A new KM standards group in the offing

Ah... knowledge management. What is it? Who does it? Can I get a job doing it?

Eternal questions. I've had KM positions, and I have taught courses in KM. And yet, I still struggle to completely get my arms around it. Most of my work these days is more along the path of Theory of Constraints and continuous improvement. In fact, I have reframed my interest in knowledge management as a piece of my interest in helping people get things done. Knowledge management as a means to an end, not an end in itself.

I mention this because a new group has appeared, currently called IKMSAA - International Knowledge Management Standards & Accreditation Association. They are housed in an open group on LinkedIn for the time being.

Given the name and my reading of several of the discussions, they want to more clearly define standards around KM and create consistency in KM-based certifications. At this stage, they want to stay out of the game of providing training or certifications directly. They just want to set the standards against which training / certification programs are judged.

The biggest question for me is whether this is a good idea - and why hasn't this worked so well in the past. I watched the implosion of KMPro from the perspective of one of the member groups, and am not convinced there is enough reason for such an organization. The group has 100+ comments in a discussion thread on this topic: RIP Stories.

Why has it been such a struggle? Knowledge management isn't a unified discipline. The largest proponents of the idea are library science and information technology. But there are many others who are interested: training and development, human resources, organizational development, change management, project management...

And then there are the different perspectives of people who might be involved: practitioners (people trying to get things done and make a living), universities (education, drawing students), training & certification providers, consultants...

2 Comment(s)

Mark Gould Author Profile Page said:

I was vaguely aware of this standards effort, and it seems misguided to me for the same reason that many KM activities are doomed to failure. It doesn't meet a real business need.

I despair of the interminable postings on LinkedIn groups in which people ask things like "what is the best KM system for my sector?" There is no reasonable answer to that. A better question might be: "in my organisation, there is a core process that is broken and I think we can fix it using knowledge better. Has anyone seen a similar problem and fixed it successfully in that way, or am I barking up the wrong tree."

With that in mind, I have yet to see an organisation that says "we would like to do KM, but we can't find a proper standard so we don't know what to do." Until that happens on a regular basis, to the extent that organisations are incapable of developing knowledge, insight and innovation, I can see no sensible demand for KM standards.

Yes, this perspective - what is the business value - is a big driver behind my current direction around "getting things done" with the continuous improvement methodologies. KM ideas often fit into the needs at that point. (Lessons learned has come up in a recent engagement, for example.)

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