Tacit-Group Processes in KM

Tacit-group processes and factors in the lower left quadrant in the expanded KM framework (see diagram below reproduced from the previous blog post) are often the weaknesses in KM initiatives.

Expanded KM framework at the planetary level

Expanded KM framework at the planetary level

The following are examples:

  • An e-group for knowledge sharing is set up, but knowledge sharing hardly occurs because the intended users hardly know and trust each other and do not share similar goals.
  • A knowledge fair organized by a vice president is hardly attended by staff under another vice president because of factionalism between the two vice presidents.
  • A know-it-all CEO shoots down new ideas, generating an organizational culture of anti-suggestion and anti-innovation.
  • Communication and productivity of a team suffered after an egotistical new member started to ruin the working relationships among the team members.
  • An organization-wide KM program was not fully accepted by all senior managers and started to falter; a mid-course evaluation by an outside consultant diagnosed the problem as lack of change management that should have accompanied the processes of design and roll-out of the KM program.

The lower-left quadrant is about TACIT-GROUP processes and factors: trust, shared goal or mutual agreement, unity (or factionalism), shared vision (e.g. Gaia consciousness), organizational culture, teamwork, mutual understanding of a group work process, general acceptance, etc. “Ba” of Ikujiro Nonaka belongs to this quadrant.

According to philosopher Ken Wilber’s integral framework, there are four types of knowledge. There are “Four Faces of Truth.”

Ken Wilber's "Four Faces of Truth"

Compare Ken Wilber’s integral framework with the expanded KM framework. The two frameworks are consistent (I wrote about this in a paper to be published by EADI/IKM).

Now, back to the importance of tacit-group processes. Without Gaia consciousness among earth’s inhabitants, I doubt how they can solve common problems such as the global environmental crisis. Ken Wilber said that resolution of this crisis lies in tacit-group processes:

    “Before we can even attempt an ecological healing, we must first reach a mutual understanding and mutual agreement among ourselves as to the best way to collectively proceed. In other words, the healing impulse comes from championing not functional fit but mutual understanding and interior qualitative distinctions. Anything short of that, no matter what the motives, perpetuates the fracture.”

Peter Senge summarized his best-seller book “The Fifth Discipline: the Art and Practice of the Learning Organization” by affirming the fundamental importance of tacit-group processes:

    “The central message of The Fifth Discipline is… that our organizations work the way they work, ultimately, because of how we think and how we interact.”

With apologies to Peter Senge, what is the message when we replace the word “organization” with “planetary society”?

    The central message of The Fifth Discipline is… that our planetary society works the way it works, ultimately, because of how we think and how we interact.

Is ours a “learning planetary society”? If not, are we getting there?

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