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Reboot: The Evolution of Knowledge Management

I cannot believe that it’s been almost a decade since my last blog post. The need for Knowledge Management (KM) has always existed. Historically, Knowledge Management responsibilities were often distributed among a variety of roles. Project managers, technical writers, corporate librarians, human resources, and a host of other functions were often tasked with establishing systems and methods to exchange critical information across an organization. More and more, organizations realized the importance of having a named owner to capture and share lessons learned.

That named owner may operate under any number of titles including Knowledge Manager, Communications Lead, Principal Writer, Human Resources Specialist, or Program Manager. The common thread is the duality of designing a content workflow and building repositories while driving behavioral change. Depending on the size of the organization and content maturity, the knowledge management function may reside with an individual or an entire team. Knowledge Managers influence corporate culture by formulating ways for colleagues to readily share what they know. The most effective knowledge management systems are those which integrate with the ways that content contributors already work. Knowledge Managers design systems which encourage increased efficiency by sharing lessons learned. When lessons learned are easy to find, easy to use, and easy to understand they become digital assets which improves the performance of an entire organization. The positive impact of quickly locating trusted information accelerates effective decision making.

Renowned management consultant Peter Drucker famously stated that “There’s no such thing as knowledge management; there are only knowledgeable people.” At its core, Knowledge Management is about people. Process are critical to support people by ensuring consistency. Technology helps to advance, automate, or streamline processes. People are the core of knowledge management because people possess the knowledge. Drucker also said that “Information only becomes knowledge in the hands of someone who knows what to do with it.” In the tidal wave of information that we surf every day, the ability to establish a system to assess that information, consider other audiences who might benefit, and transform what an individual or small group knows into a corporate asset is the heart of knowledge management. Knowledge management lives at the intersection of content strategy and organizational behavior. I look forward to sharing more of my own lessons through this blog. Welcome to the reboot!

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