What do you know about knowledge, or more specifically, knowledge management?

If you’re like me, probably less than you think. The term “knowledge” is common, but  often misunderstood. The phrase “knowledge management” is relatively new in the United States, but may be as foreign to us as some of the foreign countries that are perfecting it.

Why should we care about knowledge and knowledge management? The future of your career, the future of your firm or your business, and the future of your profession might depend on it. Do I have your attention now? I know, I’m being dramatic.  But if that’s what it takes, so be it!

We all know that the world is getting more complex and complicated every day. To succeed in business, and in life in general, it is becoming increasingly critical to manage the knowledge you need to make decisions, adapt, adjust, realign, refocus or whatever it is you need to do to respond to change and keep moving in the right direction. But, what is knowledge and knowledge management?

Knowledge is NOT the data or information. Data is raw facts.  That is important. Information is captured and processed data.  That’s important too. But knowledge is ultimately the most important because it is the culmination of applying your experience and intuition to data and information, and voila … that’s what you “know.” Some people may know some of the same things, but chances are you have some knowledge unique to you.Is that a good thing? Probably, but a lot of that unique knowledge may be important to share or pass along, especially if you care about the future. And that’s where knowledge management comes in.

The concept of knowledge management, in essence, involves the capturing and transferring of knowledge so that others may benefit from it. That may sound easy, but it’s actually rather hard – both for the actual process of doing it and also for changing the culture and overcoming barriers to enable it to happen. It requires a variety of practices and methods, along with the willingness for contributions of expertise and practical applications. In the end, knowledge capture and transfer will lead to greater personal, professional and business success and continuity.

Knowledge management is not a technology. A knowledge management system may use technology as a tool, but knowledge management itself is the capturing and transferring process. It’s also not a strategy, at least not in and of itself. It is an organizational response to strategy – virtually all strategy – and that’s why knowledge management is becoming so vitally important. It is applicable and necessary for just about anything you do.

You will be hearing more about knowledge management since the Society is exploring how to integrate it into the organization. It should be a component of every firm or company business model, and in many ways is also the future of competency. A very powerful concept indeed.