From my perspective, and based on my observations as I move about the knowledge services community, the attributes of the new KM are becoming clear.
Whether I’m working with clients or participating in discussions about KM and knowledge services (including quite a lot of just chatting and general conversation with pals and professional colleagues), there seems to be a kind of KM/knowledge services framework falling into place, what I’m calling “the new KM.”
Here’s what I’m seeing as this new “slant” on KM becomes part of our corporate and organizational management picture:
1. Knowledge services – the converging of information management, knowledge management, and strategic learning as a management methodology – is established or, if not established, understood to be a goal of corporate or organizational leadership.
2. Knowledge services is linked to an enterprise-wide knowledge strategy, an organizational business strategy that, as Michael Zack noted, “takes into account the company’s intellectual resources and capabilities.”
3. The various disciplines that support knowledge sharing – regardless of the specific role of the individual unit or function – are connected under one strategic knowledge “umbrella,” bringing together different perspectives that affect the organizational knowledge development/knowledge sharing (KD/KS) process. Or, if not literally “connected” yet, the company is striving to make the connection, to ensure that all organizational knowledge is accessible, preferably via a single, user-friendly platform.
4. The company recognizes and follows the lead of its knowledge thought leaders, people who – as discussed here on November 10, November 17, November 24, and November 27, 2010 – play a significant role in integrating the knowledge-sharing function into the organization’s day-to-day operations.
Some of this is not particularly new. Or particularly original. And some of these attributes were identified and given considerable attention a few years ago, when I was writing the centennial history of an association made up of strategic knowledge professionals. As I researched and described some of the association’s activities over the final two decades of its 100-year history, and as I attempted to make some predictions about the future of knowledge services as a professional discipline, it became clear to me that I was identifying an organizational “knowledge culture,” an environment or a milieu in which strategic knowledge professionals are responsible for ensuring that knowledge is shared in the workplace.
Indeed, this trend toward the development of the organizational knowledge culture has become so pervasive that at our company we built the concept into our corporate tagline: “Building the Knowledge Culture” is how we describe what we do for our clients. For us, this movement toward a new way to thinking about KM and knowledge services was that important. We wanted to live with it to such an extent that we incorporated our relationship with the knowledge culture into our work and the work we undertake for our clients.
Leading to yet another way of thinking about the new KM, to relate it to the knowledge culture, to the principles that define a company or organization as a knowledge culture and the organizational practices that support the company in that role. As a beginning, we recognize that in the knowledge culture, all staff, leadership, customers, stakeholders, and other affiliates share beliefs and values about knowledge and about the role of knowledge in the company’s work. Some of these can be identified and connected to the attributes of the new KM I’ve listed above:
1. In the company that is characterized as a knowledge culture, intellectual capital is recognized as the company’s most critical asset.
2. Collaboration – what we like to call knowledge development/knowledge sharing (KD/KS) – is a given; collaboration is expected at all levels of the organization, and collaboration and cooperation are rewarded.
3. The intellectual foundations of the knowledge culture are respected and the intellectual quest is not disdained.
4. Everyone is involved in the KD/KS process and everyone is engaged in supporting the company as a knowledge culture and benefits from their role in the knowledge culture.
5. The connection between the corporate knowledge strategy and the company’s business strategy is based on knowledge sharing, and intellectual enthusiasm supports corporate goals.
So it’s a personal approach, this journey to the new KM, but it’s not just that. My description of the new KM builds, as I say, on observations (my own observations) of many different situations and in many different environments where knowledge sharing is built into and an integral element of the corporate and organizational structure.
Now it’s time to hear what others think about this new KM. Are we there? Is there more we need to think about before we can state that we have transitioned to the new KM?