One of the many issues that we discussed at Cambridge during the IKM Emergent meetings was the name of IKM Working Group 3, currently ‘Management of knowledge’. The two options we considered were either changing the name or setting it, more firmly, in the context which we are using it. With this background, I just had an interesting phone call with Ewen Leborgne who pointed out that the origin of the term ‘management’ is actually from the Latin for riding horses… As a horse lover, I was therefore challenged to trying to compare my experience with riding with that of doing knowledge management.
One of the first similarities is the struggle involved in trying to get better at it, and often not succeeding. Another is the fact that horses let you see the world from a new perspective: you can sense their sensitivity to the wind, understand the body language of other horses, and develop your own fear of plastic bags or loud, unexpected noises. In this sense, KM also helps me to look at the institutions with which we work in new ways and from new perspectives…
The metaphor does breakdown, however, as I can tell you from my own bitter experience, when your horse goes lame, or gallops off with you in a direction of its own choosing… I don’t expect that runaway knowledge management for development will enter the vocabulary in our field.
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