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Foreword by Dave Snowden to Knowledge Management Infinitives in Singore

Foreword by Dave Snowden to Knowledge Management Infinitives in Singore

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Published by David Gurteen
Foreword by Dave Snowden to Knowledge Management Infinitives in Singore
Foreword by Dave Snowden to Knowledge Management Infinitives in Singore

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Published by: David Gurteen on Jun 12, 2013
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10/14/2013

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Foreword
This is a timely book in that it situates a range of pragmatic projectswithinawiderconceptualandhistoricalsetting.Thecompetitivevalueofknowledgeatacountrylevelopensthebook,contrastingKoreawithGhana, both of which started with similar GDPs but then divergedsignificantly.Singaporecanclaimasimilarsuccess;chartingtheknowl-edgemanagementpracticeofitsvariousministriesandagenciesisthusofsignificantvaluetoanyoneconcernedaboutthedevelopmentofgov-ernment in times of increasing resource scarcity. Of course, we need tounderstand the context in which this takes place.Singapore is arguably a modern
Polis — 
the re-incarnation of theGreek city state in a modern age. Its two major universities are con-stantly in the world’s top 100 rankings and its economic success comesfrom a unique blending of state and private enterprises. Its variousgovernment organisations were among the early adopters of knowl-edgemanagementpracticesthebestpartoftwodecadesago,butithasalso sustained these practices over time. In particular, the SingaporeArmed Forces have, to quote the citation for the Platinum award fromthe Information & Knowledge Management Society, seen “sustainedand pervasive impact of its KM initiatives”. This is in part due to bothcontinuity and change; some personnel have directed and guided theinitiativethroughoutthatperiodwhileencouragingandenablingwiderparticipation. They have focused on both operational needs and backofficefunctions.Asaresult,theyarestillperceivedasstrategicwhileinothercountries,knowledgemanagementhasbeenprogressivelyshiftedaway from the centre to a peripheral aspect of IT. This is also true of the 11 other governmental organisations detailed in this book — each brings a distinct perspective reflecting their organisational context.This is a unique book, in that it does not seek to generalise partiallyunderstood practice into naive simplified recipes, something all toocommonintheliterature.Theintroductionprovidesanoverviewofthe
v
 
viKnowledge Management Initiatives in Singapore
historyofknowledgemanagementwhichrecognisesthatthedisciplineexisted before it was known by that name. Its claim that knowledgemanagementisatthecoreofmanagementmovementstodayiscontro-versial, although the suggested application to innovation is surely not,neither is the value of knowledge or the cost of ignoring it.Knowledge management is that rare beast in management science,a movement with many origins which may explain its resilience. Itsorigins are frequently attributed to Nonaka’s 1991 HBR article “TheKnowledge Creating Company

,
but in the same period we see theIntellectual Capital movement with Leif Edvinsson and Tom StewartfromBuckmanLabspioneeringworkondistributedcomputing,aswellasdevelopmentsofinformationtheorybyPrusak,Davenportandmanyothers.Inthemodernera,PeterDruckercoinedthephrase“TheKnowl-edgeWorkerin1959,butthemajorgrowthofknowledgemanagementas a distinct function within companies coincided with the advent of scalable technology, the shift from mainframe to micro-computer andthe rapid development of collaboration software and email (especiallyLotus Notes), but more recently various products from Microsoft suchas the ubiquitous SharePoint, a plethora of search engines, communitysoftware and the like.The focus on technology was the making of knowledge manage-ment, but may also be its nemesis. Focusing on knowledge as infor-mation contrasts with older models of knowledge development suchas the apprentice model in which knowledge is transferred by experi-ments, tolerated failure and teaching. Taught by Journeymen, appren-ticesobservethemaster,andsharestorieswitheachother.Astheygainknowledge,theyarecalledtowalkthetablesofthecrafthalltoassumethe status of Journeyman, after which their masterworks are accepted by their peers. The body of knowledge develops; it is not simply codi-fiedandtransferred.Narrativeisacriticalaspectofthatprocess,asitisin any professional community. Engineers tell stories around the watercooler and the knowledge transfer thus engendered is as important asany drawing or document.To date technology has not been able to replicate that model, andthe focus on codification and machine-based search is limited com-pared to the power and capability of a human network. This may now bechangingwiththerapidgrowthanduseofsocialcomputing.Thisisofitsnaturemessy,justasallhumanexchangeismessy,yetcoherent.Atweet or a blog linked to a book is a better reference than a search as itincludesthevalidationofahumanyou’vechosentofollow.Humansin

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