RIP Larry Prusak

 Sad news today that Larry Prusak, one of the founder figures of Knowledge Management, has died.

In memoriam, here are some of Larry’s words of wisdom.

“Those companies that don’t adapt to understanding knowledge as a force of production more important than land labour and capital, will slowly die, and will never know what killed them”.

“The modern organisation evolved in the 19th century to deal with land, labour and capital, not with knowledge, which was assumed to reside only in the heads of the owners and managers. This led us to the modern organisation built on command and control mechanisms, run as hierarchical bureaucracies. This won’t do when knowledge is the major source of value, as it is for most large organisations today.”

“One of the great conundrums in KM is Compliance; how do you get people to do this? The smarter firms realise that it is situational. People aren’t lazy or stupid or don’t care; you should look at the way people work; if they don’t use a system, then why not? Its almost always an issue of bounded rationality; we don’t have the energy, money , time or space to do it”. 

“Incentives work. Remember when asking people to share knowledge; we live in a bounded universe. You have limited energy, limited money and limited time. Why do X instead of Y without marginal utilisation or incentives”.

“If you have one dollar to invest in knowledge management, put one cent into information management and 99 cents into human interaction.”

“Everywhere I speak people conflate information and knowledge — and this situation is greatly abetted by IT vendors and consultants for obviously commercial reasons. I would estimate that tens of billions of dollars have been wasted by organizations trying to work with knowledge by buying IT tools. Since none of this is taught in Business schools or perhaps ANY schools it isn’t too surprising that most people can’t define knowledge as distinct from information”.

“There’s a struggle going on between those companies that have an overly technical focus on KM, and those that think it’s all just talking and cultural issues. It’s a real battle”.

More on Larry at Stan Garfield’s site. 

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Shared by: Nick Milton