A fully mature KM organisation will contain several recognised KM positions in order to ensure and facilitator the creation, transfer and re-use of knowledge. Some of these are listed below. Sometimes several of these roles are combined into a single position.
Note that, in this list, I am assuming that the KM organisation is in place, so do not include any task force, or KM implementation team. I have not given names to these roles - each company seems to use a different set of names (some examples are given). Not all roles are required in every organisation - many are optional. Each company will need to do their own knowledge management organisational design - look at the list below as a series of options, not a template.
- There is one role, to monitor, champion and support Knowledge Management for the entire organisation. This can be referred to as the Chief Knowledge Officer, and this role is described here
- The CKO can lead a small team to help with the support activity. The role of that team is described here.
- There is often a senior management role to which the CKO reports, who provides steer, high level support and resource to Knowledge Management, This could be known as the management sponsor for KM.
- This sponsor could be supported by a high level steering team. The role of this team is described here.
- There can be a similar role in each business division, to monitor, champion and support Knowledge Management within that division. The Samsung version of this role is described here - they call it a Knowledge manager role, other companies call it KM Champion. In Legal firms, this role is often taken by paralegals. Our view of this role is here.
- In the US Army, there is a role within each operational unit, which is less about championing KM, and more about acting as the conduit for lessons. This role is described here, and is called the Lessons Learned Integrator.
- In project-based organisations, that run major capital projects, there may be a KM-specific role within the project itself, to monitor, champion and support Project-related KM activities (learning Before, During and after).
- The role that facilitates communication between community members on a day to day basis. This could be known as the community facilitator or moderator role.
- The role that takes ownership of the health and effectiveness of the community, and delivery of its purpose and aims. This could be known as the community leader or network leader. In smaller communities, the community leader is the same person as the facilitator.
- The management role which gives direction, steer and high level support to the community or network. This could be known as the community sponsor.
- A series of roles who support the leader, sometimes known as the community or network Core Team.
Often linked with the community are the roles associated with documented knowledge, with knowledge bases, or with areas of knowledge.
- The role who takes ownership for an area of technical knowledge, ensuring that it is well supported, well documented, that the training is in place, that the organisational capability is in place, and that knowledge on this topic is well managed. This role can be known as the practice owner, process owner, functional chief, subject matter expert, knowledge owner, technical authority, or many other names. This role is often combined with network leader, and is described here and here.
- The role of "go to" person for a topic, though without the weight of accountability described above. These are the subject matter experts in the organisation.
- People who are accountable for specific areas of online content - the content owners.
- People who are accountable for managing the entire content of knowledge bases - the cyberarians or librarians (see here).
There are other specialist roles which certain organisations may need, including the following.
- A role, or set of roles, for managing the Lesson Learned process. This could be known as the Lessons team, or (in the case of the British Army), the Lessons exploitation centre. These roles ensure lessons are collected, validated, actioned, acted on, and closed out. They are accountable for, and report on, the effectiveness of lessons learning.
- A role for collecting observations and converting these into lessons. This is sometimes referred to as an Analyst role, and is often seen in military and government organisations.
- A field role, for collecting observations and lessons, through personal observation or through interviewing or facilitating meetings such as AARs. This role can be known as a Learning Engineer, a Learning Historian, an Operational Learning team, etc.
- A role for facilitating knowledge management meeting processes, such as Peer Assist, After Action Review, and Retrospect.