Friday 25 September 2020

50 things to do with knowledge; an analysis of verbs in KM definitions

My favourite definition of Knowledge Management is the current ISO definition - "Management with a focus on knowledge". But what activities does this management involve?

I took an online collection of 65 KM definitions (now no longer available I am afraid) and did a quick word count of the active verbs related to the management of knowledge

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

There are 50 things you can do with knowledge

This analysis tells us that we, as a collective industry,recognise a very wide set of activities releated to knowledge. More than 50 verbs are used, so there are 50 things that you can do with knowledge, that are important enough to appear in someone's definition.

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, 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. If you want to use these to create a generic definition, you could say 

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

Simple, boring, but possibly good enough.

I still prefer the current ISO definition however. 

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