Bruce Boyes
Aug 10 · 4 min read

This article is part of two series: Book reviews and releases and KM standard — ISO 30401 knowledge management systems.

An important new knowledge management (KM) book has just been launched — the KM Cookbook from well-known and greatly respected KM practitioners Chris Collison, Paul Corney, and Patrica Lee Eng.

The KM Cookbook is significant both for what it does and the way in which it does it.

Much-needed guidance for new and old hands

Firstly, the KM Cookbook provides valuable practical guidance on how to respond to the new KM standard ISO 30401:2018 Knowledge management systems — Requirements which was published by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) at the end of 2018.

Recognising that each organisation has its own unique circumstances, ISO 30401 specifies “what” should be done in regard to KM rather than “how” to do it. But this means that organisations new to KM may be unsure of the “how”, or worse still, even head in the wrong direction.

This is a serious concern because ISO 30401 has the potential to attract a large number of newcomers to KM due to the link between ISO 30401 and the organisational knowledge clause of the widely used ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management Systems standard. Indeed, the ISO 30401 KM standard states that:

Knowledge management is complementary to quality management. “Organizational knowledge” is addressed in ISO 9001 as one of the mandatory elements for establishing a quality management system. A knowledge management system as defined in this document is a means to achieve the requirements settled in ISO 9001:2015, 7.1.6.

Demonstrating the potential interest that KM newcomers will have in the KM Cookbook, a RealKM Magazine article providing guidance on how to meet the requirements of ISO 9001:2015 Clause 7.1.6 Organisational knowledge is our third most popular article, with more than 12,000 views!

However, it’s not just KM newcomers who can benefit from KM Cookbook guidance in regard to the “how” of KM. Experienced KM practitioners can also gain and apply new insights and learnings, and should be actively seeking opportunities to do so. For example, one of the vitally important learnings that immediately came to mind as I read the KM Cookbook is the need to effectively recognise and engage not just internal stakeholders, but external ones too. The need to address external stakeholder engagement is clearly recognised in the “KM Chef’s Canvas” in the KM Cookbook (Figure 1), but as I discuss in a current series, has been missing from major KM programs. As I’ve previously argued, it was even inadequate in the process to develop the ISO 30401 KM standard!

KM Chef’s Canvas 1.0
KM Chef’s Canvas 1.0
Figure 1 (click here to enlarge). KM Chef’s Canvas 1.0 (source: KM Cookbook).

Metaphors, narrative, and the nature of knowledge

Secondly, the KM Cookbook provides guidance in regard to the “how” of KM in a way that recognises not just the diversity of organisational circumstances, but the distinctive characteristics of knowledge. The authors do this through the use of metaphors related to cooking and restaurant dining, and associated narrative enquiry. Storytelling and narrative approaches have long been recognised as effective ways of revealing and communicating the nuances and richness of knowledge, and through their use of metaphors the authors of the KM Cookbook use these approaches to great effect.

In Part I of the book, the authors use cooking metaphors to convey a rich and engaging understanding of KM strategy, measurement, methods and tools, policy, communication, engagement, implementation, roles, leadership, external advice, and governance.

Then, in Part II, they present 16 KM program restaurant “menus” from different organisations across the world. Each menu corresponds to different aspects of the KM Chef’s Canvas, and because the menus are narrative-based they convey a richer and more engaging understanding. As the authors state:

We wanted to capture the story from each organisation as told by the KM leader (and in some cases, by other team members too). Each chapter is heavily narrative-based — just as though you were sitting down for dinner with each person and asked them to describe their KM approach from a personal perspective.

How to purchase the KM Cookbook

Because of what it does and the way in which it does it, the KM Cookbook is a very valuable addition to the library of anyone involved in or having an interest in KM.

For information on how to purchase the book, please visit the KM Cookbook website.

Acknowledgements: With thanks to Paul Corney for providing a review copy of the KM Cookbook.

Originally published at RealKM.

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Bruce Boyes

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It’s about people: helping people to learn, know, participate, act and interact has been the focus of my diverse career.

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