Friday, 7 October 2016

Knowledge principles for government

Here is a really interesting document on Knowledge Principles for the UK Government.

One of the first hurdles to get across when dealing with KM is to help people understand that knowledge and information are different, and need to be treated differently. This step is needed to head off the common, and futile, tendency to try to deliver Knowledge Management through Information Management tools.

In my experience, the UK Public sector has not really grasped this distinction in past years. many of their strategies and approaches have involved lumping KM and IM together, for example developing a KIM profession.

That is why it is so interesting to see a governmental body going back to basics, and asking "What's different about knowledge." The writers intend that these Principles will be used by departments to inform discussions on Knowledge and form the central tenet of their Knowledge Strategies (a set of Information Principles exist already).

It is worth reading the whole document, but in summary the principles are these.

1. Knowledge is a valued asset. If knowledge is not valued, KM will not attract the level of resource required for success.  
2: Knowledge needs the right environment in order to thrive. Whereas Information Management has tangible items to manage, KM relates to the intangible substance of a person or organisation’s awareness. Managing knowledge, therefore, is about working with people to create an environment where their knowledge is given freely and where they are supported and encouraged to share with and learn from others. 
3: Knowledge is captured where necessary and possible. Large and geographically dispersed organisations are unlikely to consistently share knowledge face to face. In order for knowledge to be fully exploited and contribute to the benefit of the organisation, it must be nurtured and readily accessible. This involves structured knowledge elicitation techniques such as retention interviews.  
4: Knowledge is freely sought and shared. This requires techniques to socialise learning (eg through the concept of Communities of Practice); the application of social business software; and mentoring programmes. 
5: Knowledge increases in value through re-use. The advantage of making knowledge widely available is that organisations can exploit it to avoid re-work, avoid repetition of bad practice / mistakes, and improve processes / ways of working. In this sense, knowledge increases its value by delivering benefit through sharing and re-use.  
6: Knowledge underpins individual learning 
7: Knowledge underpins organisational learning.  Principles 6 and 7 build on the preceding ones as the foundation for individual and organisational learning, exploiting knowledge at both the individual and organisational level to become more effective and efficient, increase capability and achieve greater impact. 

I like these principles, and hope they will leads the government towards developing Knowledge Management strategies that are really about Knowledge Management, and not information Management under a different name.


Eli Miron said...

The Israeli Government published a "KM principles Guide" about a year ago (in Hebrew)

Kent Greenes said...

Eli, any ideas for getting an English translation of this? My Hebrew is limited to understanding prayers for the holy holidays!

Happy new year,

Kent Greenes said...


Nicely put. After all these years putting KM into practice it's clear to me organizations need better IM. But that's simply not the same as KM and going back to basics really helps clarify the differences.

Thanks for this,

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