Re: Article: Knowledge Management - An Industry Without Focus and Direction #state-of-KM


Frank Guerino
 

Hi Bill,

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…

Student: If you are student evaluating whether or not you wish to pursue a formal degree in Knowledge Management, you might care because it helps you understand what the benefits might or might not be for pursuing a formal degree in KM.  It helps understand just how much demand there is for such title-related jobs when you graduate, what you can or can’t do with your degree after graduation, how big the industry is for long term career growth, what you’ll be perceived as when you graduate with that degree, etc.

Practicing KM Professional: If you are a practicing KM professional who is trying to improve your career and/or find work, you might care because it helps you understanding industry demand and supply, understand how the industry will view a KM title, what other title options are, how big the KM industry is, how much room there is for positioning yourself within it or movement across and/or up it, how you will be perceived by people you work with, etc.  For example, you might make more money doing Knowledge Work labeled as an Enterprise Architect, a Solutions Architect, or a Business Analyst and there is usually far more demand for such roles with higher pay levels.

Hiring Manager: If you’re a hiring manager, it will help you decide whether you want to give your employees titles like “Knowledge Manager,” given how they will be perceived within the organization.  It will help you understand how to better write job requirements and define roles & responsibilities.  It will help you understand how thin or thick the market pool is when looking for replacement resources to fill such jobs.  It will help you better understand what you can pay people to fill such roles.

Human Resources Professional: If you’re an HR and/or Org. Dev. Professional, it will help you better define standard roles, expectations, and pay grades that align with industry baselines and perceptions.  Given your job in HR or OD is to help define, standardize, and fill jobs/roles, it will help you work with hiring managers to describe their open jobs, better understand market & hiring expectations, assign bands to titles, understand how high such titles and roles allow people to move in your organization (at least before they take on new titles).  Also, given your standardized definitions of such roles and grades, it will help you better develop career development programs that can be offered through the hiring managers to staff who hold such related titles.

Non-KM role Interacting w/ “formal” KM Professional:  If you’re in a non-KM role or a non-formal KM role and you have to speak with people who call themselves things like Knowledge Managers, it helps you understand them better: Who they are.  What they think they can do.  How others perceive them.  What others think they can do.  What their true freedoms and constraints/limitations are. Etc.

I hope this helps answer the question.

My Best,

Frank
Frank Guerino, Managing Partner
The International Foundation for Information Technology (IF4IT)
http://www.if4it.com
1.908.294.5191 (M)



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.

 

Best

 

Bill

 

From: sikmleaders@... [mailto:sikmleaders@...]
Sent: Thursday, February 23, 2017 09:21
To: SIKM Leaders <sikmleaders@...>
Subject: Re: [Actkm] [sikmleaders] Article: Knowledge Management - An Industry Without Focus and Direction

 

 

Hi Stephen,

 

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.

 

My Best,

 

Frank

Frank Guerino, Managing Partner

The International Foundation for Information Technology (IF4IT)
http://www.if4it.com
1.908.294.5191 (M)

 

 

From: SIKM Leaders <sikmleaders@...>
Reply-To: SIKM Leaders <sikmleaders@...>
Date: Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 3:38 AM
To: "ActKM Discussion List <actkm@...>" <actkm@...>, SIKM Leaders <sikmleaders@...>
Subject: Re: [Actkm] [sikmleaders] Article: Knowledge Management - An Industry Without Focus and Direction

 

 

Hi Frank,

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:

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.

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.

Cheers,
-- Stephen.

====================================
Stephen Bounds
Director & Principal Consultant
knowquestion Pty Ltd
E: sb@...
M: 0401 829 096
====================================

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