Knowledge managers are people who spend all or a significant portion of their time leading knowledge management (KM) initiatives, sharing knowledge, and supporting others in sharing their knowledge.
You will need to have at least one knowledge manager to lead the KM initiative. Knowledge management is everyone’s responsibility, not just the work of knowledge managers. But knowledge managers are needed to raise awareness, align knowledge actions with business priorities, promote a knowledge sharing culture, engage senior leadership, manage the infrastructure, and support all knowledge workers.
Knowledge managers know how to use KM tools, how to ask others for help, who should be connected to whom, who would benefit from a piece of information, and how to persuade others to use information effectively. One role of a knowledge manager is subscribing to many information sources, belonging to many communities, and reading many publications, always looking out for what may be useful to others in the organization.
All good managers should do these things, but they may not how to best do so. A KM program can support managers in all of these activities. Good knowledge managers regularly inform their management colleagues about an article, book, presentation, or con call which was relevant to their areas of responsibility. These colleagues can subscribe to the same sources and join the same communities, but if not, they will appreciate being selectively alerted when content applies to them.
All knowledge workers in the organization should view sharing, innovation, reuse, collaboration, and learning as part of their jobs. But as Malcolm Gladwell wrote, not everyone is a connector, maven, or salesman. So those who play these roles, and especially, those who combine more than one of these roles, can function as power knowledge workers, facilitating knowledge flow throughout the organization.
Good knowledge managers have worked in many different roles so that they have experienced first-hand the needs of employees. They know about the organization, including who does what, where to find information, and the ways things get done. Within the organization, they are active in communities, subscribe to newsletters, attend seminars and conference calls, and visit web sites. Outside, they attend seminars and conferences, read books, subscribe to periodicals, visit blogs and web sites, and participate in online communities.
Knowledge managers look for knowledge-related needs that are not currently met and try to develop ways to meet these needs using people, process, or technology. They like to help others who are looking for information, trying to figure out how to use tools, or seeking others. They introduce people to one another, invite them to join communities, and pass along items of interest which they encounter.
For details on the role of knowledge managers, see:
Please read Stan’s additional blog posts offering advice and insights drawn from many years as a KM practitioner. You may also want to download a copy of his book, Proven Practices for Implementing a Knowledge Management Program, from Lucidea Press. And learn about Lucidea’s Inmagic Presto and SydneyEnterprise with KM capabilities to support successful knowledge management programs.
A KM program should help people add others to networks, facilitate social network analysis, provide tools for finding, communicating, collaborating.
KM leaders must use surveys to find out what users struggle with, what tools they still need, what they use, and if/why they like what’s provided.
Knowledge managers should identify organizational culture/values, leverage elements conducive to knowledge sharing, and address those which are not.
A KM program will only be successful if leaders trust staff to share knowledge effectively and usefully; staff must trust there will be mgmt advocacy