ability for a CEO to involve all employees in decision making without telling them what they are doing.
  • Sensing paters in the meta data first.
Cross-silo knowledge sharing
  • Shift from the pattern of entrainment of scenario planning to real time scenario assembly.
Scenarios assembled in real-time based on incoming data.
Showed example of sense-scape modelling in real-time. As powerful way to view knowledge real-time .

Where Snowden thinks KM is going, if you agree with his science-based approach to KM.
  • Cultural mapping and audit based on mass narrative capture in mergers and acquisitions
  • Impact measurement and living oral history in Liverpool museums & Singapore Min. Education.
Gave example: of museum director asking students who came to the museum to do the following exercise upon departure.
1) Your best friend is thinking about visiting the museum, what would you tell him about your experience to convince him to go?
2) Your parents want to take you to the museum - what would you tell them about your last visit to convince them not to take you?
These stories are gathered and mapped in real-time as a way to improve the experience.
  • Issues in child care in aboriginal communities
  • Ethical auditing and determination of risk premium for professional indemnity insurance
  • Habit not rule compliance in health and safety - example of heated lorry belts 1/2 fewer accidents.
  • Battlefield KM: "Paton's brain"
  • Integration of social computing (see Thursday session)

Lessons learned vs lessons learning

KM lessons from the Bible
Luke: 6:38
Knowledge is about sharing

Luke 5:37
No one puts new wine into old wineskins... Likewise, new knowledge ...

OK, that was a stretch, but I see his point.

Q&A Session
Power in story telling in that the stories are indexed by the people who tell them.

Sense-making need lots of narratives 300-400 minimum, ideally, thousands.

1. Put in a CMS and ban all email attachments
2. Teach people narratives and how to link to content

Get people involved in sense-making - don't delegate to machines.
Significant discovery on narrative:
- when asking people to give the story a name, the name is often more meaningful than the story
- Instead of asking people to give keywords to link to story, ask what words they would associate with the story - many are not found in traditional metadata

20071106_KMWORLD2007DaveSnowdenAndEricMack.JPGI enjoyed meeting Dave in person and we had a few interesting discussions at the conference.

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