Wednesday 18 April 2018

Roles in the Knowledge Management organisation

In another updated reprise post from the archives, let's look at typical roles in the KM organisation.

As we pointed out earlier this week, the issue of Roles is an often-neglected part of the KM Framework. A fully mature KM organisation will contain several recognised KM positions in order to ensure and facilitator the creation, transfer and re-use of knowledge. Some of these are listed below. Sometimes several of these roles are combined into a single position.

Note that, in this list, I am assuming that the KM organisation is in place, so do not include any task force, or KM implementation team. I have not given names to these roles - each company seems to use a different set of names (some examples are given). Not all roles are required in every organisation - many are optional. Each company will need to do their own knowledge management organisational design - look at the list below as a series of options, not a template.

  • There is one role, to monitor, champion and support Knowledge Management for the entire organisation. This can be referred to as the Chief Knowledge Officer, and the CKO role is described here
  • There is often a senior management role to which the CKO reports, who provides steer, high level support and resource to Knowledge Management, This could  be known as the management sponsor for KM. The KM sponsor role is described here
  • There can be a similar role in each business division, to monitor, champion and support Knowledge Management within that division. The Samsung version of this role is described here - they call it a Knowledge manager role, other companies call it KM Champion. In Legal firms, this role is often taken by paralegals. Our view of the Knowledge Manager role is here
  • In project-based organisations, that run major capital projects, there may be a KM-specific role within the project itself, to monitor, champion and support Project-related KM activities (learning Before, During and after).

The Communities of Practice, or Social networks also require roles, with a whole variety of names (here are 32 options). These include the following.

  • The role that facilitates communication between community members on a day to day basis. This could be known as the community facilitator or moderator role.
  • The role that takes ownership of the health and effectiveness of the community, and delivery of its purpose and aims. This could be known as the community leader or network leader. In smaller communities, the community leader is the same person as the facilitator.
  • The management role which gives direction, steer and high level support to the community or network. This could be known as the community sponsor.
  • A series of roles who support the leader, sometimes known as the community or network Core Team.

Often linked with the community are the roles associated with documented knowledge, with knowledge bases, or with areas of knowledge.
  • The role who takes ownership for an area of technical knowledge, ensuring that it is well supported, well documented, that the training is in place, that the organisational capability is in place, and that knowledge on this topic is well managed. This role can be known as the practice owner, process owner, functional chief, subject matter expert, knowledge owner, technical authority, or many other names. This role is often combined with network leader, and the process owner role is described here and here.
  • The role of "go to" person for a topic, though without the weight of accountability described above. These are the subject matter experts in the organisation.
  • People who are accountable for specific areas of online content - the content owners.
  • People who are accountable for managing or supporting the content of knowledge bases - the cyberarians or librarians or content management support roles (see here).

There are other specialist roles which certain organisations may need, including the following.
  • A role to support the KM technology
  • A role, or set of roles, for managing the Lesson Learned process.  This could be known as the Lessons Management team, or (in the case of the British Army), the Lessons exploitation centre. These roles ensure lessons are collected, validated, actioned, acted on, and closed out. They are accountable for, and report on, the effectiveness of lessons learning.
  • A role for collecting observations and converting these into lessons. This is sometimes referred to as an Analyst role, and is often seen in military and government organisations.
  • A field role, for collecting observations and lessons, through personal observation or through interviewing or facilitating meetings such as AARs. This role can be known as a Learning Engineer, a Learning Historian, an Operational Learning team, etc.

In our 2014/2017 KM surveys we got the following responses when we asked respondents whether the following KM support roles existed in their organisation. 

Supporting role
# of responses
KM Technology support
Content Management support
Community of Practice leader
Knowledge Manager for a department or division
"Owner" for a specific knowledge topic
Knowledge Management Champion
Community of Practice facilitator (in addition to leader)
Knowledge Manager for a specific project
No other roles
Other (please specify)

The graph at the top of the page shows the prevalence of these roles depending on organisational size. Respondents provided the following under the "Other" category:

Center of excellence, 
All the work is done under a generic role, 
Business Analyst, 
Business intelligence, 
Business process management; 
product management, 
Chief Innovation Officer, 
Competitive Intelligence, 
Content Management Director, 
Continuous Improvement Facilitator, 
COP leader and KM champion are not funded roles, 
CoP leader and KM for a dept or division, 
Director of KM, 
Education Manager (cooperation with external entities), 
enterprise content mgmt, 
event management, 
Fire Science interpretation officers , 
Head of research and analysis and KM, 
Information Center Management , 
Information Management and Governance, 
Information Management Centre, 
part of Digital Services, 
Information management division ( around 30 people), 
Innovation Program, 
KM Admins, 
KM Coordinator for the organisation, 
KM Internal Consultant responsible for KM Service, 
KM officer to support Knowledge Manager, 
KM Policy Lead, 
KM link to programs, 
KM Practitioners, 
Knowledge Management Ambassadors, 
Knowledge Specialist, 
Leader for "Learning from Experience" (learning about what we are doing well, doing wrong, etc, 
meeting host (rolling position in CoP membership), 
Not particular, 
on Consumer Market Insights role , 
Paralegal support, 
part-time KM engineer, 
Professional Support Lawyer, 
Professional development lawyer, 
Professional Support Lawyer - lawyer in each Group who champions KM, 
Regional Knowledge Management Advisors, 
roles related to some sort of knowledge management - e.g. audit/quality etc, setting practice stds for professional agrologists, 
Several of these roles are under definition, 
Site Champion (intranet), 
some service lines hold their separate Knowledge sharing and training teams that do not report to Global KM, 
Team and sector Knowledge Lawyers, 
The team is being build., 
Training Leader / Training Analyst,

Are there additional KM roles in your organisation?

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