Friday, 15 May 2009

What's in a title?

Having met with a few organisations that are interested in joining KIN, I was struck by the absence of the term 'Knowledge Management' in our discussions. Whilst all these firms are doing interesting and innovative things around organisational learning and knowledge sharing, none of them have 'KM Teams' or 'KM Programmes'. I discussed this with two organisations that I met recently; one a top recruitment consultancy (no, I was not going for a real job, though it did cross my mind) and the other an international NGO/charity. Both confirmed that knowledge sharing, knowledge transfer and other related techniques were central to their collaboration and change programmes. It was the 'KM' term they had problems with. One told me " 'Knowledge sharing' is something everyone here has an immediate and common understanding of. 'Knowledge Management' is a much more obscure concept, is interpreted in a variety of ways, or even worse associated with a failed information database project".

I absolutely agree with Nick's Milton's premise that knowledge can be managed. Techniques and interventions for transferring and sharing knowledge are well proven. However, Nick's considered blog postings on coming up with a common definition for Knowledge Management underlines the problem for me. If someone can't envisage what you mean without a formal definition in front of them, you are starting with a handicap.

A KIN member organisation that I was with today has a sophisticated knowledge sharing programme underway, simply but effectively 'branded' as SHARE. They are considering dropping the term 'knowledge management' as the sub-brand as they realise it simply didn't add anything.
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