E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

The Essence of Knowledge Management

I am not sure if you folks would be subscribed to the mailing list from the superb Knowledge Management community over at actKM but just in case you may not be I strongly suggest you sign up and join that community because for the last few months there have been some incredible discussions taking place around the world of KM.

One of the latest ones, and one that also comes very close home, is the recent discussion thread on The Essence of Knowledge Management where folks are actually venturing into putting together what Knowledge Management is in just a (short) sentence.

Yes, I know what you are going to say. No way you could do that ! Well, there are plenty of folks who have ventured into providing a good, short definition of what Knowledge Management is. I know for myself that I wouldn’t be able to come up with one just like that since every time that I have ventured to do so I end up adding much more than what was required in the first place, thus in the end I give up. If people ask me what I do for a living I have got a tendency to take a couple of minutes to try to explain what it is and as soon as I get to see people’s faces looking strange that is when I know I need to stop.

Either way, since I, too, have always had some difficulty in coming up with a short definition of what KM is all about I thought I would create this particular weblog post and share with you some of the definitions that people have been sharing so far. And as time goes by, if more of them come up I will be adding them up into this weblog post. One thing though the attached quotes are actually definitions that I would feel comfortable with because they related to the same concept that I have myself about KM, thus if you are part of the mailing list and do not see a particular quote that is because it didn’t strike me as good enough for me, which is what we should all be doing at the end of the day, look for a definition of KM that would work for you so that you can then convince others about it. Thus without any further delay here you have got some of my favourite definitions so far:

We always know more than we can tell, we can always tell more than we can write down. Knowledge Management is not just about the things we can write down, its also about the stories we tell and the stuff we know but can never articulate in any way.” by Dave Snowden. Does it ring a bell ?

KM is a systematic process of connecting people to people and people to the knowledge and information they need to act effectively and create new knowledge” by Mark Schenk (From Anecdote), taken from Carla O’Dell, The Executive’s Role in Knowledge Management

Knowledge management is a business process that connects people to people and people to information for competitive advantage and better decision making.” by Kaye Vivian (A slight variation from Carla’s quote mentioned above that I particularly like)

Knowledge management helps people learn, to use the new knowledge they acquire through learning, to share what they know when appropriate, and to help create knowledgeable communities of work mates, colleagues, and friends. It is concerned with innovation, managing complexity and ambiguity, forming and using knowledge networks and connections, sharing behaviours, and utilising people-centric technologies” by Ron Robinson (I like the learning aspect put together by Ron on this one, since I have always believed that KM and Learning walk hand in hand all along)

And, finally, perhaps the one definition of them all that I feel the most comfortable with thus far. It is coming from Denham Grey and you can find it as well over at the KMBloggers community wiki space KMWiki:

“A practice concerned with increasing awareness, fostering learning, speeding collaboration & innovation and exchanging insights. There is a delicate balance to be maintained between explicit and tacit, between personal and community, between collecting assets and enabling flows, between looking inward and externally, between mining and capturing insights and building on shared experiences.”

That one indeed I feel that it captures the true nature of KM as being related to learning, collaboration, innovation, knowledge sharing and confirming that there should be a balance between explicit and tacit knowledge, between personal and communities, amongst other things. But instead of me telling you all about it let me suggest you take a look into Denham’s recent weblog post on the subject where he actually explains a whole lot more in detail that particular definition: The essence of KM?.

I think that I may have finally found a definition that I would feel comfortable with whenever I would need to describe what I do for work. What do you think ? Have you found yours? Dare to come up with your own ?

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