Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Multiple styles of EA

@tetradian has an interesting post on Big EA, Little EA and Personal EA., based loosely on Patti Ancram's classification of knowledge management.
  • Big KM is about top-down, structured and organizationally distinct “knowledge management”
  • Little KM is about safe-fail experiments embedded in the organizational structure
  • Personal KM is about access to tools and methods to ensure that knowledge, context, bits, fragments, thoughts, ideas are harvestable

As I see it, this classification identifies different styles that may possibly coexist, or perhaps different kinds of knowledge claim that may interact in interesting ways. (I don't like the word "layers" for this kind of classification, because it implies a particular structural pattern, which isn't appropriate here.)

I've used a slightly different division in the trust sphere, which might make sense here as well.
  • Authority EA - this is a kind of top-down command-and-control EA, representing the will-to-power of the enterprise as a whole, and ultimately answerable to the CEO. This is what Tom calls Big EA.
  • Commodity EA - this is where the EA is based on some kind of external product source - such as when the enterprise models are imported wholesale from IBM or SAP. This often resembles Big EA, but has some important differences.
  • Network EA - this is where EA is based on informal and emergent collaboration between people and organizations. Tom calls it Little EA, but the collaborations can be very extended indeed - just think about some of the mashup ecosystems around Google or Twitter.
  • Authentic EA - this is a personally engaged practice - what Tom calls Personal EA.

Once we have agreed that there are different styles, the really interesting question is not identifying and naming the styles, nor even saying that one style is somehow "better" than another style", but talking about how the different styles interact, and what are the implications for governance.

1 comment:

Tom G said...

Many thanks, Richard.

No disagreement between us here (not from my side, anyway! :-) ). The only reason I chose those labels was to align with Patti Anklam's excellent summary for KM: they're not essential and probably not semantically significant. In many ways your labels are a lot better for this purpose, and the point you make about 'Commodity EA' is important, because it's a common source of serious problems.

Again, I would agree that these categories are not layers as such; yet nor are they 'styles', really. They're more about different types of responsibility - which again brings us back to the centrality of governance, and questions about how the different responsibilities interact, as you suggest at the end of the post.