Social Media vs. Knowledge Management: A Generational War

That’s the title of an article worth reading at social computing (And speaking of social media, this article came to my attention via a Twitter post by Mathew Ingram.)

The article says:

KM and SM look very similar on the surface, but are actually radically different at multiple levels, both cultural and technical, and are locked in an undeclared cultural war for the soul of Enterprise 2.0.

And the most hilarious part is that most of the combatants don’t even realize they are in a war. They think they are loosely-aligned and working towards the same ends, with some minor differences of emphasis. So let me tell you about this war and how it is shaping up.

The article goes on to explain how boomers, gen-Xr’s and millenials approach this subject from different viewpoints. It’s partly based on a top down control perspective vs. a “let’s just create it” perspective.

Another quote:

If you are wondering how a significant corporate cultural war can be in progress without making headlines, it is because the three generations involved process the world with different primary cognitive stances. The Boomers attempt to understand the world with words, and the best they can do is talk to themselves. The Gen X’ers try to avoid conflict by seeking solace in data and a relentless focus on reality. The Millenials are blissfully unaware of larger dynamics and just go ahead and create.

The article is interesting from the perspective of generational differences, and of KM vs. SM.

So what does this have to do with the practice of law?

We all know that lawyers are hard to govern. We don’t like to do what we are told by the firm. Many lawyers are also traditionalists and are not keen to change. (Perhaps we are too rooted in precedent as an operating manual rather than as context – but that may be the subject of another post.) The top down approach usually doesn’t work. Knowledge management is a logical tool for lawyers to take advantage of to better practice and serve our clients – but its hard to get lawyers to buy in to it.

Perhaps there is hope in that as millenials start to take root in law firms they will just start to use social media tools to bring knowledge management into law firms from the bottom up.

Wiki anyone?

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