From time to time in knowledge management circles the cry of standardisation is raised. It's just happened again with a new KM Linked In Group with the banner ...accreditation association delegated to make decisions by the global KM community. A brief investigation indicates its a variant on three men and a dog, or in this case two men seeking jobs, a woman and a cat. When challenged on the pretentiousness of the title they say its just aspirational. Since inviting people in, they have managed to alienate the three people with experience who provided advice (yes I was one, and I tried and it was and is trying) by not bothering to listen and responding with platitudes or insults. The initiative is not going to get to its desired goal as the idea is flawed and currently there is no gravitas or wisdom being shown by its visible leadership, but more on that tomorrow. For the moment the issue raised is more important.
That issue is one of quality assurance and professionalism in an emergent discipline. It applies these days as much, if not more so to Agile than it does to knowledge management. Agile is at the start of its journey and is attracting bright, innovative minds in large numbers. KM, well lets say that it used to do that and still does, but not with enough critical mass. Most KM conferences these days are littered (I use the word wisely) with the Sharepoint word as KM had become tool focused and tool determined as a discipline over the last two decades.
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
Agile people should however really pay attention here. It would be terrible if they took the same journey as the KM guys. The trouble is that particular path is the broad path of Matthew 7:14 (see above in the King James edition and Isaiah 35:8 ain't bad either) that leads to perdition, but its the easy path and you can already see early signs of footprints rambling off without purpose. The narrow path is more difficult at the start, but then becomes easier and my purpose in these two posts is to outline some of the key elements needed. I hope this will also be under discussion at CalmBeta in Boulder Colorado in a few weeks time. Its on my agenda if I can get people interested.
The problem is that people confuse three things, and also focus on bureaucratic rather than emergent approaches. So lets run through the three:
The secret I think lies in that mouse which opens this post. Its from the craftsman Robert Thompson who100 years ago turned his back on machines and rediscovered the mediaeval craft skills in his oak furniture. The Catholic Chaplancy at Lancaster was furnished with this, and it must be worth a fortune now. Every item made has the makers mark of this small mouse somewhere on it.
So is the craft hall the model of a new profession? My long standing principle of problem resolution is to find something that works in history, discover why it works in terms of science, then seek to scale that understanding into a different context.
In my next post tomorrow I want to pick up on this and propose a new way forward for emergent communities like Agile as is, and KM as was. I'll also deal with the pretentious ones at the same time. But if you want a flavour of the reaction they are getting, read this by fellow Welshman David Griffiths. He tried to help as well and was rewarded by insults.