3 ways to look at the KM Paradigm Shift

Here is another couple of ways to characterise the KM paradigm shift.

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When I looked at this topic in 2009, I saw the KM paradigm shift as a shift from seeing knowledge as personal and individual property, to seeing it as collective. I presented the shift as follows:

The “individual to collective” culture shift


From To
I know We know
Knowledge is mine Knowledge is ours
Knowledge is owned Knowledge is shared
Knowledge is personal property Knowledge is collective/community property
Knowledge is personal advantage Knowledge is company advantage
Knowledge is personal Knowledge is inter-personal
I defend what I know I am open to better knowledge
Not invented here (i.e. by me) Invented in my community
New knowledge competes with my personal knowledge New knowledge improves my personal knowledge
other people’s knowledge is a threat to me Shared knowledge helps me
Admitting I don’t know is weakness Admitting I don’t know is the first step to learning

Here is another way to look at this shift, taken from a paper on The Learning Organisation, by organisational Psychologist Gitte Haslebo, translated by Maja Loua Haslebo.

Shift to a learning organisation

From To
Knowledge has permanent validity Knowledge has temporary validity
Knowledge = Adding of information from the outside Knowledge = Insight created from within
Learning activates the intellect Learning activates thoughts, values, emotions and action
The right answers must be found The central questions must be formulated
The expert finds the right solution New ways and new methods are co-created by the employees

This mirrors the transition from Knower to Learner, and Gitte suggests it is accompanied by a shift in the attitudes of managers and knowledge workers to transition from the attitudes we learned at school to the new attitudes we need at work.

Shift in learning attitudes

From To
Do not make mistakes Learn from your mistakes
Do not reveal that there is something you do not know It is a good thing to admit that there is something you do not know
Do not make a fool of yourself It is important to explain what you wonder about.
Know that the teacher is always right Know that your manager may be wrong.
What counts is the individual achievement What matters is teamwork
If you ask the person sitting next to you, you are cheating When there is something you do not know, ask your colleague

So there are 3 ways to look at the shift, with significant overlap between them. They give you some ideas of the culture you need to aim for in KM – the sort of attitudes and behaviours that a learning organisation, and the people within it, should exhibit.

Now you just have to make that shift, and ensure you don’t shift back again.

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