The three kinds of knowledge management

So you want to improve your team’s knowledge management. Where do you begin?

First of all, don't try to build a single "knowledge management" for the entire organisation. The knowledge needs of operational teams are different than those of project teams. I’ve found there are actually three different kinds of knowledge management. They overlap in goals and execution, but each requires a different approach. Seeing and understanding the differences will help you focus your efforts, and get the best results.

Library Knowledge Management

The first form of KM focuses on building up and managing "what we know about a topic". This might include things like case studies, precedents, and market data. This makes it most common in organisations that provide expertise as a service or product. For example: legal firms, consultancy companies, and universities. It can also apply in communities of practice and guilds. The value in this form comes from quickly finding and compiling information, and who-knows-what, so this form of KM puts a strong emphasis on information management. 

Process Knowledge Management

The second form seeks to leverage an organisation's collective expertise to improve processes. Such initiatives tend to focus on standardization, and reducing process (or project) volatility and costs. They also help identify high-value innovation opportunities.As such, they're most interesting for PMO's, process managers, and competence centers. Process KM emphasizes connecting practitioners, capturing and reusing bottom-up experience, and optimizing delivery. 

Service Knowledge Management

The third form is often called "shift-left", though that can be a misnomer. It focuses on knowledge sharing across different service levels, and across different parts of the value chain. It also includes things like customer self-service. The benefits mainly come from reducing the number and resolution time of issues or requests. In other words, reducing operational costs (OPEX) in favor of structural improvements (CAPEX).

This is just a quick overview, and every form of KM has a lot more to it, of course. But understanding which form is most relevant to your specific context will help you set a clear scope and take the optimal actions.

Do you want to know which form of KM is optimal for your situation? Or have you identified your form, but are not sure how to proceed next? Click the button below to book your free call. It's never too early to get clarity. 

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