Re: Article: Knowledge Management - An Industry Without Focus and Direction #state-of-KM
Please know that I don’t interpret your question as flip/flippant.
I believe your question can be answered multiple ways, depending on a given context. I will do my best to provide some practical and realistic examples of contexts…
I hope this helps answer the question.
Frank Guerino, Managing PartnerThe International Foundation for Information Technology (IF4IT)
From: SIKM Leaders <sikmleaders@...>
Reply-To: SIKM Leaders <sikmleaders@...>
Date: Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 1:25 PM
To: SIKM Leaders <sikmleaders@...>
Subject: RE: [Actkm] [sikmleaders] Article: Knowledge Management - An Industry Without Focus and Direction
I have been watching this discussion...and others like this.
Would you please share why this is important in the larger scheme of things? Not trying to be flip.
You wrote: “We've already debated most of the points you make in this article ad nauseum, so I won't rehash those arguments.”
Yes. The article was meant as more of a public collection of those thoughts and concerns for anyone interested in KM, including those outside this community.
You wrote: “I will note, for the record, that your list of "roles related to knowledge" do not include this role description:
The systematic analysis of organisational knowledge systems[*], and the design and implementation of interventions
acting on these systems to improve an organisation's problem-solving and decision-making capability. "
I agree with your definition of a Knowledge System (KS). However, there is a problem with your definition that only further highlights challenges for the formal KM industry. Like that the definition of Knowledge, your definition of a KS is vague and axiomatically true because all systems in an enterprise are "Knowledge Systems (KSs).” And, since all systems are KSs, just like roles each system has a very specific purpose and can be named, whether it be broad (e.g. The Organization, Marketing & Sales, Product Dev, Support, etc.) or narrow (e.g. Claims Intake, Claims Validation, Claims Adjudication, Claims Payment). This being said, just like specific knowledge worker roles that have specific titles (not being the generic Knowledge Manager), such KSs also have specific roles and titles associated with them. And, while I agree that there are more generic roles that have more generic titles and purposes that span across such systems (e.g. Business Analyst, Enterprise Architect, Solutions Architect, Systems Engineer, etc.), most people do not point to something and say “that is a Knowledge System and it requires a Knowledge Manager.” Instead, they say something like: "This is our Manufacturing System/Process and we need a Manufacturing specialist or a generalist like a Systems Engineer or Enterprise Architect who we know to have the skills to dive in and help solve our problems/challenges."
The simple fact is that most enterprises rarely bring in someone with the title of “Knowledge Manager” to address system/systematic problems. They either bring in domain/area specialists (e.g. Organizational Development Specialist, Learning Specialist) because they are directly aligned with the problem or more commonly accepted generalists (e.g. Analysts, Architects, Engineers) because such generalist roles have become far more of the norm when dealing with systems of any form. We can see the data that supports this by simply performing searches for “Knowledge Manager” and “Knowledge System” in any of the world-wide job boards. This only enforces the simple reality that most of the world does not view a Knowledge Manager as more than a documenter (addressed in the section on perception of the K Mgr).
You wrote: “Regardless of usage of the title in practice, I firmly believe that this role description is the only sustainable definition of a "Knowledge Manager”"
With the utmost respect, please understand that what you believe to be your definitions of a KS and a K Mgr and what the world believes about them are not in line. Again, this is where the job boards help support the statements. Virtually no one writes a job requisition asking for a Knowledge Manager to solve their Sales process/system problems, their Support process/system problems, etc. And, I’m going to bet there are almost zero requisitions, globally, that ask for someone to deal with their Knowledge System. Broad “systems" problems are handled by roles like Systems Engineers, Enterprise/Solutions Architects, Analysts, etc… not Knowledge Managers.
And, while such statements represent an assessment of the industry and not an attack on it, I believe they all further strengthen the argument that for the KM industry to gain credibility and correct its direction it must stop pretending it represents or operates in spaces that already have formal/specific labels, titles and roles. The KM industry will have to find its own unique space of operations with its own unique set of solutions. After many decades, there appear to be none left.
Frank Guerino, Managing Partner
The International Foundation for Information Technology (IF4IT)
SIKM Leaders <sikmleaders@...>
We've already debated most of the points you make in this article ad nauseum, so I won't rehash those arguments. I will note, for the record, that your list of "roles related to knowledge" do not include this role description:
Regardless of usage of the title in practice, I firmly believe that this role description is the only sustainable definition of a "Knowledge Manager". I cannot reconcile this to any of your other 'knowledge' professions, nor can I think of another existing role that would be better qualified to perform this function. Nor can I see how any of your listed IT solutions will make this organisational capability redundant.
[*] To pre-empt a possible question: a knowledge system is any combination of interacting components which incorporates one or more intelligent, autonomous agents.
Director & Principal Consultant
knowquestion Pty Ltd
M: 0401 829 096