Knowledge Management Books

From KM4Dev Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

Knowledge Management Reading Books

On 14 December 2012, Johannes Schunter asked the followin question on the KM4Dev mailing list.

If I had time to read one good innovative KM-related book over the holidays (excluding classics like Learning to Fly or The Knowledge-Creating Company), what would you recommend? Which book inspired you recently in your KM work?

Here is a summary of the recommendations received.


On 14 December 2012, Johannes Schunter asked the followin question on the KM4Dev mailing list.

If I had time to read one good innovative KM-related book over the holidays (excluding classics like Learning to Fly or The Knowledge-Creating Company), what would you recommend? Which book inspired you recently in your KM work?

Here is a summary of the recommendations received.


knowledge mangement, reading material, organizational change, learning

KM4Dev Discussions

Recommendations in no specific order:

Original Author and Subsequent Contributors of this FAQ

  • Original author: Johannes Schunter
  • Adrian Walker
  • Boris Jaeger
  • Charles Dhewa
  • Daan Boom
  • George de Gooijer
  • Jaap Pels
  • John van Kooy
  • Malaika Wright
  • Matt Moore
  • M Taher
  • Richard Lalleman
  • Yaelle Link

Dates of First Creation and Further Revisions

7 February 2012 (Gauri Salokhe)

FAQ KM4Dev Source Materials

[Raw text of email discussions on which the FAQ is based] Original Text

I would suggest "Everything is Obvious" by Duncan Watts. It's not about KM per se but you will find lots of stuff in there that's relevant to the work we do.

How about this book:
Beyond Knowledge Management: What Every Leader Should Know
Jay Liebowitz (2012)

For the last 5 years I am using The Strategic Management of Intellectual Capital and Organizational Knowledge (2002) by Choo & Bontis (ed.) as reference work. It is a excellent collection of articles by experts such as Frank Blackler, Max Boisot, Robert Grant Russel Ackoff & William Starbuck. Even though the articles are more than 10 years old, it is oh-so relevant to today's challenges.

My favorite KM book is

Boyd: The Way of Knowledge: Managing the Unmanageable. Writers Club 2000,

Short but very inspiring!

An other one, just released (haven't read it yet) and in German only (I know this is no porblem for you) might be interesting, too:

Katenkamp: Implizites Wissen in Organisationen. Konzepte, Methoden und Ansätze im Wissensmanagement. VS Verlag, 2011

'Leading Without A Title' by Robin Sharma inspired me thoroughly. I am increasingly seeing a profound connection between KM and Leadership. My part of the world is crying for KM-enhanced leadership.

Made To Stick
Lovely discussion on communicating ideas effectively and has really influenced the way I plan training sessions and presentations.
It’s the kind of book that will make you want to quote extracts to your friends and colleagues.

The Ten Faces of Innovation
This is one of my favourite books to lend to people working in the KM and research communications sectors.
There’s a review and related links about it on my website

Squirrel Inc.: A Fable of Leadership through Storytelling

by Stephen Denning (Author)

I would recommend Figallo and Rhine (2002), Building the Knowledge Management Network. Check out the contents on Amazon to see if its the kind of book you'd be interested in -

Although the book is a little out of date in terms of technology, it has stood the test of time in terms of KM principles and practical, organisational approaches.

For something more inspiring and with wonderful 'natural world' metaphors, I'd suggest Patti Anklam's Net Work -

I would like to suggest the works of Chris Argyris and Donal Schön, describing organizational learning, and the processes blocking this.

One title to mention is On Organizational Learning, another is 'Overcoming Organizational Defences'

Not written yesterday but still valid today. And tomorrow.

Practical wisdom: the way to do the things the right way by Berry Schwartz and Kenneth Sharpe. Authors stress the necessity of a human approach, without politics, to the issues of how we live and interact with each other. It also refers to basics of knowledge by referring to Aristotle Phronesis and Sophia.

Another book I liked was The power of positive deviation by Richard Pascale and others. It i about a different approach to ensure community ownership in addressing change.

A much older book I sometimes re-read is Edgar Schon and Chris Argyris Organizational Learning 1975 and 1995. Still valid!

Here's a short, easy read that takes adds an executable English dimension to knowledge management --

The idea is to align business and IT more closely via a common language.

I would recommend Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society. One of the authors of Peter Senge of The Fifth Discipline. That book was an eye-opener for me, even though I was aware of systems thinking, and had principles I could apply both in my personal and my professional life. See below description from Amazon.

Presence is an intimate look at the development of a new theory about change and learning. In wide-ranging conversations held over a year and a half, organizational learning pioneers Peter Senge, C. Otto Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers explored the nature of transformational change—how it arises, and the fresh possibilities it offers a world dangerously out of balance. The book introduces the idea of “presence”—a concept borrowed from the natural world that the whole is entirely present in any of its parts—to the worlds of business, education, government, and leadership. Too often, the authors found, we remain stuck in old patterns of seeing and acting. By encouraging deeper levels of learning, we create an awareness of the larger whole, leading to actions that can help to shape its evolution and our future.

Drawing on the wisdom and experience of 150 scientists, social leaders, and entrepreneurs, including Brian Arthur, Rupert Sheldrake, Buckminster Fuller, Lao Tzu, and Carl Jung, Presence is both revolutionary in its exploration and hopeful in its message. This astonishing and completely original work goes on to define the capabilities that underlie our ability to see, sense, and realize new possibilities—in ourselves, in our institutions and organizations, and in society itself.

Best KM == Past KM :-) My 'island list' would contain: (I advise audio books and smooth drinks, waving palms ...) 1 Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (commonly GEB) is a book by Douglas Hofstadter, described by his publishing company as "a metaphorical fugue on minds and machines in the spirit of Lewis Carroll".[1] On its surface, GEB examines logician Kurt Gödel, artist M. C. Escher and composer Johann Sebastian Bach, discussing common themes in their work and lives. At a deeper level, the book is an exposition of concepts fundamental to mathematics, symmetry, and intelligence. Through illustration and analysis, the book discusses how self-reference and formal rules allow systems to acquire meaning despite being made of "meaningless" elements. It also discusses what it means to communicate, how knowledge can be represented and stored, the methods and limitations of symbolic representation, and even the fundamental notion of "meaning" itself. In response to confusion over the book's theme, Hofstadter has emphasized that GEB is not about mathematics, art, and music but rather about how cognition and thinking emerge from well-hidden neurological mechanisms. In the book, he presents an analogy about how the individual neurons of the brain coordinate to create a unified sense of a coherent mind by comparing it to the social organization displayed in a colony of ants.[2][3] 2 Pedagogy of the Oppressed is the most widely known of educator Paulo Freire's works. It proposes a pedagogy with a new relationship between teacher, student, and society. It was first published in Portuguese in 1968, and was translated and published in English in 1970.[1] Dedicated to what is called "the oppressed" and based on his own experience helping Brazilian adults to read and write, Freire includes a detailed Marxist class analysis in his exploration of the relationship between what he calls "the colonizer" and "the colonized." The book remains popular among educators all over the world and is one of the foundations of critical pedagogy. In the book Freire calls traditional pedagogy the "banking model" because it treats the student as an empty vessel to be filled with knowledge, like a piggybank. However, he argues for pedagogy to treat the learner as a co-creator of knowledge. According to Donaldo Macedo, a former colleague of Freire and University of Massachusetts professor, Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a revolutionary text, and people in totalitarian states risk punishment reading it[2]; Arizona's secretary of education, Tom Horne, objects to its use in classrooms.[3] The book has sold over 750 000 copies worldwide.[4] 3 BLACK MASS John N. Gray (born 17 April 1948, in South Shields, Tyne & Wear) is a British political philosopher and author, formerly School Professor of European Thought at the London School of Economics. Gray contributes regularly to The Guardian, New Statesman and The Times Literary Supplement, and has written several influential books on politics and philosophy, including False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism (1998), which argues that free market globalization is unstable and is in the process of collapsing, Straw Dogs: Thoughts on Humans and Other Animals (2003), which attacks philosophical humanism, a worldview which Gray sees as originating in religious ideologies, and Black Mass: Apocalyptic Religion and the Death of Utopia (2007), a critique of Utopian thinking in the modern world. Gray sees volition, and hence morality, as an illusion, and portrays humanity as a ravenous species engaged in wiping out other forms of life. Gray writes that 'humans ... cannot destroy the Earth, but they can easily wreck the environment that sustains them.'[1] 4 ANYTHING GOES Paul Karl Feyerabend (January 13, 1924 – February 11, 1994) was an Austrian-born philosopher of science best known for his work as a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked for three decades (1958–1989). He lived a peripatetic life, living at various times in England, the United States, New Zealand, Italy, Germany, and finally Switzerland. His major works include Against Method (published in 1975), Science in a Free Society (published in 1978) and Farewell to Reason (a collection of papers published in 1987). Feyerabend became famous for his purportedly anarchistic view of science and his rejection of the existence of universal methodological rules.[1] He is an influential figure in the philosophy of science, and also in the sociology of scientific knowledge.

5 Jürgen Habermas (English pronunciation: /ˈjɜrɡən/ or /ˈjʊərɡən ˈhɑːbərmɑːs/,[1] German: [ˈjʏʁɡən ˈhaːbɐmaːs]; born June 18, 1929) is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'. His work focuses on the foundations of social theory and epistemology, the analysis of advanced capitalistic societies and democracy, the rule of law in a critical social-evolutionary context, and contemporary politics, particularly German politics. Habermas's theoretical system is devoted to revealing the possibility of reason, emancipation, and rational-critical communication latent in modern institutions and in the human capacity to deliberate and pursue rational interests. Habermas is known for his work on the concept of modernity, particularly with respect to the discussions of "rationalization" originally set forth by Max Weber. While influenced by American pragmatism, action theory, and even poststructuralism, many of the central tenets of Habermas' thought remain broadly Marxist in nature. Global polls identified him as one of the leading intellectuals of the present.[2]