The Story

The struggle

Organisations adopted in the late 90-ties and the beginning of this milennium the concept of Knowledge Management. Did it pay off? According to survey among 1430 top managers the finding was: "Knowledge Management is the least value contributing strategic management instrument” (source: D. Rigby and B Bilodeau in Management Tools and Trends 2009). In fact there is a belief that there is no believable way to justify most Knowledge Management Programmes. Knowledge Management have a reputation for large and expensive programmes

Why this belief and lack of performance? Is Knowledge Management an immature field? Is it badly executed? It is a fuzzy issue for many Knowledge Activists who are trying to develop knowledge and struggle with the performance of their and their organization's actions in the field of Knowledge Management and Learning Organizations. As a Knowledge Activists I was triggered by many thinkers which helped me to understand the fuzziness. As a Master of Change Management and a Programme Director I had the starting point that a singular view and a IT driven view would not work. A plural view starting with understanding the process of organisational learning and ending with benefits for all stakeholders might work.

The inspiration

Building upon the plural view I was inspired by:

  • Peter Senge started with his book the Fifth Discipline: System Thinking.  Why? Because it was time we start to develop a common view upon  this fuzzy and intangible stuff called Knowledge Management. We need to develop a visual model in order to intervene in this troubles aspect of Knowledge Management and Learning Organizations.
  • Ikujiro Nonaka, Hirotaka Takeuchi and George von Krogh inspired me with their thoughts upon the Knowledge Creating Company and its enablers. Why? Because as a master of Change Management I think that it is a major change which requires different perspectives and an paradigm shift.
  • Etienne Wenger inspired me with his thoughts about Community of Practices and their habitats. Why? Because Learning Organizations starts at an individual level: with me! And their are socially constructed.
  • Gordon Petrash (CEO Dow Chemical): “Knowledge Management is a journey.  It is not new.  Managing knowledge has taken place ever since a cave person passed a tool to their partner. What’s different today is that we’re starting to develop a language to talk about this fuzzy and intangible stuff.  We need to develop visual frameworks to help people build this language.  If we can visualize, we can measure and if we can measure, we can manage.”

The source of  the L'Earning Lemniscate

The l'Earning Lemniscate has its origin in the context of a consultancy firm (Logica). After its development by a community of knowledge activists and its use in Knowledge Management within Logica, it became a key Knowledge Management model in the Executive MBA  Programme of the Rotterdam Business School. In using the L'Earning Lemniscate with MBA students  it soon appeared that the usability is broader: each organization with a more or less professional configuration (according to Mintzberg-Structure in five) can profit of the insights which comes with the model.


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