Visionary Knowledge Management: Trends and Strategies

    12. Dezember 2011 von Ingo Frost, Kathrin Frank

    The authors of this article address the question of how organizations will deal with knowledge in 2020. For this purpose, they first analyzed national and international knowledge management conferences, publications and Internet publications to locate knowledge management visionaries. Four visionaries are mentioned, due to their keynotes and their publications on knowledge management trends: David Griffiths, Dave Snowden, David Gurteen and Norbert Gronau. They are presented here along with their theories and visions for dealing with knowledge. Following the presentation, these theories are compared and discussed

    Selection Process

    How to find the interesting theories about how knowledge management could evolve? One way to come closer to this question is to examine knowledge management conferences and find out who has held the keynotes to knowledge management developments. The keynotes from national and international significant knowledge management conferences from years 2010 and 2011 were considered. Out of 105 keynotes 10 authors have explicitly addressed knowledge management trends. The work of these authors was examined in the second step, further scientific publications on the subject and online interactions (e.g. activity on blogs, newsletters, etc.). The four above-mentioned persons were stood out in the research, especially due to new perspectives on knowledge management and the support of others in their daily process of implementing knowledge management in practice.

    David Griffiths

    David Griffiths teaches at the University of Edinburgh in the field of learning and knowledge management. He is the founder of the consulting K3Cubed Ltd. Griffiths is specialized in supporting organizations in dealing with knowledge and learning. In teaching, he also deals with related issues concerning organizations, financial and production management.

    Visions – theses about knowledge management trends:

    • According to an international study, knowledge management is still primarily understood and technologically centered and more operationally, and it doesn’t have the people in center yet. This is the reason that there is a high level of dissatisfaction with knowledge management investments.
    • Those who want to support organizations in dealing with knowledge should give up the technically inclined term knowledge management and recognize organizations for other than technical challenges of knowledge management.
    • Knowledge management should be seen as a strategic issue and support organizations in their current challenges, such as innovation, resilience, sustainability and growth (or even “healthy shrinking”).
    • Knowledge management should be the heart of building the capacity for change. This can be stimulated by thinking forward-driving techniques such as scenario analysis.
    • Knowledge management can drive needed impending paradigm shift in organizations.
    • The role of knowledge in organizations is rising steadily since the 1930s (the importance of intangible resources in organizations has grown from 30-40% to 90% with IT companies such as Google). Taking into account the long-term trends knowledge management can be defined as long-term task [1].

    Dave Snowden

    David Snowden is an expert on implicit knowledge and works as a lecturer, consultant and scientist. He is a visiting lecturer at the University of Pretoria, University of Canberra, University of Surrey and at the Polytechnic University of Hong Kong. In addition, Snowden is the founder and scientific director of the Cognitive Edge Consulting Organization, which pursues an open-source approach to counselling - materials and methods are freely accessible via the website. He has developed the Cynefin framework, which transmits the practical application of complexity theory to the topic of leadership in organizations.

    As part of the Cynefin framework, problems are classified according to their nature and suggested an appropriate use of them:

    • Simple problems based on clear cause-effect relationship: If a given initial situation is observed, an appropriate response can take place on the basis of experience (“Best Practices”).
    • Complicated problems must be analyzed more intensively before they can be responded to. There are often several ways to respond, which are similarly good (“Good Practices”).
    • Complex problems are characterized by the fact that due to an initial situation, the effect of certain actions can not be predicted. Hence is an experimental approach to action (“try out, perceive, react”) proposed (“Emergent Practices”).
    • Chaotic problems are such that no cause-effect relationships can be established. Thus, the recommended action is to act, perceive, react with the aim to stabilize the system. This experience creates the sense of “practice novel”.

    Visions – theses about knowledge management trends:

    • In the context of organizations, there should be a distinction between robust and stable strategies: robust design (fail-safe = drop resistant) should become a stable and thus crisis-resistant design (safe-fail experimentation = secure fall excersice).
    • The management of knowledge is always voluntary and may never be forced.
    • We know only what we need to know. We react to perceived patterns (pattern-based intelligences), we are not information processors.
    • If there is a real need for knowledge, very few people will refuse to share their knowledge.
    • Tolerated failure shapes the learning process better than success: Organizations should accept failure in a particular context.
    • Talking about our knowledge is something other than our own knowledge
    • We know more than we can put into words and we can tell more than we can write down.
    • Everything is fragmented. Chaotic people seek connection (messy coherence) and just not too much structure, since it is quickly outdated and costly to maintain. Thus, the approach Semantic Web – that is a clear, structured description of importance of Internet content – limited. [2]

    David Gurteen

    David Gurteen has long been the software development manager and was responsible to ensure a uniform design of the Lotus products globally.
    Today he is an independent knowledge management consultant, speaker and moderator. He is in various fields of knowledge management present and organized regularly Knowledge cafes. He publishes on his blog (The Gurteen Knowledge Weblog) and on his website (The Gurteen Knowledge website), his newsletter (The Gurteen Knowledge Letter) reaches about 15,000 people.

    Visions – theses about knowledge management trends:

    • The sharing of knowledge and social learning – now perceived as extra work – is a welcome and normal part of everyday work. Ponder the future workforce is no longer alone in my room, thinking aloud and jointly with others.
    • Also work no longer takes place behind closed doors, but transparent and visible to everyone.
    • Instead of forcing the employees IT tools, they should select themselves the tools that would be most useful. Likewise, one will select the information that one needs, instead of allowing oneself to heap indiscriminately with everything.
    • Instead of controlling the people with fear of making mistakes, they should get more creative freedom, and must bear more responsibility in return.
    • Information is no longer concentrated and “protected”, but is open and accessible. The information flow is less regulated.
    • The importance of context is more pronounced in the foreground. Rather than in isolation as information to examine the context, the flow circumstances / conditions more into consideration.
    • The world is perceived as complex and varied. The simple cause-effect model has become obsolete and will have to give other approaches. [3]
    • In today’s wealth, (publicly available) information grows faster. It takes some time but mostly to understand the often complex and sometimes chaotic situations. It often help to talk to others in order to make the factual knowledge to something useful – a methodological approach to this is the Knowledge Cafe. [4]

    Norbert Gronau

    Norbert Gronau studied mechanical engineering and business administration at the Technical University of Berlin. He completed a doctorate on the “concept of a strategy-oriented management information system for decision support in production management” and habilitated with the theme “Sustainable industrial information systems architectures for organizational change.” He holds the chair of computer science and Electronic Government at the University of Potsdam. His research interests lie in the areas of operational knowledge management and versatile ERP systems. He is also scientific director of the Potsdam institute settled Center for Enterprise Research (CER).

    Visions – theses about knowledge management trends:

    • Currently, no organizational assignment of responsibilities typical of knowledge management in the organizational structure of enterprises is evident.
    • Competence and experience of people can not be replaced by the use of computerized systems. Those systems can not provide the necessary creativity and intuition.
    • In the area of inter-organizational issues of information security and protection against theft of intellectual property rights as major drivers of change have been felt. The assurance of intellectual capital is the task of knowledge management.
    • With the increasing popularity of social media in their private lives and in the company’s internal and external use, there will be more experiments with Web 2.0 technologies and approaches, and remove the uncertainty about social media use in organizations.
    • The bandwidth of the demand for knowledge management is significantly larger. It becomes more and more clear to companies and public institutions that the knowledge of their employees is a central element for competitive differentiation and represents the key to successful change is.
    • For the exchange of knowledge between institutions-personal knowledge, there is support suitable conversation and transformation in organizational forms and spaces and times must be supported.
    • Conversion pressure and demand of the employees generate new demands on IT.  If the IT is insufficient, competition threatens to fail by the knowledge holders. [5]

    David Griffiths shows that knowledge management is less important for managers – but is also perceived to be more technically oriented. Knowledge in organizations takes on an increasingly larger role, becoming a strategic issue.
    Dave Snowden brings a different perspective: Best Practices – a standard method for experiential knowledge – only works for simple problems. Complex or chaotic situations require a different approach: first try, then act, and react at the end. He points out that existing structures do not help to address problems and that a climate, in which failure is allowed, must be created.
    David Gurteen states that complex or even chaotic situations are most likely to be solved through personal interviews: therefore the accordant opportunities must be created.
    Norbert Gronau finds that the range of knowledge management is much larger: in addition to social media, intellectual capital, and the pressure for change, the IT context plays an important new role.
    David Griffiths also emphasizes the role of knowledge in connection with the conversion ability. From the perspective of an organization to its environment changes rapidly and unpredictably – among others due to various crises at the national and international level. Therefore, versatility assumes an important role. Knowledge in turn is the basis for organizations to change, because change can be better estimated with the common knowledge of all employees. Only if their knowledge and creativity is used, new approaches can be developed – and thus sustainable innovations.


    [1] David Griffiths: The future of KM (7 / 2011) –

    [2] Dave Snowden: Judgement & resilience, KM Asia November 2010 Keynote –

    [3] David Gurteen: World 2.0, in: Gurteen Knowledge: 10 Years in KM, 2010

    [4] Elizabeth Wagner: The Gurteen Knowledge café for David. In: Project Magazine, Issue 21/2011

    [5] Norbert Gronau: Challenges and trends in knowledge management (KnowTech 2011 – Keynote, Bad Homburg)


    [Standard] Namensnennung 3.0 Deutschland - Weitergabe unter gleichen Bedingungen 3.0 Deutschland
    Lizenziert unter einer Creative-Commmons Lizenz


Das Kommentarsystem ist zurzeit deaktiviert.


Dieser Beitrag ist den folgenden Themengruppen zugeordnet


Dieser Beitrag ist den folgenden Schlagworten zugeordnet