Seven big new things in knowledge management

It’s an exciting time to be involved in knowledge management (KM), with some very significant new initiatives underway:

  • Better evidence-based knowledge management
  • Establishment of an international professional knowledge society
  • Chartered Knowledge Manager status
  • Comprehensive, accredited knowledge manager education
  • The open movement and working out loud
  • Culturally aware knowledge management
  • Improved participatory decision-making

You may be aware of some of these “seven big new things in KM” but not others, so here’s a summary of all of them…

Better evidence-based knowledge management

Hardly a day goes by where I’m not reading about some management approach, theory, or model that’s been found to be unsupported by the evidence. For, example, one of the latest management myths to be exposed is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid, which is widely used in management studies. Sorry, but the evidence shows that Maslow never created a pyramid to represent the hierarchy of needs.

Just like the overall field of management, the KM discipline unfortunately has a mixed track record in regard to evidence-based practice. Some opinion-based decision-making occurs in KM, and there’s also a tendency for people working in KM to rely heavily on their professional expertise, to the exclusion of other sources of evidence, in particular research findings. Confirmation bias plays a role in this. As RealKM founder Stephen Bounds advises, “Unfortunately we have become complacent about assuming value of our techniques without searching for how that value may be realised in practice.”

The overall field of management is now embracing evidence-based practice, as are other management disciplines such as HR. With the support of RealKM Magazine, KM is also now starting to move to a much-needed evidence-based foundation.

Establishment of an international professional knowledge society

Under the guidance of RealKM Platinum Patron Dr Arthur Shelley, the Melbourne-based Knowledge Management Leadership Forum (KMLF) has been hosting workshops to lay the initial foundations for the establishment of an international professional knowledge society. As Arthur states, “Many passionate [knowledge managers] facilitate KM communities in different parts of the world … It’s time to connect these communities into a international society for the knowledge profession. Knowledge drives the economy, so it’s critical we show a collective voice to leadership.”

One of the recommendations I recently made to assist the implementation of the new ISO 30401 KM standard also strongly supports the establishment of an international professional knowledge society (Recommendation 4).

We’ll be publishing an article in RealKM Magazine in the next few weeks with plans and preliminary ideas about the international professional knowledge society, including details of who is involved so far. The involvement of everyone is welcome — your support is essential for this initiative to succeed!

Chartered Knowledge Manager status

UK-based KM practitioner, presenter, masterclass leader, and lecturer Paul Corney has been advocating for the establishment of an independently assessed external accreditation for KM practitioners. This would be another key component of the corporate legitimacy of KM alongside the new ISO 30401 KM standard.

In his role as a CILIP Knowledge & Information Management Ambassador, Paul has been working with CILIP CEO Nick Poole to expedite a proposal for Chartered Knowledge Manager status. We’ll be bringing you an article from Paul at the end of June with full details of this very important initiative.

Comprehensive, accredited knowledge manager education

The RealKM Open KM Syllabus has been developed by RealKM founder Stephen Bounds in an attempt to systematically describe the themes and topics required for a fully-rounded education in knowledge management theory and practice. The Open KM Syllabus is licenced for free use under a no-derivatives Creative Commons license to limit fragmentation and encourage consensus within the KM community.

I have developed and taught two knowledge management university subjects drawn from the syllabus, and we’re now keen to hear from other universities that might be interested in implementing the syllabus. I have also initiated discussions with CILIP in regard to using the syllabus to inform the development of an accreditation program for KM university courses.

The open movement and working out loud

Stan Garfield recently described working out loud (WOL) as “KM’s most transformative trend”, and in a previous RealKM Magazine article Lena Ross introduced WOL as an important internal disruption that is changing the way we work. WOL is a “growing movement that encourages employees to narrate their work and broadcast what they’re doing so others can interact, respond, learn, and apply that knowledge to their own work.”

While a substantial evidence base is yet to be developed around WOL, it’s a logical and desirable extension of the open movement. Through open movement initiatives like open access, we’re seeing knowledge and information made readily available to the people who need it. For this reason, knowledge managers should support as many of the open movement initiatives as possible.

Culturally aware knowledge management

There’s an assumption that knowledge management practices developed in western cultures can simply be transplanted into other cultures. However, as I’ve recently discussed, this may not be the case. Further, biased views in regard to the perceived superiority of western management practices and structures also exist.

As knowledge management is introduced into cultures that are substantially different from western cultures, an objective awareness of cultural differences and how to respect them will be needed. To assist this, there would be benefits in developing and implementing an international cultural awareness program for knowledge managers, and also in publishing relevant case studies. I will shortly be publishing such a case study looking at the emerging body of research in regard to Islamic Knowledge Management (IKM).

Improved participatory decision-making

The controversy that erupted when the draft of the new ISO 30401 KM standard was released for public review and comment has highlighted the need for better open, inclusive, and participatory processes in KM.

Establishing frameworks and guidelines for these processes should be a priority for the new international professional knowledge society. One of the recommendations I recently made to assist the implementation of the new ISO 30401 KM standard also strongly supports this (Recommendation 6).


Originally published at RealKM.

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