I can’t begin my blog without defining KM:
“Knowledge Management is a strategy (or practice) that… promotes creation and sharing, and enhances the use of knowledge in order to improve organizational performance” (Rus, Lindvall and Sachin: A State of the Art Report: Knowledge Management in Software Engineering, 2001).
I stress the goal (“..in order to improve organizational “), to remind all of us that we’re doing KM as an enabler of greater organizational causes.
One of the first things I did after realizing my new role in SAP (back in 2003) was Knowledge Management, was to try and visualize the KM ecosystem. This is what I got:
Since then, as the manager of KM in the Small Business unit, I gathered some experience in various aspects of KM, and in this blog I’d like to share with you my thoughts about the different components of the KM ecosystem.
The fundamental level is, as the diagram suggests, the Knowledge Culture. For SDN members this might be trivial to have a culture of learning and knowledge sharing, but it turns out that the biggest obstacle for KM implementation (in the broader notion) is the cultural one. I’ll refer to the components of the knowledge culture in future blogs in greater detail.
If the basis is OK, we can move on and provide Knowledge Services. As you can see – in my conceptual map Content Management (with Document Management, Web Content Management and so on) is only one type – even if a very important one – of a knowledge service.
The heart of KM, I believe, is what I call Knowledge Embedding (sometimes referred to as Knowledge in Context). Knowledge Embedding aims at collecting, creating and providing knowledge in the regular organizational business processes, and within the daily work tools and environments.
Just to make this point clear, let’s look at a piece of knowledge stored in a portal iView. In order to consume this knowledge, the average user (usually working with MS Office, ERP, an IDE of some kind, or the like) needs to switch the context of her work, turn to another application (that’s the portal) and start looking for the knowledge. This is a very unfortunate situation, which takes a lot of time and attention from the user, and which is very inefficient for the organization.
In one of my next posts I’ll describe Knowledge Embedding in depth, and provide you with examples of Knowledge Embedding that really work, overcoming the pitfalls of traditional, non-embedded knowledge services.