KM Practices

In our analysis of many KM cases, we have found a large number of techniques that can be considered as useful KM practices. A few have gained prominence through the KM movement, but many have existed before under different labels. A good eample is a quality circle that can be considered a specific form of 'community of practice' (a KM term). KM practices can be categorized in several ways, including:

  • The types of knowledge conversion processes involved, e.g. tacit-to-tacit, tacit-to-explicit etc.
  • Types of person interaction: 1-to-1, 1-to-many, many-to-many
  • Degree of augmentation by computer tools, ranging from none at all (e.g. storytelling) to intensive (e.g. online discussion forum); those that are entirely computer-based (and therefore tend to deal exclusively with explicit knowledge we tend to call KM Tools rather than practices
  • Level of aggregation: from a small self-contained technique (e.g. mind mapping) to a wide-ranging set of methods (e.g. sharing best practices).

For our purposes we have used the knowledge life cycle as the main way of categorizing. Of course, some practices trascend several phases of the life cycle.

Sample Techniques

In this section we just list a few common techniques that are useful for each phase of the life cycle. These, and more besides, will be explained in further detail as we develop the 'Best Practices section of this website. We here distinguish KM techniques (a set of activities) from KM Tools (computer-based).

Category Technique
Create Creativity Techniques
Simulation / Modelling
Discover Data Mining
Text Mining
Content Analysis
Identify Knowledge audit
Expertise profiling
Needs analysis
Capture / Collect Knowledge elicitation
Exit interviews
Browsing / searching
Organizing Classifying
Card sorting
Share Sharing Best Practices
Communities of Practice
Share Fairs
Cross Functional Teams
Knowledge centres
Use/Exploit Knowledge Work
Learn After Action Reviews
Lessons learned
Learning Networks
Decision Diaries
Evaluate Benefit realisation
KM assessment
User surveys
Measuring Intellectual Capital

Be Practical

With over a hundred potential techniques that can be deployed as part of a knowledge management programme, you must be selective on what is introduced. In general we have found the following approach useful:

  • Use the results of the knowledge audit and/or KM assessment to identify existing or emergent KM practices
  • Find individuals who are willing to 'champion' what they practice in other parts of the organisation.
  • Use the audit to identify some key pressure or leverage points where introducing a KM technique will bring significant benefits.
  • Start with techniques that are more straightforward and easy to learn (i.e. a quick win) - the After Action Review (AAR) is a good example.
  • Don't be a KM purist. Although experts in various techniques may be highly prescriptive in the detail about how they are are implemented, it's much better to introduce a technique that will be widely adopted, even if not practiced to perfection. Refinements can follow.

Additional Resources

An expansion of the above table (with short descriptions of each technique) can be found on the KM Techniques section. Over time this section will provide more detailed de3scription of each technique.

Last updated: 13th January 2012


KM: practice and pitfalls
KM presentation

A presentation (PDF) that goes through the elements of a KM initiative including several of the most useful practices for sharing and managing knowledge


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