Defining the new generation of knowledge management: C-Generation

In past articles (the future of KM: understanding c-generation &  Gen Y the new face of knowledge management) we’ve discussed about the convergence of social media and knowledge management (KM) and the rise of the new generation of KM: C-Generation.

C-Generation has a peculiar DNA: connectivity, collaboration and co-creation are the main principles. On the heels of a new age of Knowledge Workers, where Gen Y will become the predominant work force in a few year`s time,   it`s important that we analyze the shift in human interaction since knowledge transfer and generation will depend largely on our ability to adapt and transform environments into dynamic learning opportunities.

Understanding Gen Y will be crucial. We might have to start listening for a moment in order to understand how interaction occurs in this generation. In a nutshell, trust isn’t a problem for them as they are more open towards sharing and accepting knowledge from others. This means that culture won’t be a problem for Kmers and they will have to shift their attention towards securing an adequate “BA”.

The term BA was introduced in KM by Nonaka. He referred to it as “a shared space for emerging relationships” and concluded that there are four types of BA that correspond to each phase of his SECI model. Social Media might as well be considered as the 5th BA as companies are going digital but in order to be successful  we need to create a powerful connection between social and business.

The challenge is that senior leaders refuse to go digital. Social isn’t frightening but the concept is still not embedded in their daily routines and they still feel that anything derived from social media is time wasting and a hazardous grapevine which will drive attention away from the business goals. This will change as Gen Y takes its place in senior ranks. They are just a few years away from becoming the predominant workforce and  a we need to start developing a “BA” which suits their communication styles and learning methodologies if we really want to garner engagement.

Furthermore, C-Generation responds to a natural shift in human communication. Building relationships will result in a culture of digital behaviorism and open collaboration. Knowledge sharing will flow largely through conversations and therefore we will need to adapt current methods in order to deliver knowledge in organizations. This in fact is largely related to the concept of “storytelling”.

Controlling this natural flow of knowledge will be a challenge but its not impossible. We will need to secure that conversations are tied to critical knowledge and identify “learning moments” which can turn into important business actions. I don`t know to what extent we can capture lessons learned and best practices through social media but one thing is for sure: knowledge sharing becomes more natural and this is why yammer like platforms are being implemented in business to help strengthen team communication and problem solution. However, as I mentioned before you will need someone to tap in and identify the learning moments in order to take the necessary steps to convert the experience into organizational knowledge.

Over time organizations will need to adapt and Kmers must spearhead this change in order to garner KM support through the new communications tools. For some this might feel like we are travelling back in time and rediscovering the first generation of KM where technology was considered to be the most important success factor. Even I find it hard to imagine that we will be able to develop KM without having to dwell with the cultural issue but we need to understand that digital Darwinism has changed the face business and technology keeps evolving every day. Knowledge workers are now “connected workers” that depend on one another to develop knowledge. In fact socially constructed knowledge will add further value to any company that decides to enter the race.

the question is: is it really an option? 

As markets become more volatile and organizations keep growing  we will need to develop talent and retain critical knowledge. The difference from years before is that we need it to get it done asap. There`s no time to think twice about it. Every minute that passes might represent a lost opportunity. In this sense KM will depend on social media in order to secure knowledge transfer and contribute with talent development on a large scale making knowledge readily available and identifying subject matter experts through social network analysis.

Start small: set clear objectives and actions supported by KPIs that clearly demonstrate value preposition. If you can`t then I suggest you go back to the drawing board until you find what the business really needs. Don´t forget to do this alongside your business partners: senior leaders, managers, SMEs, etc.

Finally we can conclude by defining C-Generation as the next step in knowledge development where Gen Y converges with social media in order to create dynamic learning environments based on the principles of  Connectivity, Collaboration and Co-Creation.

Welcome to the new age of KM: C-Generation.

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3 responses to “Defining the new generation of knowledge management: C-Generation

  1. Good article except one point I’m keen to point out: If certain contemporary KM theorists are critical of Nonaka (the SECI model suggests knowledge conversion as if it’s some 3D object/colorful fluid we can trace through phenomena: this is faulty), there is a a risk in referring to it in a text dealing the ‘c-generation’ of KM.

  2. @bluemetal to be honest I haven’t heard if that theory, would be great if you could provide additional information. The point in using Nonakas’s model as reference is to understand the current evolution of KM as Nonaka wasn’t too far away from grounding the next steps in Gen C. It’s actually the mid point between 1rst gen KM and c-gen. I wouldn’t go too deep In theory and just garner the essence of the ba concept as it entails the concept of building an enriched learning environment through relationships.

  3. Pingback: Building the next generation of Knowledge Management | Knowledge Management in Action·

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