Amaretto or Cognac – Which Tastes Better in Tiramisu?

I figure there are probably lots of recipes an how to make a good tiramisu but after an Italian meal and my run-down of the ingredients and how easy it was to make, Patrick chipped in and said “amaretto”. I said I used cognac.

So, what has this got to do with knowledge management? Well nothing directly, except that it made me google “tiramisu recipe” and the first return caught my eye, as I’m sure it would yours – and led me to some interesting discoveries.

My little research project into recipes for tiramisu led to me to discover that there are basic tiramisu recipes and then there are varieties. However, even within the basic recipes, some tiramisus have their eggs cooked, others don’t, some whisk the egg yolks and beat the egg whites, while some beat the egg yolks and whisk the egg whites, some use baking soda, some use chocolate and for the oomph – some use amaretto, some cognac, some coffee-flavoured liqueur, some kahlua, some white rum and some wine! One thing’s for sure though – they all use mascarpone cheese and coffee, for what is tiramisu without these. So, is there a best practice recipe for tiramisu? Seems not.

Knowledge management and knowledge work (Peter Garas shares an article on actKM) is a lot like that. There is no standard definition, yes after all this time, but that has not stopped the KM community and other stakeholders attempting to arrive at one. Many have contributed definitions and believe that theirs is the “truth and nothing but the truth”. These definitions have come in variations of process/action-based definitions, outcome-based definitions, customer-focused ones, people-oriented ones and occasionally although thankfully to a lesser degree now, the microscopic “information at your fingertips” one.

I think that some ingredients in KM are just standard stuff you need to have, like the mascarpone and the coffee in tiramisu, the other bits are a matter of tastes. It’s therefore a question of where you want to lean in putting together the dessert. Dave Snowden in a recent comment on the actKM forum, valiantly remarked that KM as a discipline is on its way out because the different organizational “frontiers” are already taking up the challenge from their various corners (someone correct me if I misunderstood). I agree that the troops are being mobilised on the various fronts but see it as a reinforcing sign that KM is here to stay. However, in addressing each of these various fronts, I would vary the definition of KM and knowledge work without straying from the base ingredients to suit the orientation of the audience. If it is understanding that we want them to have, then what is wrong with “tweaking” orientations to definitions to enable understanding, provided the basic underlying ingredients remain unchanged.

I think the real question to answer is what is the “mascarpone and coffee” for KM? What are the basic ingredients that remain irrespective of what the definition sounds like? My personal favourites are “people” and “decisions”.

Back to the tiramisu – to Patrick – if Kevin Twohy is anything to go by, he said “I wanted to take a Tiramisu to school for my class to celebrate my 17th birthday. Mom said it’d be better to have a recipe with cooked eggs and little alcohol (good on her given that they’re a bunch of 17 year-olds!). So we tried a few recipes and came up with this combination. My classmates raved about it and I liked the extra flavors of hazelnut and Amaretto, which replaced the bite of the usual brandy. I think it’s the best recipe ever!” So, it seems amaretto may less stinging afteralll… although I still prefer the cognac.

Hope you enjoyed the treat!

1 Comment so far

Just to clarify - I think KM as a Label is going to end up as sub set of the IT department - that is already taking place.  The KM agenda will continue but under other names.  The strategic side is I think moving to sense-making, It will last longer in Asia, but you can see the signs in the US and Europe.

Posted on August 03, 2006 at 03:50 PM | Comment permalink

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