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The elements of a knowledge management program

At a PLI conference, Ed Greene of Citibank shared his department’s definition of knowledge management:

“Leveraging of a department’s collective wisdom by creating systems and processes to support and facilitate the identification, capture, dissemination and use of the department’s knowledge.”

Four phrases or words in that definition deserve special attention.

“Leveraging” emphasizes that the efforts are intended to spread knowledge throughout the department, especially to more junior members.

“Collective” denotes the shared activity that is knowledge management. Everyone should contribute to the pool of what is known and thereby made available. The process requires some self-sacrifice today for the common good tomorrow (See my post of March 5, 2005: altruistic information sharing.).

“Systems and processes” means that where you can you should embed learning in the ways that people work. For example, if everyone who handles subpoenas follows the guidelines you develop, you have baked into the process your accumulated experience and knowledge.

“Identification, capture, dissemination and use” encompasses the four steps of knowledge programs: spot the critter, throw a net over it, display it for all to learn, and then domesticate it to pull the plow.

Each concept parsed above is important for an initiative to corral knowledge (See my post of Dec. 10, 2007: how to make the most of knowledge management efforts.).