Understanding 'The New Knowledge Management' LO30353

From: Jan Lelie (janlelie@wxs.nl)
Date: 07/10/03

Replying to LO30342 --

Dear Mark, hello-list-eners,

My first idea about "the NKM" was: "these are the new clothes of the
emperor". Here in The Netherlands there was recently published a thesis
- that is being translated into English, i've heard - " On the
dekunstruction of KM". Were "kunst" in Dutch can be used as "const" or
"art". The de-artification of KM. As the article by Mark, his book
discusses knowledge in dept. It also gives insight on what can be known
and - what seems to be missing in the article - what the social
qualities of knowledge may be. Knowledge - in my view - is largely an
artefact of social interactions, knowledge is - or rather, are "enacted
truths". Knowledge consist of writing stories.

However, the thesis and the article scarcely address the emperor, the
eM-part of KM. The M in KM suggests how one "must" or should enact
Knowledge: knowledge should, must, can be managed. But management is
hardly defined, described or dekunstructed. In fact, in my view,
management seems a largely arteficial, constructed or social concept.
Managers try to hide behind a position within the management, a management
that - and here i agree with Mark - has the monopoly on justification.
Management not only holds the justification of knowledge, by the way.
They're also the judge of peoples behaviour, results and rewards. And - at
a certain level - their own judges.

Taking out the justification of knowledge by - not surprisingly - stating
that all people are fallible is a first step. The second step, that
people, including myself, are basically unreasonable, inconsistent,
dishonest and make up their own stories is never taken. People should be
made aware of their own justification processes, their generalizations and
their tendency to take things personally. I like to define management not
as a certain position or job, but as a way of enacting reality. Management
- in my definition, which i borrow from Loek Schonbeck, is much more
informal and consists of building a moral co-operation between people, of
building trust and faith between people, of continuously searching for the
best fit between (individual) technical ability, (corporational)
economical deployment and (general) well being, of supporting each other
in developing critical thought, balanced emotions and gaining prosperity
for all. This kind of management should be done in ways were no acts or
action is pre legitimized, prejudged (no kings prerogative) and were
nobody can be excommunicated for economical reasons only. We're all into
management. The sensible goal for management is progress itself.

This brought me the thought that management as we now know it might be a
manifestation of our own weaknesses. That might explain why the literature
on management weaknesses is very scarce. We're as yet unable to manage our
own life, let alone our family, our people, our nation or our world. We
all feel the pain and the agony of not being able to do better (let's
assume that we're still rather primitive animals, so it's only natural
that we couldn't and that we have to go to this phase of denial). In stead
of accepting this (and ending the period of denial) we project this on
others. The other should be managed, controlled, behave. Or it is
projected into the future: in the future, we'll be rewarded, we'll be
liberated, even from death. (hmmm, interesting thought: this is a reversal
of cause and effect). Some project their feeling of inadequacy on an
external force, some on an internal person or (sub)groups. Most make a
combination. We expect salvation, forgiveness, respect and rewards, but
not from the only person who can give these. Might it not be that poor
leadership (i prefer "Leadership Is An Art" by Max DuPree) has disguised
itself as "management"? And is or are these managers trying to manipulate
(another word for managing) us and themselves - because they are only the
strongest of the weak - into believing that this KM, this knowledge of
truth is what we should focus on? As long as we'll search for "the truth"
- sanctioned by our management - we're not having to face the true
question, the question that started all the soul searching: the knowledge
of good and bad.

So, Mark, to wrap it up, i think that the ultimate new knowledge - lets
call it "knewledge" ;-) - management is self-knewledge inclusive-or
self-management, aka wisdom.

Thanks for sharing your article,

kind regards,

Jan Lelie

Mark W. McElroy wrote:

>Having been asked so often to provide an explanation of what makes 'The
>New Knowledge Management' so new and different from existing or old
>conceptions of the subject, I finally sat down and wrote a paper that
>describes the idea in detail. For those of you interested in 'serious
>KM,' I am pleased to make this paper available to you on my website at the
>following URL:
>In a nutshell, 'The New KM' is the first and only school of KM predicated
>on fallibilism, or the view that humans are irreparably fallible with
>respect to their knowledge. This stands in stark contrast with all other
>prevailing forms of first- and second-generation KM, which are largely
>based on justificationism, or the view that knowledge can be known with
>certainty (e.g., the 'justified true belief' position). Having taken the
>opposite position, 'The New KM' has radically different and unique
>implications for practice when compared to what usually passes for KM
>strategies and implementations these days.


Drs J.C. Lelie (Jan, MSc MBA) facilitator mind@work

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