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Revolution in Knowledge Management

David Gilmour, from Silicon Valley, suggests a "dating service" instead of the KM publishing model

Gilmour, CEO of Tacit Knowledge Systems, in Palo Alto, argues in the October 2003 edition of Harvard Business Review (article: "How to fix knowledge management - companies should stop trying to capture knowledge and instead help employees truly connect"), at the "Forethought" section, that the traditional KM theory and model is useless.

Interview by Jorge Nascimento Rodrigues, editor of, November 2003

Article at HBR

Instead of the KM publishing model (and the idea of explicit knowledge in formal data bases), you suggest a kind of peer-to-peer "dating service" model. Can you explain why?

The main reason is that the publishing model is inherently limited in scope to information that has gone through some kind of publishing or sharing process. Most content is informal and unpublished, and it is either prohibitively expensive or altogether inappropriate to publish much of it. As a consequence, publishing strategies simply miss a huge part of what might be shared. In a brokering (or "dating service") model, information can be shared between two specific people, without being published to others. This allows much more, in total, to be shared, since people will share things with specific others that they will not share with everyone in general.

What should be stopped are efforts to try to share everything - or "capture" all knowledge - through a publishing model. A brokered sharing model layers on top of a content sharing (publishing) model and allows only content truly suitable for publishing to go through that relatively expensive process.

But do you think we can have a "mix" model - with the p2p relationship/brokerage model and the traditional KM publishing model?

Yes, there is no reason to stop managing content and sharing it. What should be stopped are efforts to try to share everything - or "capture" all knowledge - through a publishing model. A brokered sharing model layers on top of a content sharing (publishing) model and allows only content truly suitable for publishing to go through that relatively expensive process.

Can you refer some case studies you think are example of the model you suggest?

Aventis Pharmaceuticals has done well with a mixed approach. A case study can be found through Gartner Group.

Can you explain also how your company's offer works? What's its main advantage?

Tacit's technology supports the model of brokered exchange by automatically producing profiles of what people are likely to know, based on noticing what they focus their time and attention on as they use routine IT systems. This is different from "mining content" because the process is private to each person. Then, Tacit allows searching, publishing, brokering, and profile management through Web interfaces. Tacit is the only technology in existence that automates the process of knowledge discovery and brokering with privacy.

David L. Gilmour
President and CEO
Tacit Knowledge Systems, Inc.
Palo Alto, CA

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