We Are Looking at Knowledge Management the Wrong Way

There is much in the industry press, scholarly literature, and books on Amazon.com about the perils of a retiring baby boomer generation taking their collective knowledge with them. For one thing, there are not enough of us Gen-X’ers or Millennials. And apparently younger generations cannot survive without this knowledge.

So professionals espouse the critical need to capture this departing knowledge before it vanishes forever.

I don’t think we are looking at this in the right way.

Why are we clamoring to capture yesterday’s knowledge. We should be steaming full-speed ahead with new ideas to compete in tomorrow’s world.

Ask yourself these questions. When was the last time you:
  • Wanted to know what a know-it-all knows?
  • Cared about how it “Used to be done”
  • Cared why it was "always done that way."
Didn’t Dee Hock say, “The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out?”

I think this panicked approach to capturing knowledge just adds more friction to getting old ideas out.

Of course, there are things we need to learn from experienced people. A ton!! But can’t we learn what’s valuable through ongoing and meaningful conversations about important issues in our companies? Isn’t an initiative to Capture Knowledge just a lot of overhead and extra work to capture things that are not valuable anyway?

Image Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1182569