Instead of defining KM from first principles, lets use some big data to characterise the topic.
The data come from LinkedIn again (as this is one of the few available global datasets which allows us to investigate KM as a discipline) and the investigation is into the clusters of skills-based topics, to see where KM sits in terms of analogous disciplines.
The answer is that KM sits with Knowledge Transfer, Knowledge Sharing, Lessons Learned and Communities of Practice as a cluster of skills associated with project management, change management and leadership. It is loosely associated with organisational learning, and not really associated at all (in terms of LinkedIn skills affinity) with social media, social networking, and content management.
|LinkedIn screenshot of the Knowledge Management skill|
- How many people on LinkedIn with that skill
- The 10 most common associated skills, in order of appearance
- The 10 organisations with most people having this skill
- Where these people went to college.
I did an analysis last month about the 10 organisations with the most KM skills, but today am looking at the other associated skills.
I looked at KM, and also at 9 other similar skill areas or disciplines which you might associate with KM. I could find no skill area for "collaboration" on LinkedIn, only "collaboration solutions", and I could find no skill area for "Best Practice development". There are undoubtedly skills I should have included, so please fill in any gaps!
The answers are in the table below.
|Discipline/skill||Number of people in LinkedIn with this skill||Top 10 associated skills||Companies that most employ this skill (summary)|
|Knowledge Management||331,000||Project mgt, management, change mgt, program mgt, leadership, research, strategic planning, business analysis, strategy, MS Office||Consultancies, IT, Military|
|Social media||14,500,000||MS Office, customer service, public speaking, Excel, marketing, Word, PowerPoint, event planning, research, management||Mostly freelance|
|Social networking||4,400,000||Social media, customer service, MS Office, public speaking, event planning, marketing, social media marketing, leadership, PR, Excel||Overwhelmingly freelance|
|Content management||943,000||Social media, editing, copywriting, blogging, social media marketing, publishing, content strategy, copy editing, digital media, editorial||Freelance, publishing, various|
|Knowledge Transfer||134,000||Project mgt, management, research, change mgt, KM, leadership, MS Office, training, team leadership, strategic planning||Consultancies, IT|
|Knowledge sharing||116,000||Project mgt, management, KM, customer service, MS Office, leadership, team leadership, training, research, teamwork||Consultancies, IT, Military, World Bank|
|Lessons learned||106,500||Project mgt, project planning, change mgt, program mgt, management, risk mgt, process improvement, leadership, MS project, MS Office||Military, manufacturing, Oil, IT|
|Organizational learning||46,000||Org development, training, leadership dev, change mgt, leadership, coaching, management, workshop facilitation, performance mgt, training||Consulting, Oil|
|Collaboration solutions||26,000||Management, cloud computing, project mgt, solution selling, leadership, unified comms, SAAS, enterprise software, sales, integration||Consulting, IT|
|Community of practice||23,000||KM, project mgt, change mgt, management, program mgt, strategy, training, leadership, research, IM||Aid and Development, Consulting|
AnalysisLet's assume that similar disciplines have similar associated skills. Therefore the disciplines which have the most associated skills in common are most likely to be similar in the way they are approached and applied, in that they will be applied by people with similar skillsets.
The pictures below show the commonalities between the disciplines in their 1) top 5 skills, and 2) top 10 skills. So Knowledge Management and Communities of Practice have 5 out of 5 top skills in common (project management, change management, management, program management, and an extra point for knowledge management itself) and 8 out of the top 10 skills in common. Knowledge Management and social networking, on the other hand, share only one top-10 skill (leadership).
I provide the two plots as a cross-check.
Results.There is a strong clustering of common skills between KM, Knowledge Transfer, Knowledge Sharing, Lessons Learned and Communities of Practice. Of this group, knowledge sharing shares the fewest common skills with the others.
Organizational learning and collaboration solutions are less well linked into this cluster.
Social media and Social Networking are linked to each other, but not really to anything else.
Content management, as the term is used in LinkedIn, is not associated with the KM cluster in terms of common associated skills (being associated mostly with editing), and is only very loosely with social media and networking.
ConclusionsNone of this proves anything of course, but I think we can assert that there is a body of practice which covers a certain set of skills that seem to be held by a certain type of person, which we can put under a KM heading. This body of practice can be variously called KM, Knowledge Transfer, Knowledge Sharing, Lessons Learned and Communities of Practice, and it is practiced by people with management skills (Project management, management, change management, program management, leadership, strategic planning, business analysis, strategy).
Currently this seems to be a different group of practitioners from those who practice what LinkedIn users call Content Management, Social Media or Social Networking.