Corporate Epistemology and 'The New KM' LO29744

From: Chris Macrae (
Date: 12/30/02

Replying to LO29722 --

Dear Mark and all LOs

Thanks for your wonderful detailed reply. I wanted to have another
iteration. This may be very selfish thinking aloud but I guess I am
groping through some patterns of understanding that seem of huge value to
me and wondered whether anyone here has already been through the same
route, or one that added an extra branch!

It seems to me that the 3 greatest organizational ideologies to design and
value corporate futures around can be identified as
 1) Drucker's Knowledge Worker & Necessary Revolution in Organizational
   -- add --
 2) Systems (LO) understandings
   -- add --
 3) KM understandings especially those that the emerging infrastructures
of a digitally connected networking world can bring

To navigate through these worlds of learning experiences, it may help to
raise the question what was the revolutionary leap forward from each
1,2,3. I'd like to hear other people's answers too and mine draft answers
may change too especially as I have tried to abbreviate them

 1) The economics and productivity of the corporation will be
revolutionized by permitting most workers to employ their greatest
strengths ( as well as develop them within the organisation's value
patterns) . It is worth noting that Drucker was always clear that this
would require huge unmanaging and unmeasuring as well as new designed in
organsiational intelligence for governing horizontally instead of just

 2) People need to share something that I still call a map which goes way
beyond what numbers can score or words can be communally interpreted to
mean. The ways I'm talking about include:
 -connectivities and feedback loops
 -dynamics which compound from what's be done within the system
 -openness and co-responsibility wherever someone's knowledge impacts how
the system as a whole interacts
 -constant communal attention to higher level resolutions of what emerge
as potential conflicts or paradoxes
 -the ability of everyone to have access in the mind to a sort of
engineer's blueprint of not just today's system pattern in use, but where
and why it emerged from and what change challenges come up next, knowing
all the while that changing part of the system map may lead to knock on
effects all across the map
 -some idea that a system has its current boundaries but needs to openly
interface beyond these boundaries either of partnering organisations or
because the organisation needs to respond to other living system
especially if its is to progress its vision
 -the whole permits the organisation's unique valuation patterning,
including economics and human responsibilities to be seen in a way which
is at least as similar and robust in interpretation by every knowledge
worker as say the way we interpret a spreadsheet of numbers

We may not agree about this list of elements. But I am suggesting that
system's theory adds something beyond Drucker and different or original
before what KM brings. When I call this a map I mean a visualisation
structure that cannot possibly be summarised by just numbers accounting or
plans full of words. Unless an organization can show me that everyone has
access to a visual blueprint and can iterate through it to detailed levels
of what they contribute and connect to other people through, then in my
view the company's learning organisation is at best very immature (or
completely tacit which may be OK for a SME but is
useless/unreliable/unsystematic for anything larger)

So what does KM add? For me its the new networking infrastructures,
enabling us to be sure that productive organizations of the future will
mainly need to let knowledge workers manage their own networks

To use and adapt my greatest strengths to the organization's system of
value patterns I need design structure of an order undreamt of before
digital/network connectivity. For example I need myself and all co-workers
to be open at networking but smart with time use. What pop-up information
should I get on someone before taking up their time and indeed for an
agent to search for me what extra people connections I should be
networking into. Presumably I should see current (as well as history) of
what project teams that person is in, what practice communities, what
processes, what system excellence connections the person makes as well as
traditional responsibilities to eg departments and business units. If all
of this has an intelligent design structure, I could search people layers
or organisational layers (eg what is the full list of currently active
CoPs) knowing that I was doing so as systematically/communally as my
co-workers. It seems to me that network architecture adds another
dimension to the features and components I should be wanting to search
through in having a good system's blueprint. Equally, the greatest role of
leadership becomes more and more about knowing the network system
architecture so well that both macro leadership decisions (what's the next
system investment or M&A or whatever) and micro ones (is this person I am
talking to using every personal strength and interpersonal arena and net
to fully realise personal and organizational value?) revolve round the
same intelligence. Back at the level of 2 knowledge networkers newly
seeking to connect; both should triage each other - the consequence should
be either a networeking connection or a well informed guidance to who or
where would be a better (more time productive conection) than the
initiator seeking the link had previously been able to visualise.

Mark - I've probably drifted off a simple pathway here (really need a
picture not words!). But is it clear enough to be able to decide whether
what I see as the extra leap forward that KnowledgeM brings is similar to
the one your book blueprints? What's the biggest scope of new KM that I'm
in danger of overlooking?

chris macrae London 0208 540 5304
Transparency Mapping at
EU KM & Emotional Intelligence at

----- Original Message -----
>From: "Mark W. McElroy" <>
> Dear Chris:
> Thank you for your comments. Let me try to answer your questions.


"Chris Macrae" <>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>

"Learning-org" and the format of our message identifiers (LO1234, etc.) are trademarks of Richard Karash.