Tuesday, 29 September 2015

The verbs of Knowledge Management

I posted recently an analysis of KM definitions, concentrating on the nouns. Here is an analysis of the verbs.

The idea to look at the verbs was suggested by "the other" Nick Milton in the comments to my previous blog post. I took a collection of 65 KM definitions and did a quick word count. 

Here are the results for each verb

Use                                23 appearances
Create                            17
Share                             15
Leverage                       11
Apply                            11
Improve                         11
Access                           10
Manage                           9
Capture                           7
Store                               6
Integrate                         6
Organize                         5
Generate                         5
Analyze                          5
Gather                             4
Transfer                          4
Retrieve                          4
Enhance                          4
Develop                          4

Verbs appearing 3 times - Facilitate, Optimize, Increase, review, Put, Promote
Verbs appearing 2 times - Distribute, Disseminate, Retain, Save, Acquire, Get, Exploit, Accumulate, Collect, Connect
Verbs appearing once - Guard, Grow, Expand, Cultivate, Elicit, Diffuse, Maintain, Understand, Represent, Spark, Comprehend, Formalize

What does this tell us?

It tells us that we, as a collective industry, are far less certain about what we actually do with knowledge, than we are about the knowledge itself. While I had 7 main nouns in my previous analysis, here I have over 50 verbs.  However there are some synonyms here - acquire, get, gather, collect, capture, elicit, are all to some extent synonyms.  We can therefore look at synonym clusters

Verbs associated with the application of knowledge appear 55 times
Retrieve, apply, use, access, review, exploit, understand, comprehend

Verbs associated with the improvement of knowledge, or of the KM process, appear 53 times
Leverage, manage, facilitate, grow, optimise, develop, enhance, expand, integrate, analyse, cultivate, formalise, represent, increase, improve

Sharing verbs appear 29 times
Transfer, distribute, share, diffuse, connect, promote, disseminate

Getting Verbs appear 23 times
Gather, capture, generate, capture, acquire,, get, elicit, collect

Creating verbs appear 22 times
Create, generate

Storing verbs appear 12 times
Store, guard, maintain, accumulate, retain, put, save, organize

So now we have 6 verb clusters, to go with our 7 nouns. At the moment, it seems possible to perm any combination of these into any KM definition you want, but the most generic definition from an analysis of all existing definitions seems to be

"Knowledge Management is the means of Improving the way Knowledge is Created, Acquired, Stored, Shared and Applied".

Simple, boring, but good enough.

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