What is Knowledge Management?

Share it with your friends Like

Thanks! Share it with your friends!


Knowledge Management Consultant, Chris Collison defines knowledge management, and explains the breadth of tools and techniques which underpin this discipline.


What is knowledge management?

Knowledge management is a set of tools, techniques, methods, ways of working, and desired behaviours which help an organization to be more effective.

It is different from other improvement toolkits and management movements like Six Sigma or LEAN Manufacturing because it focuses much more on “know how” and the “know who”.

How do you put that to work more effectively in an organization?
How do you share the key points, nuggets and “rules of thumb”?
How do you ensure that the right contacts are made such that people have the right conversations they need to have at the beginning of the project, before everyone gets into action?

This is why Knowledge Management is quite a “broad church” of techniques and approaches – and is getting broader every year.

So what kind of activities might I become involved with if I’m a Knowledge manager?

You could find yourself exploring tools to identify and support the networks in an organization; networks or communities of practice; ways of mapping how people are connected, ways of improving these connections, looking for who talks to who, who trusts who and how you can optimize that.

You could look at how good an organization is at learning before activities, learning after activities. How do you ensure that the lessons you capture after the projects are meaningful, are full of recommendations, useful action points for somebody?

You may need to encourage teams to learn continuously, during activities rather than waiting until the end of a major project before they take the time to pause and reflect and learn.

It could equally well be about how to capture knowledge such the value can be multiplied. How do you take a “nugget” or insight and capture it in such a way the people are intrigued, interested and want to get in touch with the person who wrote it? How do you package in a way it doesn’t destroy all of the emotion, all of the context, but seems to carry it with it? This will involve the increased use of multimedia, much more use of connections to some of the social media so that you’re only ever one click away from a conversation.

Finally it has a lot to do with the way that we behave, the way that we work, the culture which we establish and support and nurture – or come against, as leaders in an organisation. You may need to confront a “not invented here” culture, to support and make it safe for people to share their experiences (failures as well as successes) and desirable to learn from those of others.

Knowledge management encompasses all of these areas: behaviours, processes, technologies, learning and networks. This is what makes it an exciting and constantly evolving discipline.


Shima Mahdavi says:

یک فایل تصویری در خصوص اینکه؛ “مدیریت دانش چیست؟” به عنوان مدخل مدیریت دانش
برای کسانی که اطلاع چندانی ندارند مناسب است

Kate Smith says:

Have you read the interactive transcript? Has lost something in
translation! Doesn’t cope well with speaker’s accent.

Chris Collison says:

Thanks! Yes, I guess you could say that much of knowledge management *is*
common sense – but that doesn’t mean that it’s common practice! So there’s
still plenty to do in helping organisations to work smarter…

Chris Collison says:

Well, there are two that I wrote with Geoff Parcell – “Learning to Fly” and
“No More Consultants” (but that’s a bit self-congratulatory!) Naturally it
all depends what you’re looking for, but I’d also recommend: Common
Knowledge (Nancy Dixon), Digital Habitats (Wenger, White & Smith),
Knowledge Works (Van WInkelen & Mackenzie), Explorations in Information
Space (Boisot), Working Knowledge (Davenport & Prusak), Collaborative
Advantage (Lank) and The New Edge in Knowledge (O’Dell & Hubert).

Chris Collison says:

OK – just don’t tell your teacher! ;O) i) It makes sense for project teams
to take time to learn from other projects before they start -because it
might save time, reduce risk, avoid problems. That’s common sense. But it’s
not common practice. Why? Because every project likes to think it’s unique,
or contacts from other projects are hard to find, lessons aren’t captured,
or are captured in a way which isn’t useful. ii) It makes sense that people
ask for help when they don’t know (contd)

Chris Collison says:

There are some interesting KM books on there out there too Aleks! :O)

santiago021 says:

Finally a good explanation of something that is often explained as some
obscure science. Which is absurd considering the subject ! Thank you

Mramir20001 says:


Chris Collison says:

@devinconway11 Thanks Devin!

Chris Collison says:

…something, and it makes sense for people to offer up solutions to
problems, because one day, they might need help. Is it common practice? Not
in many cultures. People feel that asking for help is a sign of weakness,
they lose face… or people don’t want to respond because they fear that it
will cost them more time to provide further information. (see my videos on
KM and Barriers to sharing). So these examples are logical – they make
sense to organisations – but not always to individuals!

Gio Chammy says:

excuse me sir..i appreciate your work but there are some kind of words that
i didnt get like “broad church”, “rules of thumb” I want to know about that
because my topic for my report is all about knowledge mngt. please help

Chris Collison says:

Just added a transcript to the description. Hope it helps… Chris

oneblackgeye says:

I agree with all of the other comments. Which begs the question as to why
most definitions seem to intentionally go out of their way to make this so
hard to understand. There has to be some practical intent behind this or
maybe it was a mistaken tipping of the hand about an insider strategy used
to filter and manipulate people and groups within a cooperate (money
making) setting. Hmmm

dipablo dee says:

hello chris, one word wow, u are great thank you. one question, is
knowledge management common sense. thank you

AleksejsMedvedevs says:

Really good explanation, I don’t even need to read boring book. Thanks

Chris Collison says:

Hi Kateroo58 – thanks for letting me know! I’ve uploaded a replacement
transcript, Technology still has a way to go!

Collectables Ent. says:

great, thanks

Chris Collison says:

Hi Gio, Sorry – those words don’t translate well internationally. Thank you
for asking for clarification. You could interpret “broad church” as “large
umbrella which covers a number of techniques”. Rules of thumb” means “rules
and assumptions which are generally correct”. So I have a “rule of thumb”
for air travel which is that I always clear security an hour before my
flight. Some people leave less time, but I find this rule generally works
well for me. I hope that makes helps!

pedritto07 says:

please, could you write audio transcribe? I understand most of it, but some
parts are difficult to hear (i´m not english-native speaker). thanks a lot!

dipablo dee says:

hallo chris. u are much better than my teacher i m actually learning from u
than my teacher. thank you. would u able to come two cases that knowledge
management is common sense managing, and when it does not make sense
managing. than you.

N1990h says:

good jop

devinconway11 says:

you explained it very well thanks!!!!!

austin islam says:


AleksejsMedvedevs says:

Hi Chris, can you suggest some of them please? thanks in advance.cheers

Write a comment