So, what is Knowledge Management?

Having been working in this field for over 15 years now, I've finally got around to recording a short video which describes what's "under the umbrella" of  knowledge management!  David Gurteen has been asking people this question for years and recording their responses, but never seems to have his camera when we meet....  (at least, that's what he tells me!)It's harder than I thought - KM is such a "broad church" now, so I've done my best  to be reasonably succinct.  There are still bits which I missed, like the contribution it makes to ideas generation and innovation - but perhaps I'll leave that for another video, another time!


Here's the transcript:

Knowledge Management is a set of tools, techniques, methods, ways of working, even behaviours - that are all designed to help an organisation to be more effective.  Simple as that.

So how then does knowledge management differ from other toolkits or management movements like SixSigma or Lean?

To me the difference is that Knowledge Management focuses on the know-how and the know who – how do you put that to work more effectively in an organisation. How do you share the key points, rules of thumb? How do you ensure that the right contacts are made such that people have the conversations they need to have at the beginning of  a project, before everyone gets into action? So for that reason Knowledge management is quite a broad church of techniques and approaches (for me, that’s what makes it so interesting!).

So you could  find yourself looking at tools which help you to identify and support the networks or communities ofpractice in an organisation, ways of mapping how people are connected, ways of improvingthose connections - looking at who talks to whom, who trusts whom, and how you can optimise that.

You could equally look at how good an organisation is at learning – learning before activities, learning after activities.  How do you ensure that the lessons you capture after a project are meaningful and full of recommendations and useful actions points for somebody.

It could be about how you encourage a team to learn continuously, rather than waiting until the end of major project before they take the time to pause and reflect.

It could equally well be about how we capture knowledge such that the value can be multiplied.   How do you take a nugget or insight and capture it in such a way that people are intrigued, interested, want to read more and want to get in touch with the person who wrote it. How do you package that up in a way which doesn’t destroy all of the emotion, the context, but seems to carry it with it . Much more use of multimedia, much more use of connections to some of the social media tools, so that you’re only ever one click away from a conversation.  Finally it has a lot to do with the way we behave, the way in which we work, the culture which we establish and support or nurture, or come against as leaders in organisations. How do you come against a “Not-invented-here” culture? How do you support and make it safe for people to share their experiences and learn from those, to share their failures as well as successes?

Knowledge management encompasses all of these things, behaviours, technologies, processes. learning, networks - and for me, that’s what makes it such an exciting discipline.