Last week, I attended Knowledge Management UK — the Ark Group’s flagship KM conference. Last month I attended and presented at their equivalent for the legal community — KM Legal. There is probably a blog post to be written about the need for both, but this is not it. I just wanted to bring together a few thoughts.
(Rather than one of my own pictures, as usual, I was going to add one of someone else’s. But it isn’t available for embedding, so you can see it on Flickr instead. The whole set is worth a look too — it captures the spirit of KMUK pretty well, I think.)
A key difference between the two conferences was in the approach to social media. The chair of KM Legal suggested that tweeting should be kept to a minimum in order to prevent distractions, but at KMUK it was positively encouraged. (There is another post to be written about the pros and cons of conference tweeting…) In fact, KM Legal conformed to the stereotype of lawyers, in that there were very few screens evident in the audience — most people were taking notes the old-fashioned way, using pen and paper.
So I didn’t send more than a couple of tweets about KM Legal, but I tweeted quite a bit during KMUK (which seems to have been appreciated by some of those who couldn’t be at the conference). I also used Posterous to share longer thoughts about some of the sessions:
- Some initial thoughts on KMUK 2010
- In praise of small talk
- Three takeaways from KMUK 2010
- Knowledge transfer and learning from the Hunterian Museum
(I have also added a feed from my posterous site, where I am writing more frequently these days, to the menu at the right here.)
If I had to pick out a theme common to both conferences, I think it is probably a realisation that the old approaches are not enough. At KM Legal there was virtually no reference to know-how databases or knowledge repositories. Instead, people were talking about the way that KM was (or should be) embedded in the strategic processes of their firms — making a real contribution to debates about legal process outsourcing, practice management, and strategy. At KMUK, we were encouraged by Dave Snowden to reposition KM as sensemaking and by Dillon Dhanecha to avoid doing things that would not demonstrably add value to the organisation. I hope Dillon writes up some of his thoughts because I sensed a bit of a tension between what he said about ensuring that people only did what they knew would add value (which appeared to suggest an approach that exclude experimentation, serendipity and emergence) and his exhortation to follow Richard Branson and “screw it, let’s do it.”
However, the best thing about both conferences was the annual renewing of acquaintances and meeting new people. Nick Davies reprised his award-winning contribution to KCUK 2009 in a couple of sessions that really brought home the importance of personal contact. These conferences (and others, I am sure) prove his point.