Waiting for KM Standards

Waiting for Godot

Vladimir and Estragon
Waiting for KM Standards

The KM Standards Farce is fast approaching the absurdity of Beckett’s masterpiece. 

Standards kill KM because KM positively DEPENDS on variation. Diversity and variation are the absolute lifeblood of KM. 

Authentic KM thrives on originality, network multiformity, conceptual blending, abduction, situated cognition, disequilibrium, serendipity, conversation, lateral thinking and a wide-range of other crucial nondeterministic behaviors and knowledge-based activities.

Remember, the important purpose and key value of industrial, procedural, technical and IT ‘Standards’ is to drive OUT variation. The purpose of standards to achieve uniformity, predictability, expected results and ‘standard’ experiences. Standards for quality, IT, manufacturing and otherwise, are developed specifically to achieve repeatable and deterministic outcomes. That’s the precise opposite of Authentic KM!  

2-15-2014 12-08-44 PM

Lavender Mist
Jackson Pollock
Number 1, 1950

For example, what if artists had ‘standards?’ Safe to assume there would be no Jackson Pollock. A spare $162.7M will get you one of his oeuvres.

Pollock created the second most expensive painting ever sold. It was done without standards. Gasp! BTW, if JP painted your house with house painter standards it would probably look like every other house on the block.

Meanwhile, the KM Standards people, in their ISO Documentation, have identified and recommended the following “Knowledge Management Systems” (KMS) technical experts as active, recommended and supporting the KM Standards effort:

  • Patrick Lambe (Singapore)
  • Steve Oest (Australia)
  • Arthur Shelly (Australia)
  • Hubert Saint-Onge (Canada)
  • Boris Jaegar (Germany)
  • Nick Milton (UK)
  • David Snowden (UK)
  • Jay Liebowitz (USA)
  • David Gurteen (UK)

It probably makes sense to double-check with these KMS technical experts to confirm their active support for KM Standards for Knowledge Management Systems Requirements.

While they are checking, the need to correct their error on Page Two of their 60-Page ISO Proposal:

Colabria KM

Odd the KM Standards people and their KMS technical experts don’t know about United States Patent Number: US 7,127,440. It covers Knowledge Management System and Method. It was granted on 24 October 2006.

Suppose it was too much trouble for the KM Standards people to do a Google search on ‘Knowledge Management System’

Hope the KM Standards people and vendors have their checkbooks out to pay patent attorneys and cash royalties for Knowledge Management System and Method.

Steve Denning Of course, like ‘Godot,’ KM Standards are absurd. They arise from the dead every few years because people are struggling to respond to a radically changing world. Please see this outstanding article, Why Most Of What We Know About Management Is Plain, Flat, Dead Wrong, by Colabria affiliate and Colabria Cluster keynote speaker, Steve Denning.


In summary, and to paraphrase Steve’s excellent article title, All Of What We Know About Knowledge Management Is Plain, Flat, Dead Wrong, must be the KM Mantra going forward.

This concept, unlearning, is very difficult (maybe impossible) for MBAs, baby-boomers, engineering geezers and IT-fueled process wonks to understand. Thing is, unlearning is difficult and painful… it’s also a central, canonical tenet of KM. (Unlearning is absent from the pernicious KM Standard, of course.)

‘KM Standards’ is an oxymoron, patently contradictory and just plain ridiculous. KM Standards paralyze KM, prosperous knowledge creation and the future. In short, Waiting for KM Standards is a farce… by definition.

Colabria Action Research

Colabria EET

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