Knowledge Management in Concurrent Engineering

Knowledge Management in Concurrent Engineering – Picked up this invite to CE2003 – Concurrent Engineering conference, July in Madeira – through my normal industrial channels, and scanned the topics / threads. It barely matters what the headline title is, the same topics expand to fill every space. Whether its automation, AI, integration, whatever the industry, the buzzwords are enterprise, distributed and knowledge – Oh, and management of course. In fact Knowledge Management is rapidly becoming the catch-all subject for everything to do with the management of the effectiveness and efficiency organisations, whatever the aims of the organisation. When I did my MBA dissertation on the “Management of Change” over 15 years ago I very quickly concluded that my subject was quite simply about “decision making” – the inputs, the processes, and the outcomes – and in any organisation of any kind, decision making is a human social event, and furthermore in any such event there is a discovery and learning aspect concerning the information involved in the outputs. This is true whether you are an individual inside the ACME Widget Company deciding whether to buy component X or to design and build component Y, or whether you are the collective governments of the “free world” deciding whether or not to give Saddam a bloody nose. So another cynical case of “it was ever thus” ? …. well actually it’s encouraging to see the human dimension being recognised more and more often … so for example

Roberta Cuel is delivering a paper on “Emergent Knowledge Management Theories and Practises”, and she is also an active member of the Knowledge Board, where I note that in a paper she co-authors, the abstract says …
[Quote] … we criticise the objectivistic approach that underlies most current systems for Knowledge Management. We show that such an approach is incompatible with the very nature of what is to be managed (i.e., knowledge), and we argue that this may partially explain why most knowledge management systems are deserted by users. We propose a different approach – called distributed knowledge management – in which subjective and social (in a word, contextual) aspects of knowledge are seriously taken into account. Finally, we present a general technological architecture in which these ideas are implemented by introducing the concept of knowledge node.[Unquote] …. and this architecture turns out to be essentially P2P. So knowledge is about peers interacting then ?

Also on Knowledge Board, Martin Vasey commenting specifically about the organisation of office space in the context of knowledge management
[Quote] Having spent several years from 1993 involved in a major new office building which invoked hot desking I can confirm that an office and a desk means far more to people than a place to sit and do their work. The effectiveness of an individual is significantly affected by who they are in proximity with. If people are not sitting with their working teams they are actually better virtual working, and having regular physical team meetings, than they are sitting with members of different teams. The hot desking project was ultimately abandoned under pressure from staff, with an immediate improvement in morale and productivity. [Unquote] So knowledge is about peers interacting then ?

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