Friday 13 March 2015

The 2 main types of KM roles

I have been putting together a presentation for a client on KM roles, and the KIM career path. It struck me, as I was compiling the slides, that there are two types of KM roles in an organisation; one take by business staff but with a KM focus, and one taken by KM staff, with a business focus. 

The business roles are focused on the business outcome which KM supports, while the KM roles focus on the effective operation of the KM processes.

For example, lets look at roles in the project organisation. 

There is a role we could call the Business Knowledge manager or Business Knowledge Champion for an area of the business such as a department, a division or a project.

This person owns and implements the KM plan or strategy for that area of the business.   They
  • ensure the KM expectations are met, 
  • that the processes happen, 
  • and that KM works for the benefit of the business. 

They don't conduct KM processes themselves, but they ensure KM processes are conducted. In my experience, this is a role owned by a business person, and they may also own risk management, quality management or another parallel discipline.

Then there is a role which supports this person, which we could call the business knowledge facilitator.

This role is sometimes known as a learning engineer, or a learning historian, and is a role for a practitioner with KM skills. I would suggest we could call this a KM role.

In the Communities of Practice there is a similar distinction between business roles and KM roles.

The CoP leader role, for example

  • provides overall leadership and direction to the CoP, 
  • works together with the community sponsor to develop community objectives,
  • works with the core community team to develop plans to deliver the objectives,
  • coordinates & follows up the activities of the community, 
  • ensures that the community successfully delivers its goals, and 
  • sets the leadership style of the community

The CoP leader is often supported by a community facilitator, who

  • ensures effective transfer of knowledge among the community members through facilitation of online discussion and face to face meetings 
  • ensures new knowledge is captured and shared 
  • maintains energy and commitment in the community 
  • ensures the knowledge assets are built and maintained, and
  • maintains the community site

The CoP leader is usually a business role, while the CoP facilitator (who has a much greater emphasis on the mechanics of knowledge transfer within the CoP) could be considered a KM role.

Finally we can look at the issues of the ownership and the maintenance of the organisational knowledge. Here again we have a business role and (in this case two separate) facilitating KM roles. The business role is the Knowledge Owner or Subject Matter expert. This role

  • “owns and manages” an area of critical knowledge for the company
  • monitors the state of knowledge 
  • keeps the knowledge base up to date 
  • validates new knowledge 
  • broadcasts new knowledge 
  •  plays a strong role in the community or network

They may be supported by one or both of the following KM roles, which again focus on the mechanics of knowledge management rather than the business content of the knowledge.

The role of the knowledge base facilitator, or cyberarian, is to
  • determine the customer base of the online library or knowledge base, 
  • carry out market research into customer needs,
  • work with the SMEs to develop and maintain a structure for the online library 
  • work with the SMEs to develop processes for refreshing and renewing content and for removing old material 
  • monitor these processes, prompting for compliance as required 
  • provide a help-desk service to users of the online library, and 
  • provide coaching in the use of online tools and the search engine
The role of the Lessons Learned manager is to

  • support the lesson learned process 
  • analyse, action and communicate lessons
  • support LL Information Sharing via databases, websites, reports, newsletters, etc. 
  • look for recurring lessons and common threads
  • support the LL Community
  • set up or improve the organization’s LL capability.

So as the diagram above shows, at each level we can see a business role with KM as a focus, supported by a facilitative KM role with a business focus.

The KM facilitation roles bring the KM skills and knowledge of KM theory and process, while the business KM roles bring the business objectives and the business context.

1 comment:

Hendri Ma'ruf said...

As I read the article, I sighed. At last, the role of (KM) facilitator is raised here. Even nicer is that the discussion touches both business knowledge facilitator and knowledge base facilitator. Very nice to know, and thank you Mr Milton.

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