Wednesday 29 October 2014

What do KM professionals actually do?

The Word Cloud shown below is derived from linked-in job descriptions of 40 people with "knowledge Management in their job title, as an attempt to analyse the way KMers describe their job. 

It's an interesting plot, but becomes even more interesting when we contrast those KMers from legal firms, with those who aren't. 

Total word cloud

First, the main cloud, shown above. I created this by choosing at random 40 of my linked-in connections who had "knowledge management" in their job title, and who gave a detailed description of their main tasks or activities. 

20 of these people were from legal firms, 20 were not. All were from the UK and US.  

I copied their current job description, and pasted the aggregated text into  The words which are displayed in the plot above are those which were most commonly used (excluding prepositions etc), and the size of the word is proportional to the number of times it appeared. 

So what does this tell us?

  • Obviously, knowledge is at the heart of the job, and management as well.
  • Business, Development, Strategy, Systems and Support are common words, reflecting the common need to support the business, and develop KM strategies and systems
  • Management is a more frequently used word than Sharing (although this may be because I chose people with a "Knowledge Management" title and not a "Knowledge Sharing" title
  • Information is a prominent word - we still have this blurring of confusion between information and knowledge
  • Practice/processes and technology appear - so two of the 4 table-legs of KM are present. As we know, governance and roles are frequently ignored.
  • It's good to see Collaboration and Communities in there, also learning and experience.
Now let's compare clouds for the people who work in legal KM, and those who don't.
Word cloud for legal KM job descriptions

Non-legal word cloud

There are a number of words that appear in the legal word cloud but not in the non-legal cloud. 
  • Firm, 
  • Intranet, 
  • Law, 
  • Legal, 
  • Library, 
  • Records, 
  • Research, 
  • SharePoint
Here's some of the words that appear in the non-legal word cloud but not in the legal cloud
  • Change, 
  • Engineering, 
  • Experience, 
  • Improving, 
  • Learning, 
  • Network, 
  • Organisational, 
  • People, 
  • Social
There are still a lot of words that appear in both clouds, but you can see two distinct flavours of KM here. Legal KM has a greater focus on records management, use of SharePoint, library techniques, and research (the word Content is also much bigger in the legal cloud). 

Non-legal KM has a greater focus on continuously improving, on organisational learning from experience, and from networking people into social communities (the word Communities is also bigger in the non-legal cloud).

The legal KM flavour is largely driven by the nature of the legal business, and the focus on specialist product, but there is still room for some of the non-legal KM components to begin to be developed in the legal sphere as well. 

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