Good question, Ivan - this is one that is often delegated to an IT, HR or
Finance executive, when many times it is best addressed at the CEO level.
Correctly conceived and implemented the CKO role should be strategic - the
objective, in its broadest sense, should be to:
1. understand the link between a firm's mission or strategic intent and the
critical knowledge-based resources the firm controls that have the greatest
variable impact on accomplishing that mission or strategic intent.
2. become intimately familiar with the critical knowledge-based resources of
the firm, and how they are currently leveraged/used to support achieving
business outcomes and objectives
3. develop strategies and implementable improvement plans aimed at increasing
the level of, or improving the way(s) the firm uses its critical knowledge
resources to achieve desired business outcomes.
Some understanding of each of the above would be helpful prior to hiring a CKO,
in order to better spec out the desired qualifications for the job. For some
firms, data or information may be the knowledge-based resource that could be
better leveraged. In other firms social capital, or relationships among
employees or between the firm and its customers is the critical resource. And
for still other firms the expertise of its employees may be the critical
knowledge-based resource that is under-optimized.
The expertise of the CKO you hire should be matched with the situation your
firm is trying to address - there are KM generalists out there who have a bit
of experience in the various main KM areas, like building communities of
practice; establishing content repositories, taxonomies and search; improving
collaboration among experts to drive innovation; building customer communities;
improving BI capabilities; etc.
Sometimes this becomes a kind of Catch-22 - you don't want to hire a CKO until
you better understand the strategic role your knowledge-based resources play in
achieving your business strategy; yet you may not have the skill or know-how
needed to assess this yourself, and it is something a CKO should be able to do
for you. At that point an alternative may be to hire a KM strategy specialist
(like me! ;-) who could help you get a better handle on what your critical
knowledge-based resources are, in terms of how they support achievement of
business objectives, and what the strategic opportunity is to better leverage
them. That would provide the initial pointers toward the type of CKO you would
want to hire to maximize the likelihood of success on the KM front.