Monday 29 July 2019

The uniqueness of Knowledge Management

What makes KM unique? This post from the archives attempts to explain.

Image by dayeonge from Pixabay
Any management discipline needs to have a defined unique area of scope if it is to add value. It needs to be different enough from other disciplines, and distinct enough, that it has its own niche of operation. So what's distinct and unique about knowledge management?

Knowledge Management is a discipline that is often confused with others. Knowledge Management and information management, for example, often are confused or conflated. Knowledge Management and Training also is an area of confusion, as is KM and content management.

Here is what distinguishes KM from those other disciplines.

Knowledge Management and Information Management

Information management covers the management of all information resources, whether they are knowledge resources or not. Knowledge Management covers the management of knowledge, some of which may be codified as information. There is therefore an overlap between the two, as well as distinct areas.
  • The overlap is all codified knowledge - knowledge (ie know-how) in documented form, such as guidance, instructions, FAQs, checklists and lessons.
  • The area unique to IM is the management of all of the other (non-knowledge) information resources. 
  • The area unique to KM is the management of undocumented knowledge resources; largely done. through promoting connection between people using interventions such as Communities of Practice. 
See here for a more detailed explanation

Knowledge Management and document management/ECM

Document management is a subset of information management. Document management covers the management of electronic documents, whether they are knowledge or not. Knowledge Management covers the management of knowledge, some of which may be codified within electronic documents. As above, there is an overlap between the two, as well as distinct separate areas.

See here for what you are missing if you think KM is the same as document management

Knowledge Management and Organisational Learning

These two are very closely related, and to be honest the two could be combined. However I would suggest that Organisational Learning is the objective, and Knowledge Management is the method.

Knowledge Management and business intelligence

Business intelligence is the gathering and supply of business related data and information which can then be used for either supporting decisions, forecasting future events or discovering trends within a set of information.  Knowledge management is about the development of the know-how that allows people to make decisions, based on these (and other) data.  It s what enables an organisation to know what to do with the intelligence.

Knowledge Management and Internal Communications

Internal communications is about providing and publishing news and information to people.
Knowledge Management is about the exchange and re-use of knowledge between people.

Knowledge Management and Training

Training focuses on the developing the learning  and knowledge of the individual.
Knowledge management focuses on the developing the learning and knowledge of the organisation.

Knowledge Management and Innovation

Innovation is about creating new ideas. Knowledge Management is about testing ideas and learning from them. See here for a longer discussion about the difference between the two. 

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