Knowledge Curation: A Vital Element of KM

Stan Garfield

Stan Garfield

February 08, 2024

In this post, I provide definitions, perspectives, and details on how and why knowledge curation should be performed as part of knowledge management.

I have written extensively about both subjects and was recently asked about the differences between the two.

Definitions

Knowledge Curation is taking existing information and making it more useful.

This includes better organizing it, making it more findable, and making it easier to use. To curate is to collect, select, assemble, and present information or multimedia content such as photos, videos, or music for other people to use or enjoy, using professional, expert, or personal knowledge and passion.

Knowledge Management is a very broad field; it is the art of transforming information and intellectual assets into enduring value for an organization’s clients and its people.

  • The purpose of knowledge management is to foster the reuse of intellectual capital, enable better decision making, and create the conditions for innovation.
  • KM provides people, processes, and technology to help knowledge flow to the right people, at the right time, so they can act more efficiently, effectively, and creatively.
  • Knowledge management enables Sharing, Innovating, Reusing, Collaborating, and Learning.

Knowledge Curation is a skill, an approach, and a set of tasks that fit broadly under Sharing and more specifically under:

  1. knowledge managers – a skill that knowledge managers need to develop and tasks they should perform
  2. communities – community managers tag, edit, merge, and split threaded discussions
  3. methodologies – refined reusable processes
  4. lessons learned – collected, organized, and communicated
  5. proven practices – captured and replicated
  6. content management – compiling content, making it findable, and disseminating it
  7. storytelling – collected, tagged, and communicated
  8. metadata and tags – applied to content and threaded discussions
  9. search engines – create best bets, thumbnails, answer cards, and authoritative badges
  10. syndication, aggregation, and subscription management systems – disseminate content through feeds, alerts, notifications, email subscriptions, and mobile apps

Other Views

Paul Corney wrote this about what to call knowledge managers: “I am drawn to Knowledge Curator which very much plays to the idea of preserving and maintaining knowledge assets. So much of what passes for Knowledge Management is about creating and storing content and making it available for reuse. It’s more than the role formerly undertaken by information professionals and librarians; here we are talking about being a custodian of organizational knowledge and organizational knowledge bases.”

Harold Jarche wrote:

Gartner wrote this about curation: “Knowledge bases and repositories are not self-maintaining, regardless of vendors’ AI promises. Content must be edited, organized, fleshed out, updated, and eventually retired. Subject matter experts bear the brunt of this burden and must have the time and resources to do the job properly. In addition, community members must also have the time, ability, and incentive to comment, refine and elaborate on knowledge resources.”

Knowledge Managers as Knowledge Curators

Knowledge managers need to curate a wide variety of content to make the most important and useful information easy to find and retrieve. It’s not enough to just collect content and make it available in a large repository. Selecting and highlighting the best of this content greatly simplifies effective reuse. Knowledge managers are usually better at finding information than others in their organizations. Moreover, they can enable people to get the information they need more easily by curating it for their users.

A knowledge manager’s role includes 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. Knowledge managers know who would benefit from a piece of information, and they take steps to connect those people to that information.

Knowledge Curation is important for increasing the findability of content in an organization. Knowledge managers should determine the topics of greatest importance to the organization, curate a list of relevant content that can be searched and filtered, and feed the entries as enterprise search results. These can be in the form of curated answers: “best bets” (thumbnails and links only), authoritatively-badged content, or quick answers (more complete content plus links) for content deemed to be the best for each key topic.

Good knowledge managers regularly inform their colleagues about an article, book, presentation, or meeting relevant to their areas of responsibility. They regularly think about how knowledge or a piece of content can be reused, who could use it, how to make it more useful, and where it should be located for easy access. Whenever they learn something new – or search for, receive, or come across potentially useful information – they ask themselves these questions:

  • What can and should be done with the information?
  • When should the information be shared?
  • Where should the information be stored so it can be found?
  • Which metadata, tags, or search best bets should be added to make the information findable?
  • How should the information be shared?

Additional Resources from Lucidea

  1. Curation: A Key Knowledge Management Activity, Part 1
  2. Curation: A Key Knowledge Management Activity, Part 2
  3. The Five Cs of KM: Curate, Part 1—Search Results
  4. The Five Cs of KM: Curate, Part 2—FAQs
  5. The Five Cs of KM: Curate, Part 3 — Online Discussions and What Else to Curate
  6. The Five Cs of KM: Curate, Part 4—How to Curate
  7. Video Recording – The Five Cs of KM Part 2: Curate
  8. Free Book – The 5 Cs of KM for Special Librarians
  9. Free Book – Knowledge Nuggets: 100 KM Infographics
  10. Curation: Buzzword or What? by Stephen Abram

Infographic

Stan Garfield

Stan Garfield

Enjoy Stan’s blog posts offering advice and insights drawn from many years as a KM practitioner. Learn about Lucidea’s Presto, a single knowledge curation venue for managing, finding and sharing organizational knowledge resources. Presto makes it easy to connect people with the information they need, so they can spend less time searching and more time doing.

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