On August 11, 2021, Lucidea hosted my presentation to the SLA 2021 Annual Conference on The Five Cs of Knowledge Management in Special Libraries. I am pleased to announce that Lucidea will soon publish my new book, Lucidea’s Lens: Special Librarians & Information Specialists –The Five Cs of KM, which expands significantly on that presentation.
Gartner recently shared their April 28, 2022 report, Guidance for Developing a Knowledge Management Strategy, with Lucidea. There are many similarities between the Gartner KM approach and the concepts in the forthcoming book and those I have written about for Lucidea’s Think Clearly Blog. When Lucidea asked me to write a series of posts about this, I decided to seize the opportunity. Here is the first one in the series.
Creating themed lists of words starting with the letter C has been very popular. I once wrote a blog post called N Cs of topic X that compiled many of these lists related to knowledge management. There is a vast array of concepts starting with the letter C from which to choose.
Lucidea’s 5 Cs of KM
For the book, I focused on five that I feel are especially relevant to knowledge management: Capture, Curate, Connect, Collaborate, and Create.
- Capture includes collecting documents, presentations, spreadsheets, records, processes, software source code, images, audio, video, and other files that can be used for innovation, reuse, and learning. Capture provides the supply side of 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.
- Connection supports the demand side of knowledge. It enables demand-driven or just-in-time knowledge management. It is a necessary complement to capture, which provides the supply side of knowledge. There are three types of connection that are important for knowledge management: people to people, people to content, and content to content.
- Collaboration is interacting with peers and colleagues to exchange ideas, share experiences, work together on projects, and solve problems. Work teams, project teams, and communities need consistent ways to share their knowledge, coordinate their activities, and communicate with one another. Providing standard collaboration processes and tools ensures that users will not need to frequently learn how to use new ones.
- Creation includes inventing and innovating new concepts, approaches, methods, techniques, products, services, and ideas that can be used for the benefit of people and organizations. Creating new products and services, coming up with new ideas to try out, and developing innovative methods and processes can help transform an organization. Generating new sources of demand, stimulating personal and organizational growth, and rethinking the existing rules of the road can help an organization develop, thrive, and endure. Failure to do so may lead to stagnation, decay, or death.
Gartner’s Four Cs of KM
The Gartner report defines four foundational KM activities: Converse, Capture, Curate, and Circulate.
- Converse: Sharing knowledge and know-how is the entire purpose of knowledge management. Even so, connecting people who need knowledge directly with the people who possess that knowledge is also the most commonly neglected aspect of KM initiatives. Conversation, mentoring, observation and joint practice are among the most effective ways to transfer knowledge from one person’s head to another. These interactions are also key to refining and extending existing knowledge, as well as generating new ideas and approaches.
- Capture: As essential as direct interactions are, they do not scale to the entire enterprise. Capturing the subject of those interactions in some durable, external form is also necessary. Knowledge-based articles, wikis or best-practice documents are all useful repositories of externalized expertise that can preserve and present expertise, even when the source of that expertise is unavailable.
- Curate: Knowledge bases and repositories are not self-maintaining, regardless of vendor’s 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.
- Circulate: Once knowledge is captured and curated, it must be findable and accessible if it is to be of any value. This requires more than a good search engine. In addition to being available (i.e., for ready retrieval), content should be proactively disseminated to interested parties. Just as SMEs must have time to capture and curate knowledge, users must have the means and opportunities to consume, consider and share knowledge resources.
The new Gartner report defines a KM framework that maps decisions and actions to the four Cs:
“Turning a KM strategy into a functional and sustainable KM program requires many concrete decisions and allocations of resources. Roles must be identified and defined. Processes for supporting KM activities must be developed and implemented. Technologies and tools must be identified, acquired and adopted to facilitate those processes. Governance must be established to ensure that the program abides by the parameters set in the strategy. All of these must be mapped to the “four Cs” of KM, namely converse, capture, curate and circulate. This mapping takes the form of a KM framework, which will provide the structure necessary to implement and maintain the KM program.”
Gartner’s KM Process Framework
The “four Cs” list is a change from an earlier Gartner framework. In their Information Technology Glossary, Gartner defines knowledge management as “a business process that formalizes the management and use of an enterprise’s intellectual assets. KM promotes a collaborative and integrative approach to the creation, capture, organization, access and use of information assets, including the tacit, uncaptured knowledge of people.”
In their June 25, 1998 KM process framework, Gartner defines five activities:
- Knowledge Creation: Knowledge creation results in new knowledge, or new assemblies of existing knowledge.
- Knowledge Capture: Knowledge capture makes tacit knowledge explicit, i.e., it turns knowledge that is resident in the mind of the individual into an explicit representation available to the enterprise.
- Knowledge Organization: Knowledge organization is the classification and categorization of knowledge for navigation, storage and retrieval. This includes knowledge maintenance.
- Knowledge Access: Knowledge access is the retrieval or dissemination of knowledge to users.
- Knowledge Use: Knowledge use is the application of knowledge to business decisions or opportunities. Use is also recursive, and continually generates feedback that affects and is integrated into the other knowledge activities.
The three lists – The 5 Cs, The Four Cs, and the five activities – have a lot in common, but with a few differences. In my next post, I will compare them in detail.
Please enjoy Stan’s 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 Presto and SydneyEnterprise with KM capabilities to support successful knowledge curation and sharing.
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