Nancy Dixon Explains 3rd Era Knowledge Management


Knowledge management (KM) is all about the people, right. Actually, its a little more complicated than that.

Last year, Nancy Dixon presented what I think is one of the best overviews of the state of knowledge management today, where she explains the 3 eras of knowledge management:

She describes the 3rd era of knowledge management as being focused on using collective knowledge to:

The enablers and processes for 3rd era knowledge management involve cognitive diversity, transparency, convening, joint sensemaking and crowdsourcing. The overall theme is one of organisational learning, in comparison to past themes in 1st and 2nd era knowledge management about employee productivity and capability.

This doesn't mean that the issues addressed by 1st and 2nd generational knowledge management aren't important or worth addressing, but as I've written (PDF) I think we did processes like information management a disservice by labelling them incorrectly as KM.

As well as being an enabler for 3rd generation knowledge management (what Dixon calls 'idea management'), social software can also improve both information management and experience management. However, while KM is not dependent on social software or any kind of technology, I do believe that KM at scale is hard to achieve without it.

And yes, it goes without saying that I don't think KM is dead.