When is a Knowledge Manager a knowledge manager?
The debate over whether Knowledge Managers manage knowledge or whether they are confused data and information managers has raged for decades. So, when is a Knowledge Manager a knowledge manager? The following might give you some food for thought.
- A Knowledge Manager understands that the concepts of learning and knowledge are inseparable.
“It is clear that managing behaviour, learning and knowledge cannot be separated from one another” (Edwards and Rees, 2015, p. 167).
- When they see the brain as a belief system and, therefore, nudges behaviours, processes and structures to accelerate the creation of beliefs that align with individual, team, organisational and societal needs.
- He or she speaks of learning design, embracing cognitive, associative and situative perspectives of learning that, when harnessed, accelerate learning and, therefore, the embedding, sharing, development and application of knowledge. [see our 3 tips for gaining a knowledge advantage for an example]
“…it is remarkable how seldom learning theory is even referred to in the KM literature” (Spender, 2008, p. 165) [and that was nine years ago!]
- When they sense whether people are ready, challenged and supported when it comes to accelerating learning and, therefore, the embedding, sharing, development and application of knowledge.
- They can help individuals, teams and organisations identify critical or vulnerable subject level knowledge (security, completeness and depth), but, more importantly, they work to enhance behaviours to activate that knowledge [see an example in our post that asks, “Are you trying to capture Lionel Messi?“.]
- He or she sees networks and monitors enrollment, engagement and influence within those networks.
- They build ‘solutions’ according to the contextual needs of simple, complicated and complex learning domains.
A Knowledge Manager is really a data or information manager if they:
- Act solely as a library function (e.g. managing a lessons learned catalogue).
- Act in isolation, where, for example, they fail to embrace the interconnectedness of their function with Human Resource Development (learning & development).
- Believe Knowledge Management is about externalising what people know for storage in access in a repository.
- See Knowledge Management as a technology solution.
- Fail to anticipate the needs of people!
- Cannot link or report Knowledge Management outputs to social, human and intellectual capital development.
Remember, knowledge is a human condition and not a technology solution.
For more, see our 10 reasons to detest Knowledge Management