In his book, The Wealth of Knowledge, Stewart (2007) wrote that “Connection, not collection” was the essence of knowledge management (p. 175). As our technology – and our understanding and use of it – has expanded, knowledge management has evolved from a basic database repository to a structure that allows us to easily access and leverage collective knowledge (Dixon, 2009). Thus, we now connect – not simply collect (Stewart, 2007).
The launch of the Internet – and all of the technology that has developed as a result – has forever changed our world. In fact, the mere existence of such technology has significantly impacted global events. Our world has been flattened – and these new forms of technology allow for collaboration at a level that was previously unimaginable (Friedman, 2007).
As Friedman (2007) describes, “along came the triple convergence. The Berlin Wall came down, the Berlin mall opened up, and suddenly some three billion people who had been behind walls walked onto the flattened global piazza” (p. 211). In China, Russia and India, economies and political systems opened up at the exact time in which unprecedented collaboration was made possible through new technology and work tools (Friedman, 2007).
While the ability to communicate and collaborate created new opportunities, it also revealed possible ramifications. As Harvard University economist Richard B. Freeman stated, “You don’t bring three billion people into the world economy overnight without huge consequences, especially from three societies with rich educational heritages” (Friedman, 2007, p. 212).
As such, we must recognize that the flattened, open, connected world in which we now live allows for not only historical collaboration but also unparalleled competition. As Friedman (2007) warned, “this is no slow-motion triple convergence. It’s happening fast…and there is nothing that guarantees it will be Americans or Western Europeans permanently leading the way” (p. 213).
As Friedman (2007) stated, the “triple convergence has now reached critical mass, and it involves so many more people and places” (p. 231). Accordingly, such rapid growth of technology and evolution of knowledge management require our leaders to not only embrace and engage these web-based tools but, equally important, to prepare for what’s next.
Carly Fiorina, the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Hewlett-Packard, may have described the extent of this challenge best, declaring that “the last twenty-five years in technology have been the warm-up act. Now we are going into the main event – an era in which technology will literally transform every aspect of business, every aspect of life and every aspect of society” (Friedman, 2007, p. 231).
Steward, T. (2007). The Wealth of Knowledge –Intellectual Capital and the Twenty-First –Century Organization. New York: Random House LLC.
Friedman, T.L. (2007). The World Is Flat: A brief history of the twenty-first century
New York: Picador/Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Dixon, N. (2009, May 2). Three Eras of Knowledge Management. Retrieved from NancyDixon.com:http://www.nancydixonblog.com/2009/05/where-knowledge-management-has-been-and-where-it-is-going-part-one.html