One day before ECKM

Paris, 29.09.04

One day before ECKM, I was invited to a special lunch where the former CNAM-IIM KM MBA professors where supposed to meet Karl Wiig. In case there’s anyone here who does not know who Karl Wiig is, he’s called the father or great-oncle of Knowledge Management, because he was the first who ever used this term in 1986, at the ILO conference in Zürich.

The lunch was planned by Charles Despres – the IIM Director, and Daniele Chauvel– the KM MBA Director. Actually, Charles and Daniele co-organized the ECKM this year, together with Academic Conferences.

The lunch was at Fontaines d’Elisabeth, a small and cosy restaurant close to the Elisabeth Church next to CNAM.

A few words on the participants:

Nicholas Leck – from Entopia –used to be the head of a EC workgroup on KM initiatives

– Andrew Lewis and his colleague – from Nemesia

Michel Grundstein

– Gilles Proriol- Cognito – a company involved in knowledge cartography networks software

– Franck Halmaert – AlmaTeam

Andre Yves Portnoff

It was a lovely meeting with excellent food and wine, but mostly with interesting talks. Karl Wiig told us about his Norvegian origin, about being retired (he doesn’t believe it himself – he’s only officially 😉 retired! ), and declared himself happy that his newest book which I ordered via Amazon did not arrive on time. Why? Because otherwise I would have been able to attack his ideas!

We talked about different professionals using the concept of “Knowledge Management” to name very different things – this being the cause of tremendous misunderstandings. This reminded me again the story of the six blind wise man trying to describe an elephant. Changing its name? Karl Wiig told us about the replacement word he thought of – and this would be epistemics. Mentioning the fact that in Romanian, knowledge is translated in two different ways: (1) as the process of knowing (cunoastere) and (2) as the result of the process (cunostinte), Karl Wiig noticed that the first approach was dynamic, as opposite to the second, which is static. This made me think that the first approach belongs to societal, human resource sources, while the second originates from the technological domain.

It was interesting to see how such an important person was paying attention to what other people said, asking them questions and not imposing his point of view. I think this is one of the important features of a free spirit, you can’t speak about knowledge management without being open to learn from every experience and from any person you meet! And during the next two days, Wiig kept on passing from one room to the other, talking to lots of people, asking questions, offering his ideas.

I had the chance to talk also to some of my “teaching colleagues” about our grup of students- their special way of learning as a group. I was happy to receive a confirmation – it was not only me who noticed they worked better in a group than as individuals. We all agreed on the rewarding experience in itself, and on the fact that selection criteria should be improved.

In the evening, there was a cocktail offered by the ECKM organizers, where registration was also possible. This gave me the chance to meet some of the participants before.

Charles Despres tried to introduce me again to Karl Wiig, and both of us played our roles with dignity, getting acquainted once more, till we started to laugh lout. Actually, Charles kept promoting me during the whole conference as a star, which was bad, because after 3 days I almost bought the story myself;-)! This is it, we all have an ego, no matter how deep we try to hide it!

I had finally the chance to meet Sue Nugus in person, who was of great help to me in the last 5 years regarding my conference participation. And met again Prof. Remenyi, the person who brought me to KM as a potential research field, almost 6 years ago.

And two other nice ladies, Iris Reychev, from Israel, and Helen Richardson from New Zealand, who were going to present their papers on Friday, in a session I was going to chair. I kept telling everyone that I am from Romania, I got a research fellowship, spent 9 months in Germany, and now I’m in Luxembourg for the other 9 months. I think I told the story 50 times during the 3 days. So when Iris asked me if I speak any Romanian, I said: Naturally! Her parents immigrated to Israel from Romania, and she was still able to speak Romanian, even if she was born and grew up in Israel.

A very interesting conversation with Tiit Elenurm, from the Estonian Business School, made me lose the last chance to get a drink (all I desired was water!), becase the bar closed. Anyway, it was worth it! So I accepted the dinner invitation, and joined a group made mainly of the organizers, but also of few conference guests.

Roy Williams – whom I had the chance to meet at the very first ECKM in Bled, Slovenia, Tiit Elernum and I debated the future of e-learning, talking about the paradigm shift. Of course I brought Stephen Downes’ ideas in the conversation – it was inevitable:-)

Attracted by the discussion going on on my other side, I got acquainted to Elena Bou from ESADE, Spain. She and Charles were talking about career targets and the dream position. As several times before, being asked an unexpected question made me give an unexpected answer – unexpected even for me. It was about my dream job after my fellowship comes to an end next year. Charles asked me what is my major criterium : fame? money? a particular place in the world? more free time? And my answer was: usefulness. This is how I’d like to be: useful – not rich, not famous, but useful. I’m actually looking for a job that would put most of my skills to work, and would make a difference in this crazy world, making it just a tiny little bit better.

I know this sounds a bit odd and idealistic, but this is how I feel.

And then another gentleman showed up: it was Ib Ravn from Denmark. After introductions, we got very fast to informal learning, and I said Danish people are better than most of the other nations at informal learning and knowledge sharing. Ib asked me why do I think so – and what came into my mind where their tradition in longlife learning – after all, Grundtvig was a Dane, and the flat hierarchy in the Scandinavian companies. And also because the Danish culture is not one of competition, as the American or German ones. He agreed with the arguments, even if he didn’t totally agreed with my first statement. We continued our talk in the next days, and Ib’s presentation was one of the best I heard at the ECKM.

October 06 2004 01:17 am | Uncategorized

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