Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A *Formula* for Intellectual Infrastructure

It is amazing how you see links to what you truly believe in and are passionate about in just about everything - which at first seems unrelated - you come across. I took a break from work last week during which I caught up with a book called "Small is Beautiful" by EF Schumacher. I was thrilled to find some material for this blog therein and more importantly food for thought.

Schumacher's book was written in the early 1970s and focuses on the importance of preserving the environment through appropriate economic policies and actions. He questions the then economic policies and wonders if our obsession with economic growth at the cost of the environment and people's real needs (employment, manageable growth rate, development of rural areas) will leave us in dire straits. How true. Today, more than 3 decades later, one of the most critical issues for all governments and human beings on earth is the depletion of natural resources, global warming and unabated industrial growth that comes at severe intangible costs.

In one of the chapters, Schumacher talks about the need for an "intellectual infrastructure" strategy in order to help developing countries. And it has an uncanny resemblance to a typical knowledge management strategy, in my opinion. 

Schumacher's intellectual infrastructure plan reads as follows: (Rephrased Extracts)

1. Communication - To enable workers to know what other workers are doing and to facilitate direct exchange of information

2. Information Brokerage - To assemble and distribute relevant information. The essence being not to hold all the information in one centre but to hold information on information or know-how on know-how

3. Feed-back - Transmission of problems from the field to the groups where the solutions exist

4. Sub-structures - Creation and co-ordination of action groups and teams for assistance (champions) within the field - that is, within the target audience themselves

It takes me back to my reflection that KM strategies need the three Tipping Point Cs - Communication, Champions and Context.

What do you think? Does your KM strategy follow these principles and ideas?

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