Tuesday 25 April 2017

Why do one third of Knowledge Managers have no KM skills?

There are three types of Knowledge Manager on LinkedIN, and one type seems to have no Knowledge Management skills at all.

You know, on your linked-in profile, how you can build a list of skills, which people endorse you for? (see example to the right).

We all know that these endorsements can be a bit dodgy, with people endorsing other people they barely know for skills they don't know whether they have. However these skills lists at least give a rough indication of what people are professionally recognised for.

Recently, while circulating invitations to the 2017 Knowledge Management survey, I looked at the skills profiles of 200 people with Knowledge in their job title - Knowledge Managers, Heads of Knowledge Management, Knowledge and information Managers and so on (similar to a review I did of CKOs in 2015)

The results will surprise you. 

The graph above shows the placement of Knowledge Management in the Linked-in list of skills for these 200 people. I think we can see three groupings on this chart.

  1. The first group is where Knowledge Management is one of their primary skills. 60 of these people (30%) had KM as their top endorsed skill, and 92 (46%) had KM in their top 3 skills. These, I suggest, are the professional Knowledge Managers.
  2. The second group - a smaller group - is where KM is one of the top 10 skills, but not in the top 3.  The small peak at 7 in the graph above was consistent as the dataset grew, and there seems to be a group of people who have developed KM skills, but as a secondary skillset. They retain their core skillset, and have added KM. For example, these are the lawyers whose top skills are Law, Employment Law, Contract Law etc, with KM as number 6 or 7. Or the oil-field KMers with top skills in Petroleum Engineering, Drilling, Oil Shales etc, with KM at number 7 or 8. These, I suspect, are the temporary knowledge managers - either tasked with managing knowledge about a particular topic, or with a KM job to do, but not with a long term career in Knowledge Management.
  3. The third group are the ones I find the most puzzling. They have a Knowledge Management job title, but Knowledge Management is either way way down near the bottom of the skill list (31 people) or does not appear on their list of skills at all (37 people). These 68 people, representing over a third of the dataset (34%), seem to have a KM job title but effectively no KM skills. 
How can this be?  You would not have a job as a project manager with no project management skills, or an HR manager with no HR skills, or a Finance manager with no Financial skills. 

Looking a bit deeper, I think these are the people who may actually have non-KM jobs, but have been given a Knowledge Management job title

Here are 3 examples of the skillsets they Do have, which suggest that they are maybe not playing a Knowledge manager role.

  1. Information Management, SharePoint, Content Management, Document Management (an information manager rebadged as a Knowledge Manager?)
  2. Communication, PR, Client Satisfaction, Marketing (a marketing manager rebadged as a Knowledge Manager?)
  3. HR, Talent Management, Onboarding, Recruiting, Leadership development (an HR manager rebadged as a Knowledge manager?)

Now I know there is no accepted definition of Knowledge Management, and that anyone can call themselves a Knowledge Manager if they want to, and that my interpretation of the third group may be my own prejudice, but I still think that if you have a Knowledge Manager with no Knowledge Management skills, then something is wrong.

Either there is an unskilled person in a KM post, or its not really a KM post at all. 

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