Monday 13 January 2014

The Knowledge Management career path

One of our clients got in touch recently to ask if we had any good examples of organisations with a career path for their Knowledge Management professionals.

The honest answer was No, we don't have any examples, and there does not seem to be much out there on the web either in terms of real examples (please let me know via the comments if you have an example!).

I gave the topic a bit of thought, and came up with the structure below, which could serve as a first pass model.

  1. Knowledge facilitator or Knowledge engineer. Doing the basic jobs of KM, facilitating meetings, conducting interviews, facilitating a Community of Practice , Knowledge Management lead on one project, and so on. 
  2. Knowledge Manager. Managing and maintaining the KM Framework for a department or business unit, or acting as leader for a major community of practice. Single point of contact for KM for that topic or that part of the organisation. Making sure the KM work gets done. Managing or supporting the Knowledge facilitators and knowledge engineers. Acting as local champion for KM. Monitoring and reporting the degree of use of KM, and the value delivered to the business. 
  3. Knowledge Strategist. Setting the strategic direction for KM within a business unit, business stream or organisational group. Improving and developing the use of KM in support of the business, and the application of KM in the business. Working with the business to optimise KM support to the business. 
  4. Head of Knowledge Management. Setting the strategic direction for KM within the organisation. Designing any new developments of the KM Framework. Driving the corporate KM culture. Working with the executive level to optimise the way in which Knowledge Management supports the organisation.


Ana Neves said...

Hi Nick, this is interesting. I would say that this varies a lot depending on the size of the organisation. Many organisations will probably stop at "Knowledge Manager" or, if you want to look at it in a different way, will jump from #1 straight to #4 :)

If the organisation is not too big, there is probably no need to have a Knowledge Manager per business unit.

On a different note, and with the risk of stating the obvious, in multinationals it is common to find a Knowledge Managers leading a country's KM effort and reporting to the global Head of KM.

Nick Milton said...

That's right Ana, or leading a divisional KM (Head of KM for Sales, head of KM for Manufacturing, etc)

Nick Milton said...

McKinsey say this about KM career path - "We offer a range of career paths within the Knowledge Network. If you begin as a senior researcher, for example, you might choose to follow a “specialist” career path—and develop your expertise in a specific area or lead a team of researchers in a particular group. In addition to working in knowledge consulting, research, analytics, and knowledge roles, you can also find opportunities in knowledge operations helping our Knowledge Network become even better in practice management, learning, and professional development" (

Nick Milton said...

Here is a Bain and Co example - "

The Knowledge Management team collaborates with Bain's practice areas to help frontline teams benefit from the firm's content and expertise.

Individual contributor (associate/analyst): Seamlessly deliver to defined tasks and work allocation; contribute to larger case or work stream, sharing ideas on problem solving, work structuring and project management
Specialist (seasoned professional): Work as a subject matter expert and in-house specialist in a chosen domain; effectively collaborate with Bain teams to solve internal and client issues
Team leader (experienced professional): Work as a lead on a team/function, aligning on scope and priorities with internal clients/stakeholders and managing delivery along with team members' professional development

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