Dynamic equilibrium in a KM program

Posted by  Shawn Callahan —February 14, 2006
Filed in Anecdotes

I started blogging in 2002, first using Radiolands then Blogger. As many Anecdote readers would be unaware of my ordinal posts I thought I would pick a few and re-post them here. I will mark all my re-posts with the original url at the bottom of the blog entry.


In 1987 my father and I travelled to the Kimberleys in the north-west corner of Australia. We set out to complete the IStock_000000274700Smallfield work for my geography and archaeology honours thesis. My father accompanied me because my study grant required someone in the party who could fire a rifle. The estuaries of the Kimberleys are renowned for crocodiles.

Leading up to the field work I spent 6 months pouring over models of how macro-tidal islands form in estuaries. I was presented with many compelling accounts that made it clear to me how the four small islands that I was studying suddenly appeared in the Ord River estuary in the 1950s. This understanding was based on a concept of how sand and silt flowed up and down a tidal river called dynamic equilibrium. This concept is based on the idea that an observation at any point in time may yield a river (or any other natural system) that appears out of balance; in apparent chaos. Taking the observation over time, however, can produce a picture of the river in perfect balance; a dynamic equilibrium.

Implementing a KM program can appear the same way. In the first 6 months you may focus entirely on one initiative, such as communities of practice. A casual observer may by critical pointing out that you are giving no attention to other worthy initiatives such as expertise location or recruiting capable knowledge workers. In the short-term the system may seem out of balance but over time your knowledge program can develop its own dynamic equilibrium. Of course to achieve this equilibrium requires a designer to observe the system at multiple time scales.

Originally posted: http://radio.weblogs.com/0113975/2002/10/03.html

About  Shawn Callahan

Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on:

Comments Off on Dynamic equilibrium in a KM program