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The New KM - What is it?
First, letís define Knowledge Management (KM). KM is first and foremost a branch of management, which makes it a social science. Moreover, it is a branch of management that seeks to improve performance in business by enhancing an organizationís capacity to learn, innovate, and solve problems. The purpose of KM, then, is to enhance organizational knowledge processing, and Knowledge Management as an inter-related set of activities may be defined as those activities whose purpose is to enhance knowledge processing.
Next, Knowledge Management is generally practiced in two forms: first-generation KM and second-generation KM. First-generation KM seeks only to enhance the integration of existing organizational knowledge through strategies such as knowledge capture and sharing. Second-generation KM strives to improve knowledge integration, too, but it also seeks to improve knowledge production. The New KM is a variant of second-generation Knowledge Management.
Variants of second-generation KM differ from one another in terms of how they address knowledge production from an epistemological point of view. Most variants of second-generation KM comprise so-called justificationist schemes, according to which (a) knowledge is seen as knowable with certainty, and (b) the certainty of such knowledge is established by political or authoritarian means. In contemporary organizations -- which are usually justificationist -- knowledge is most often declared by the authority of managers.
The New KM hails from a different tradition in epistemology that we call criticalist. The criticalist scheme denies the claim that knowledge is knowable with certainty and relies instead on a fallibilist perspective, largely influenced by the great twentieth-century philosopher, Karl R. Popper. Indeed, Poppers Critical Rationalism lies deep at the heart of the New KM, as does his notion of the different types of knowledge.
The practical implications of the New KM are far-reaching and profound. Out of the New KM school of KM theory and practice has come a new type of organization in which knowledge is continually being developed and is always open to criticism: The Open Enterprise. Creating and maintaining such environments, even as command and control styles of management continue to prevail, is the overriding vision of the New KM. The result? High-performance knowledge processing, sustainable innovation, and greater levels of corporate integrity and accountability.
The methodology required to practice the New KM, build Open Enterprises, and achieve sustainable innovation is called K-STREAM (KM Strategy and Methodology). K-STREAM is the unique creation of the New KM school of practice and is exclusively taught and licensed by KMCI. Learn more about K-STREAM and and how to get training in it elsewhere on this site.