The Use of Knowledge in Society

Colabria knowledge management Friedrich August Hayek is positively central to 21st Century knowledge management (KM). It is puzzling why the moldering KM Establishment and failed KM practitioners persists in rejecting the foundations and principles of KM.  

If KM could unpack their disastrous preoccupation with information technology and process engineering then enormous progress could be made in KM. Hayek’s epic essay, The Use of Knowledge in Society, should be carried in the pocket of every KM practitioner, new and experienced.

Read it. Now!

For KM, this Mid-Century essay is essential. Here is a particularly salient passage for KM,

“Today it is almost heresy to suggest that scientific knowledge is not the sum of all knowledge. But a little reflection will show that there is beyond question a body of very important but unorganized knowledge which cannot possibly be called scientific in the sense of knowledge of general rules: the knowledge of the particular circumstances of time and place. It is with respect to this that practically every individual has some advantage over all others because he possesses unique information of which beneficial use might be made, but of which use can be made only if the decisions depending on it are left to him or are made with his active coöperation. We need to remember only how much we have to learn in any occupation after we have completed our theoretical training, how big a part of our working life we spend learning particular jobs, and how valuable an asset in all walks of life is knowledge of people, of local conditions, and of special circumstances.”

Unfortunately, modern KM has failed completely leading knowledge creation. Rather, for the most part, KM tilts towards Soviet-style centralization, bureaucratic fetishism and information tyranny. Of course this is what Hayek feared the most.

Contrary to rigid, centralized information applications and process methods, the future (and past) of KM has always been about complexity science, social networks, authentic conversation, empathetic narrative and distributed phronesis. These are the foundations and frontiers of Authentic KM. Hayek’s legacy shaped the future of knowledge leadership.

KM Dilettante
The KM Fluffy Bunny

For KM practitioners and business leaders it is critical to reject fundamentally the failed and moribund KM Establishment. Deliberately reject there information-propelled fiascoes, Kumbayah discussion groups and their soaring farce of KM processes and measurements.

Self-absorbed KM buffoons and dilettantes have presided over decades of abject KM disasters, failure and waste. It is time to pivot away from all the KM blowhards.

For CKOs, CIOs,  HR executives and other enterprise officers, if vendors lead with information systems or technology for KM, promptly end the discussion and escort them back to reception.   

Rather, for KM, let’s embrace the principles of 20th Century knowledge giants like Hayek, Machlup, Engelbart, Drucker, Mises…   

To embrace and advance Authentic KM practitioners must pursue original thinking, network multiformity, exapatation, conceptual blending, abduction, situated cognition, disequilibrium, serendipity, lateral thinking and a wide-range of other crucial, nondeterministic behaviors. These are among the most simple, basic and required principles of 21st Century KM.

BTW, don’t be tempted by the siren-song of the over-moderated discussion groups and KM echo chambers. They are the refuge of KM cowards refusing to embrace 21st Century KM. These insidious and pervasive, self-appointed KM ‘authorities’ don’t have a clue. Worse they don’t learn. They will shoot the any messenger with 100% certainty if you don’t subscribe to their obsolete notions of KM.    

For  KM, it’s Back to the Future, Baby!

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