Knowledge Management (KM) as a Game-Changer !

‘What you have learnt is a mere handful;
What you haven’t learnt is as big as the size of the world ! ”
– Avvaiyar (Tamil poet)

This is a post about how Knowledge Management (KM) precepts function as a bridge between innovation and learning. Connecting the dots between the three perceived to be separate compartments was a Eureka moment for me. In other words, this is a brief sharing on what I call “Learning from Shared Experience (LFSE)” which finds theoretical basis in KM thinking.

Being from the education sector myself, this interface with Knowledge Management over the years now feeds into an endless quest for newer, different and interactive modes of learning away from the classroom-centric existence. This search for interesting and novel approaches to learning began when I was teaching postgraduate students so as to enhance their concentration and deflect attention from the conveyor-belt lecture hall or end of year exam-centric modes of learning.

Centring Experience as a source of Knowledge: This moves educational processes away from preset rather very often static Tables of Curriculum (TOC) and makes learning an introspective and collaborative process. The sheer diversity, breath and even depth of experience sharing makes it almost impossible to straitjacket learning either in the form of TOC’s or talk-down lectures. As the historian Joan Scott notes meaningfully, “ …Identity is tied to notions of experience, and … both identity and experience are categories usually taken for granted in ways that ….they ought not to be.” The thinking behind education and training has hitherto underestimated the value of the experience of the learner in several behavioural and over a period of time even in academic-cum-business related domain and technology spaces.

For a social scientist learning and imparting learning through story-telling, narratives and centring experiences comes rather naturally. Still the ‘KM edge’ played its part in connecting the dots between the learner and LFSE in the following ways:

1. KM thinking distinguishes between Tacit and Explicit knowledge: Learning Techniques which LFSE aim to convert tacit knowledge in a learner to explicit knowledge providing therefore for greater self-realization and progression on the part of the learner and others learning with him/her;

2. Knowledge conversion that happens in several directions. One kind of vertical conversion if one could call it that occurs in the movement in the learner’s mind between data, information, knowledge and wisdom. Another set of knowledge
conversions take place in the LFSE process through socialization(tacit to tacit), externalization(tacit to explicit), combination(explicit to explicit) and internalization(explicit to tacit).

3. The KM cycle: Learning, Unlearning and Relearning: The cycle begins at one stage with sharing knowledge which could result in either acquiring existing or ‘old’ knowledge and in the process of sharing generate ‘new’ knowledge. What we see as ‘new’ knowledge is now put to use, then another experience gets generated which triggers another cycle with the first step being sharing as has been described above.

Avvaiyar’s quotation above was reported to have been displayed at the NASA. The solidarity that knowledge produces among global citizens is unmatched. Avvaiyar’s thought illuminates how humility and an open mind are significant in the learning experience. Only when we realize the scale of our own ignorance, we remain open to knowledge.

On a note of caution, the moment any of these aforesaid values such as humility, openness and awareness are given mere lip-service and not cherished in their authentic sense as life-enhancing forces, the learning / knowledge journeys become superficial and hence destined to fail as non-starters.

The salience of much of what has been written above comes from a lifetime of experience finding strong resonance in the KM corpus of thinking. KM fundamentals are also of great value in civil society and wherever knowledge forms and methods are involved in any sphere of learning.

The theme of this post has a nice resonance on this portal sastwingees for I first met the blog host Sukumar at a Knowledge Management conference in Chennai hosted by the Computer Society of India.

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  1. Quote
    Rajashree said April 2, 2012, 9:56 pm:

    This is a good read Abdul

    Certainly Learning from Shared experiences help to connect knowledge source and beneficiary in multiple levels – explicit to tacit, tacit to tacit and tacit to explicit and so on. You can infact write a series of posts explaining this with more anecdotes and shared experience!

  2. Quote
    Abdul Fakhri said August 8, 2012, 8:40 am:

    Thank you very much Rajashree Ma ‘am. Based on your advice here, I hope to write more on the various types of knowledge conversions.

  3. Quote
    Manikanda Pisharody (subscribed) said August 8, 2012, 10:32 am:

    Good view of KM connecting it with human and social characteristics, Abdul.. It also connects well, as to why KM is so strongly connnected with the cultural aspect..

    To paraphrase something that that i read recently, and it applies well for KM and any chng initiative for that matter –

    “For anything to be a game-changer in the eyes of the audience, it would happen at the cross-roads of what is desperately needed by the masses at this point of time, and what is immediately possible at this point of time”..

    Good read and thought-provoking, Abdul ..

  4. Quote
    Abdul Fakhri said August 9, 2012, 12:36 am:

    Thank you very much Mani.

    Your quotation on the game-changer is excellent.

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