Foreword: The Generations of Knowledge Management
Sometime in the early 1990s, the idea caught on in several organizations that it was actually possible to do something about knowledge in their organizations. The “something” that could be done was often hotly debated among the knowledge practitioners, consultants, academics, and internally competing functions. However, a general consensus emerged by the middle of the decade that could be summarized in this way:
• Knowledge in organizations is most likely to be found in existing or emergent documents.
• The key to managing these documents are better systems—either technology systems or cleverer taxonomies.
• Incentives can easily be developed to encourage the production and use of these documents.
• All of these activities can be measured for their effectiveness within the organization and their costs can be justified this way.
• Knowledge was the result of individual action and thinking and the individual is the most efficient unit of analysis for working with knowledge in the firm.
• Knowledge management projects had a very strong technological component.
These general ideas were termed knowledge management (KM) by many (including myself, alas), and by 1995 these ideas had taken hold and much effort and expenditures were being burned up in putting them into practice. Ideas have consequences and these surely did as knowledge practitioners, consultants, and technology vendors all jumped on the KM bandwagon to implement these systems. ...