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Selling KM: 101 Definitions…

In 2009 we asked the following question of academics and practitioners:
“What is your operational definition of Knowledge Management?”
We were looking for a response that married the needs of operations management, basically a statement of output, with the main functions of KM.  The result, in so far as eclecticism, was not surprising.  What was interesting was the confusion between ‘information‘ and ‘knowledge‘ in some of the responses and, in many cases,the limiting scope of the concept given through the definition.  The question I have is, which one of these would sell KM to an Executive/Senior Management Team?
To be fair, I’ll put my neck on the line and open with our own…feel free to comment!
“KM is about coordinating the organisational environment to develop value-based solutions that enable the acquisition and storage, use, sharing, and development of organisational knowledge assets; which can then be applied strategically and tactically to meet needs of innovation, capacity for change (sustainability, resilience, growth) and to inform decision-making within physical and virtual environments”
101 alternatives:
  • The storage and sharing of knowledge to the benfit of development
  • Knowledge available to the right people at the right time to  improve decision making and organizational performance.
  • We don’t use a particular definition – it depends on the situation
  • Any strategy, which may be enhanced by technology, that continuously helps people find, select, organize, and communicate important information and expertise which allows the user to make informed decisions.
  • Knowledge Management develops organizational intellectual and business resources, for the purpose of sharing and leveraging information to obtain advantage.
  • My favorite is from a colleague: The theory is to identify who needs to know what, when and where for some specific situation at a specific time, to which I’ll add that KM staff work to fulfill those needs – immediate and long term.
  • Knowledge management – or rather knowledge sharing – connects those who know with those who need to know; provides rapid answers to practical questions in a specific domain/discipline
  • 1) Getting the right information to the right people at the right time so they can use the information, and adapt/reuse it to become their own knowledge base. 2)Getting the right people who know connected to the people who need to know.
  • KM is the selection, promotion and use of appropriate tools and  techniques to improve defined knowledge-related processes within  a business.
  • By aligning people, technology, processes and  quality content KM enables organisations to develop  and prosper
  • It is a business philosophy – the means by which a company makes the most of its staff’s information, knowledge and wisdom to further its goals, using all kinds of systems, including technology, relationships & training.
  • The capability to improve an organisation’s performance by harnessing the knowledge, experience, learning and insights of its employees and stakeholders.
  • KM is connecting people to people directly or through data & information to allow (or enable) conversations that improve business performance.
  • The ability to store and reliably retrieve and enact know-how required to achieve specific goals.
  • Knowledge is a verb not a noun so it is an holisitc approach to management that applies where the key and overriding factor is the application of the human mind
  • The practice of capturing and combining data and information with the experience of experts to transfer knowledge to those undergoing a similar experience.
  • cant. km has to be defined in its context of application. km manages the knowledge of something
  • The ability to search and access information in various forms and locations supported by technology and by processes and systems. Search supported by both taxonomy and folksonomy. Collaboration systems supporting knowledge sharing – both asynchronous and online.
  • It’s about facilitating the creation and transfer of knowledge – helping people learn, structure and share what they know.
  • Practices, behaviors, methods and processes to leverage human discoveries, invention, know-how and actionable information within the context of an organization’s operations and business needs.
  • knowledge Management is a compilation of processes, tools, practices and behaviors that are directed towards intentionally identifying, capturing, sharing, enabling, and reusing tacit and explicit knowledge to innovate, make decisions, solve problems and share ideas.
  • A poorly named field of practice that attempts to define  the objects, people, processes, and technology required to create, capture, share, sustain, and forget the intellectual capital that creates value for individuals, teams, organizations and the world.
  • Knowledge Management is where people from different aspects of life come together to share a particular piece of information, present a question or insight.  After being presented, a discussion follows from interested parties, knowledge is then shared.
  • The ability to collaboratively maintain and contextualize subjective information to derive explicit knowledge which in turn allows links to access people for tacit knowledge
  • “The capabilities by which an organization an communities within capture critical knowledge,  constantly improve it and make it available in an effective manner to those who need to exploit it creatively to add value as part of their work”
  • Knowledge Management is a set of practices that help people in organizations find information they need to do their jobs together.
  • Management with attention to the value of knowledge
  • Facilitating the right knowledge, to the right people, at the right time by focusing on how†knowledge is created, captured and retrieved in order to be leveraged across an enterprise so that a corporation’s intellectual assets can be managed in alignment with strategic business needs.
  • A system to facilitate access to the cumulative knowledge available to an organisation.
  • A discipline dedicated to discovering and popularising methods for exchanging knowledge between individuals and groups to improve the outcomes of decision-making processes.
  • KM is strategic tool to exploit org knowledge
  • This is a loaded question.  It depends on who you ask what the response is going to be – what their requirements are, how they are oriented (theoretical, practical, technological, people, experience, et. al.  As you reached me via [forum hidden] you must be familiar with the astounding dialogue that transpires amongst many knowledgeable people on any given subject.
  • Sharing knowledge and experience in organisation.
  • necessary way how to come through global progress
  • a mindset that permeates the social entity layers in order to value, reuse, share, transfer and create knowledge for better entity ‘s performance, inside and/or outside coordination of incremental process by fitting better mechanisms in accordance with the context. Transfer is the ultimate aim in with we can evaluating the efficiency.
  • What do you have [inventory/classify knowledge asset (actionable/insightful information) types and repositories (subject matter experts or collections of documents/artifacts)]; why [purpose and value to the organization]; and what is it good for/put it to good use [facilitate the effective access/sharing, use/leveraging, retention/culling of these assets within and, as appropriate, beyond the organization].
  • A range of practices and technologies used in human groups to identify, create, represent, distribute,  enable and preserve adoption of insights and experiences comprising knowledge, either embodied in individuals or embedded in group processes or practices.
  • Order and hierarchy of each individual information in a corporative intelligence
  • KM is an important initiative to propel innovation, improve productivity, time to market & achieve excellence in delivery.
  • KM to my firm: gaining more money from the shared knowledge available; spend less time at work, and get more work done.
  • KM is a business process that formalizes management and leverage of a firm’s intellectual assets it empower people in an organization such that their actions enhance company’s business standing and positively impact bottom and top lines.
  • Knowledge management is essentially about facilitating the processes by which  knowledge is created, acquired, categorized, stored, shared and reused in an organization.
  • integrated system to develop human and organizational competence, aiming to expand the organization’s intellectual capital and knowledge of people
  • A system for putting human the knowledge of professionals to use in view of achieving business goals.
  • It’s the codification, sorting and storing of tacit and explicit knowledge in your organization.
  • It refers to systems of work that utilise both human and technological advances to ensure that knowledge skills and abilities are improved.
  • a system that manages the knowledge resource that it is accessible and ready for decision making and undertaking of the different activities of the organisation
  • Aggregation of information and knowledge for dissemination to interested audience
  • Knowledge Management is the discipline of enabling individuals, teams and entire organisations to collectively and systematically create, share and apply knowledge, to better achieve their objectives”
  • It is a practice that encourages team work among individuals, group in order to achieve set objectives.
  • Which of the 90+ definitions do you want?  Again very context dependent.
  • Knowledge management best defined as: the systematic processes by which knowledge needed for an organisation to succeed is created, captured, shared, and leveraged (from Idiots Guide to KM)
  • Ensuring people have access to the knowledge they need to make the right decisions, when they need it and in the right format.
  • the management techniques used to generate value from an organisaiton’s intellectual capital
  • Ensuring knowledge needed for onboarding, learning, innovation and other critical business processes is easy to find and utilize by appropriate members of an organization’s value network.
  • KM is a way of looking at business with an eye towards helping people connect with one another, based on the projects they’ve worked on, their connections to other people, and their contributions to the organization.
  • Knowledge management is the method by which people are given the ability to make judgment about data and information. Technology cannot do that but can facilitate the aggregation of data into information so that people can use their knowledge, experience, and education to make decisions and resolve issues.
  • KM can loosely be defined as a discipline that works to improve the awareness of the importance of an organizations knowledge. KM promotes appreciative behaviors such as sharing, community, and the need to capture relevant content for reuse.
  • The proactive leveraging of collective wisdom and experience to expedite innovation and decision making.
  • The ways and means by which a firm leverages its knowledge-based resources to support achievement of strategic intent.
  • it is contextual.
  • Knowledge management is the ability to identify, gather, evaluate, measure, use insights and experience gained by individuals, groups, and /or organizations. The insights and experiences are organized, categorized using multiple technologies to enabling sharing across a variety of media.
  • Knowledge management is an internal, enterprise-wide process to reuse and create knowledge in order to sustain and grow that enterprise in a timely and cost effective manner.
  • Capturing, sharing and re-using what people know and lessons learnt to help benefit the organisation
  • Develop, implement, and direct processes to capture, organize, preserve, and provide access to knowledge to enable its mobilization, integration, and use to achieve organizational goals.
  • I don’t think definitions of KM are a prerequisite for doing KM; they are too abstracted from context to be practically useful as a means of directing action. I find they are useful as a post hoc means of defining what KM means for a particular context once needs and strategies have been identified. Eg they can express what the balance between technology and people (and content) is for a particular context.
  • knowledge management is the practice associated with the justification, belief and truth of knowledge and the process that is undertaken to reach a justified, true and believed state – on a collective basis.
  • Knowledge Management is the discipline of capture, organization and distribution of information throughout an organization or community to enhance individual or collective decision efficacy and efficiency.
  • The application of what an organization knows to improve performance.
  • For me it’s about organization wide information flows and clearing “chukras”
  • In organization perspective, KM is to manage people, technology and process that allow better use of both personal and organizational knowledge through knowledge activities (such as sharing or capturing) in people’s daily works.
  • A range of behaviours and processes that facilitate learning and optimising knowledge mobilisation in organisations
  • The ability to source, analysis and structure knowledge in a systematic approach so as to improve and maintain business profit, efficiency and the overall people’s moral within an organisation.
  • The right knowledge to the right place at the right time
  • my understanding is that it is a combination of metaknowledge, raw information, coordination and trying to break out of traditional silo mentality allowing organisations to understand and utilise what they actually know and share the experience of the journey undertaken to gain that knowledge. A fact isn’t much use without context.
  • capture,organise and share knowledge within an organisation to be able to make the right decisions at the right time to achieve the desire outcomes.
  • Managing knowledge to meet organizational objectives
  • A discipline whose intent it is to ensure that people and organisations maximise the value that knowledge can contribute to them achieving their outcomes.
  • KM helps people make better informed decisions by increasing their awareness of the expertise available to them
  • Any business process that enables members of an organization to access the information they need, when and where they need it, in a context that enhances performance of specific work.
  • Is the process to understand how people organize, share and re-use knowledge.
  • Enterprise-wide knowledge management is sharing and collaboration across organization and geographic boundaries to deliver improve business performance and enhance employees’ skills.
  • A structured, systematic, deliberate, and strategic approach to effectively leveraging the skills and capabilities embedded within an organization across functional and geographic boundaries.
  • an integrated approach of creating, sharing and applying knowledge to enhance organizational productivity, profitability and growth
  • Fisrtly i don’t agree that you can manage knowledge, you can manage technology and information, but Knowledge is where people and information come together and AHA! happens.
  • Knowledge Management is the art of getting people talking. Knowledge Management is also the science of maximising the number of listeners and improving the experience for all.
  • In my current work (as knowledge manager), KM is the art, science and philosophy of making the right knowledge (insights, materials, etc.) available to the right person when it is needed.
  • I think it refers to the process of storing knowledge available to individuals within an organization so that its available for all to refer to whenever needed in the future whether the person concerned is there or not.
  • Knowledge Management is the discipline of enabling individuals, teams and entire organisations to collectively and systematically create, share and apply knowledge, to better achieve their objectives
  • KM is the essential function of harnassing the knowledge processing activity to create decisions that yield anticipated results.
  • KM is a sum of methods to increase the productivity of our business processes and therewith leading to an enhanced competitive position.
  • A strategic initiative that focuses on knowledge-intensive activities to yield substantial operational improvements.
  • KM is getting the right information to the right people at the right time. This will enable people make timely informed decisions.
  • “Manage both implicit and explicit knowledge with blending of IT & ICT”
  • Is generating new knowledge or shaping the existing one in structured, organized way to attain the organisational goal.
  • KM is managing the totality of thoughts and processes of persons acquired on ages (on/off work).

6 comments on “Selling KM: 101 Definitions…

  1. Md Santo
    July 13, 2011


    Dear David,

    Unlike Data and Information, Knowledge is consciousness and could easily treated as behaving quantum mechanical (quantum Knowledge or quantum Consciousness) like property such as “superposition traits and uncertainty principle”. Defining KM becoming difficult considering KM partially is “Scientific Knowledge” but on the other hand is “Knowledgeable Science”. Defining KM should done with intersubjective efforts because in reality “Knowledge is the edge of Science”!

    I myself preferring KM as “Knowledgeable Science”, therefore KM is better postulated by reasonable statement “WE ARE KM-REGULATED BY NATURE vice-versa BY NATURE WE ARE KM MODEL” and further we (re) define,….. Knowledge is the output of human knowing tools, evolved as emergent property, having consciousness inside human being as complex system, alive and behaving as subject with freewill. Contrary with Data and Information exist outside human being, non-alive and behaving as object only.

    Therefore we (re) define KM, say it is eclectic as follow, …..Knowledge Management (KM) essentially is not management technique but behaving more as a living access mechanisms that can be used across any management tool type such as Total Quality Management, Learning Organization (Peter Senge’s Fifth Discipline), Benchmarking, Process Classification Framework, Business Process Reengineering, Balanced Scorecard, Business Intelligence, Information Management including Social Media platforms etc. wherein each with their specific functions to be orchestrated under KM’s consciousness. So, here we put KM in incredibly broad meaning behaving as subject with higher level than any other management tool type which is treated only as object ……

    Md Santo –

  2. Shonda Kluge
    July 24, 2011

    Hey, you used to write magnificent, but the last several posts have been kinda boring… I miss your super writings. Past few posts are just a bit out of track! come on!”The smaller the understanding of the situation, the more pretentious the form of expression.” by John Romano.

    • David Griffiths
      July 24, 2011

      Thank you for the feedback… To be honest, I’ve been experimenting with the video blogs (two now posted – and they take a lot of time), trying to see if the message is clearer/stronger in video, and the ‘101 definitions’ and ‘complexity posts’ have been supplementary. Plus, I’ve been posting so many of the magazine articles that I thought it was time to try a different approach — that said, next week will see a return to ‘normal’ service with a blog on sustainability and resilience.

      Thanks again for the feedback…


  3. Pingback: KMedu Hub’s Daily Twitter Updates for 2011-07-24 | KMedu Hub - Knowledge Management education and training worldwide

  4. Pingback: Selling KM: 101 Definitions… | Theknowledgecore's Blog | Knowledge Sharing |

  5. Albert Simard
    November 3, 2011

    Over the years, I’ve gradually evolved a two-part definition of KM that won’t look familiar to many KM practitioners.

    * Knowledge Management: Developing, implementing, and operating a knowledge infrastructure that creates, manages, and uses knowledge to achieve organizational objectives.

    * Knowledge Infrastructure: People interacting, using work processes, and supported by technology, within a governance framework, to embed, advance, or extract value from knowledge.

    And on this foundation, I developed a Knowledge Agenda based on the idea of

    *Knowledge Manageability: Extent or degree to which organizational processes through which people embed, advance, or extract value from knowledge can be mandated, governed, structured, ands evaluated.

So, what do you think?

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