Tuesday, July 15, 2008

KM and the World's Problems

"Knowledge Management will not solve the problem of world hunger!"....like some folks fed up of being chased by overenthusiastic KMers, might say. ;-) But you know what? I would like to dare to suggest that KM may not definitely solve the problem of world hunger....but it may very well have been the very lack of KM mechanisms and environment that lead to world hunger! Doing something does not make the world more exciting than it is....but not doing it can leave the world a more difficult place than it would otherwise be. Makes sense or what? No? Let me tell you a story that made me think on these lines....

A few days ago, I was a passive participant in a group conversation that covered a plethora of topics which were not of great interest to me. Suddenly, a scientist (who was naturally inclined towards research) in the group mentioned something that caught my attention. He said he had spent a lot of time digging into the concept of horoscopes and had come to the conclusion that the (Indian) practice of seeking an alignment in the horoscopes of potential grooms and brides was dicey and unreliable. He went on to explain that the concept of horoscopes per se was convincing and he was quite inclined to believe that the relative movement of planets as well as the positions of planets at the time at which a person was born (Indian style of drawing a person's horoscope) seemed to have a mysterious say in the human's personality and destiny. So, where did he have a problem? He then said he explored the method/approach of comparing two horoscopes to find out whether there was an alignment or not and that was when he discovered that there were three key methods. Now, that's not what is meant to open your eyes. It may be obvious to you. What he said after that is what you might find thought-provoking. He said the results obtained on using the three methods are never the same. He said the outcome of following these approaches turned out to be different...and sometimes the opposite of each other! So, how do you know which one to believe? How do you know which one is 'right'? He went on for a while and strongly recommended listeners to take his finding into consideration and not believe the practice blindly because you simply don't know what's the right method. Sensible, I thought. Unless, as a layman, you somehow have the unbiased wherewithal to dig really hard and acquire the knowledge to find out what's the 'right' method...the so-called truth.

The conversation ended there, but it had me thinking for a while. Why was there more than one version of the "truth"? Why was there so much confusion? What is 'true' knowledge and how do you recognize it? Which of these three approaches would one decide on using and how? What was the origin/cause for such a situation?

I did not get all the answers but some of the things that occurred to me was that....
a) There was perhaps no centralized ownership, body, system, and mechanism to harness and manage this knowledge and that must have chiefly led to the existence of multiple and opposite approaches...causing the confusion that exists today. Knowledge creation? Yes. Management? No.

b) There was perhaps not enough and effective collective thinking and collaboration on merging the latter approaches and findings with the first-constructed method (Of course, let's not forget that ego and politics play a major role in such things. Sometimes it is really about lack of unbiased leadership and lack of a desire to get to the truth and be honest and sincere to one's profession. It is about safeguarding one's place under the sun. Thus, admittedly, the current situation may not quite be because of lack of collective thinking processes and mechanisms but because of the lack of an appropriate culture)

Anyway, I found myself gravitating towards the belief that the confusion today ought to be partly because of lack of KM practices! :-) And I then extended the same thought process into areas like religion. I found myself thinking about why there are so many religions even though most religions advocate the same noble things. Why is there no knowledge management and collective thinking when it comes to religions? Realistically speaking, is it possible at all to merge everything into one entity? But of course, the idea is not about avoiding variety and opposition but allowing it to emerge and then merge. It's like letting all the variety live together....letting all the rivers flow into one ocean. Speaking of which, I believe there has been an attempt to unify all religions into one...eh? I think I read about it somewhere....don't seem to be able to recall now...

And, hey, if you're reading this, thanks for letting me ramble.....yet again! :P

No comments: