February 11, 2009

Quick & Dirty: Dirty Thoughts On The KM Track at the DoN IM/IT Conference

So, yesterday I attended what has really amounted to my first conference on KM at the Department of the Navy (DoN) 2009 IM/IT Conference Conference at the San Diego Convention Center

In my six, seven years doing KM work all of the conferences I've wanted to attend have either been fiscally or geographically out of range so I was excited to have the opportunity to sit in a room with my peers and others excited about KM to discuss the work we're doing. Unfortunately, I needed more than my excitement about being there to keep my eyes open.

Thankfully, I had my Blackberry and my similarly bored co-workers to keep me engaged.

My biggest comment on the whole experience is that I would think that experienced knowledge managers should know that people are less likely to share when they are bored out of their gourds. I expected more engagement and interactivity. Pehaps that's because I've studied Adult Education and the different forms of facilitation/presentation. After we left the track to get our drink on, I was telling my boss about the book Women's Ways of Knowing (Belenky et al) and it's influence on how I try to respect and respond to different ways that people acknowledge, develop, share, and valuate knowledge and the irony of KM's precarious place in the business world and its struggles to become "mainstream" rather than embracing its "outsider" status. That's how I felt during this conference track - that these folks were probably doing some fantastic out of the box work in their organizations but couldn't present their work with the same creativity.

Or cookies. You can never go wrong by giving out cookies.

That being said, I was super impressed with the presentation from KM Officer Nancy Jenkins. After years of doing KM work with a strongly visionary outlook, her more effective pragmatic approach to KM hinted at bitterness and disillusionment but I've been there so I'm not gonna hate. The bottom line is that she's in the right mindspace to drive KM through to fruition and those are the kind of people who help us to look good.

Anywho, other thoughts from the track...
  • The Marine Corps is not allowed to use the term KM, rather they have to use the term IM? WTF?!?!? Somebody should call the National Association for the Advancement of Knowledge Management (NAAKM)
  • Nancy Jenkins' Pragmatic KM: When your KM bubbles get burst so often that you start carrying mace
  • Is the distinction between KM and IM really that deep? I mean, shouldn't we figure out how to care for the first child before we have a second baby? That's all I'm sayin'.
  • Another Nancy Jenkins nugget: The Art of Collaboration...because collaboration isn't just a series of briefs, its a dialogue, a conversation.
  • Cool quote from Dr. Ramon Flores: "Don't give me the data, give me the knowledge!"
  • Personal note (on an audience members request for metrics): Developing metrics requires understanding the desired end-result so it says something (bad) that people who don't uderstand KM are always seeking out metrics.

At the end of the day, I walked out with a couple of questions inspired by my friend, Lil Magic (yes, I have a friend nicknamed Lil Magic). When Lil Magic gets his drink on, he's known to ask these questions (slurred, loudly, and often): "Where are we going?", "Why are we going this way?", and "Why is this taking so long?!?!"

Sometimes I wonder the same things Lil Magic, sometimes I wonder the same things.