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The Knowledge Activist's Handbook

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The Knowledge Activist's Handbook

Adventures from the Knowledge Trenches


15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Manage knowledge actively for time, speed and innovation. As for competition, beware — proprietary know-how is fleeting.

Editorial Rating



  • Innovative
  • Applicable


Author Victor Newman sets out to demystify knowledge management, strip away the jargon and offer a clear, useful guide to integrating emotions and logic practically. His information is random, bouncy with unconnected - though interesting - anecdotes, mostly in the first person. The author didn’t assemble his thoughts in a very orderly way, given that this is more of a notebook than a book, but he comes through with punchy, tight chapters and a rare sense of humor. Most writing about knowledge management is tedious and academic. This book aims to break that pattern. It’s a collection of personal stories, because knowledge management is, after all, a personal enterprise. As a notebook, this publication has both utility and merit. Newman offers valid criticisms of current knowledge management practices, and suggests some modes of thought and some useful readings. Sequence isn’t the priority here, content is. You will find nuggets of useful knowledge management lore and counsel. recommends keeping the book handy and dipping in often for a helping hand. This notebook is like any other set of knowledge: you’ll have to manage it a bit.


Conceptual Understanding

Knowledge activists must be unreasonable nonconformists who pull disparate fragments together to create something valuable, thus fulfilling a business need. Most business managers try to solve the same knowledge management problems in the same way, always moving to increasingly complicated and expensive tools. Most of the knowledge management community has not helped cure this ill. Knowledge management researchers tend to talk to each other in obscure jargon; publish reams of dense, unintelligible reports; use a language that no one else could possibly understand and spend a lot of time drawing matrices. The knowledge management community may be less a community than a trinity of "lost tribes," those who handle:

  • Information technology (IT) - They organize data, but don’t produce knowledge.
  • Organizational learning - Most of the managers haven’t spent time learning.
  • Lean production - Their ideology is just about time and money, not knowledge.

A knowledge activist needs to buck the culture, think new ways and invent creative approaches. Knowledge management activists do three things:

  1. Identify...

About the Author

Victor Newman, Chief Learning Officer of the European Pfizer Research University in Sandwich, England, invented the "SuperKnowledge," "Predator" and "Barefoot" approaches to knowledge management.

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