IIn order to begin any knowledge management initiative, you must first establish what knowledge management means for your organization. Let’s begin by first defining Knowledge:  Knowledge – The understanding gained through experience, analysis and learning. When examining how to define knowledge management there are a myriad of definitions. If you ask a hundred Knowledge Management experts, you may receive a hundred different definitions. Therefore, you should create a knowledge management definition that resonates with your organization!

Some sample knowledge management definitions include:

“KM is a strategic, knowledge-centric program, a catalyst for cultural transformation in the Knowledge Age. It aligns with and enriches other initiatives, enabled by multi-disciplined teams and technology, to measurably exceed organizational objectives at acceptable risk.

 — KM Institute

 “Knowledge management is a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise’s information assets. These assets may include databases, documents, policies, procedures, and previously un-captured expertise and experience in individual workers.”

— Gartner Group

“Knowledge Management: The process of getting the right knowledge to the right people at the right time, enabled by people, processes and technology all of which aligns with the strategies, objectives of the organization to improve performance and facilitate innovation”

— Dr. Anthony J. Rhem, PhD

When defining knowledge management there are some key words that you would want to include to assist in explaining the essence of what knowledge management really is. Some of these key words are identified below:

  • Strategic – Enterprise wide, with primary focus/leverage on core competencies and discriminators
  • Program – Multiple simultaneous projects or initiatives within KM Initiative (Program)
  • Aligns – KM initiatives complement and support organizational goals and objectives
  • Multi-Disciplined – Taps many-disciplined roots, diversity fosters innovation/meaningful solutions
  • Technology – An enabler, both optimize infrastructure performance and enrich products/services
  • Organizational – Results promote the organization vs. KM. It’s an organizational performance tool
  • Risk – Return on Investment includes discounted cash flows (net present value) and uncertainty
  • Knowledge Age – The post-industrial, post IT age that focuses on what to do with the info.
  • Knowledge Processes – The ubiquitous Acquire, Produce/Create, Integrate, to be managed
  • Innovation – Creation of useful new knowledge, (products/services)
  • Continuously – Relentless, uninterrupted – unceasing/never ending
  • Critical – Indispensable, essential. Focus on existing, cover gaps in knowledge needs

As you can see the definitions that I have indicated have many of these key words. Whatever definition of Knowledge Management your organization agrees with and begins to socialize, it will serve as the basis for the future (or enhanced) KM Vision Statement that the organizations’ KM Strategy and initiatives will align to.

Please share your definition of Knowledge Management and highlight the key words (if any) that you have used.

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