Knowledge Management Basics

If you're relatively new to KM or a student, then this section will give you some of essential background. Or if you're keen to get started on implementing KM in your organization, go straight to the KM Roadmap - there are many links back into this section if you want to refresh your understanding of the basics.

knowledge hierarchy

Definition of KM

There are hundreds of definitions of KM. We offer a definition based on interviews with many of the leading practitioners of KM, which we then analyze in some detail. For completeness we include a few definitions from others that we like.

km essence

The Essence of KM

Knowledge management is a combination of managing explicit content (information) and providing the environment for tacit knowledge (in people's heads) to be shared. This section also covers the two main thrusts (sharing and innovation) and seven strategic levers that you can apply to bring about business benefits.

why km

The Benefits of KM

Good KM can improve business performance in several ways including faster time-to-market, reduced costs through avoidance of duplication and not 'reinventing the wheel'. This section introduces the hierarchy of benefits - better information and knowledge processing that leads to organizational efficiency and effectiveness benefits, through to bottom line results and better outcomes for stakeholders.

evolution of km

The Evolution of KM

Knowledge management in its current form - as a strategic tool of business - emerged into mainstream consciousness (but not necessarily mainstream practice!) in 1995. This section traces the main stages of evolution as witnessed by objective observers. KM is constantly evolving and although its future is certin, its precise nature is uncertain.

knowledge spiral

KM Core Concepts

Whereas academics may cite hundreds of concepts from epistomology to "the resource view of the firm", we believe that practictioners need a grasp of only a few. This section takes you through eight of those we consider the most important including the distinciton between tacit and explicit knowledge, the knowledge spiral, the KM maturity curve and the notion of intellectual capital.

knowledge spiral

KM Glossary Concepts

Not sure about the difference between benchmarking and benchlearning? Need to know what socialization in the KM context means? Then this A-Z glossary should prove a useful starting point. It has links to more detailed explanataions and relevant articles where these are available.

Last updated: 19th February 2011

"Good knowledge management is common sense but not common practice."
(Leif Edvinsson, former VP of Intellectual Capital, Skandia)

Think you know the basics of KM? Perhaps you do, but check out 10 myths and facts

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Our resources section has several articles that will give you a good grounding in some of the basics and practicalities of knowledge management.

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