The term “Knowledge Management” can be misleading at times. When i first got into this field ( seems like a lifetime ago ) i was a little wary of what i was supposed to accomplish. The very idea of Managing Knowledge was something i just couldn’t wrap my head around.

Today, after having practiced KM in the real world and studied it, i’ve come to understand that true KM is more environment management than actual managing of knowledge.

So what is environment management? Well, simply put, it’s creating an environment that fosters knowledge sharing. Attempting to actually manage knowledge is an extremely difficult task. This is because the very nature of KM frowns upon the use of strict guidelines and processes that most other functions require.

Knowledge Management

I’ve seen and heard the way KM is practiced in a large number of organizations, from both the private and public sectors, small, medium and large companies and the one principle that has ensured the success of KM is the fact that its been driven by a change in the cultural and perception of its employees.

Another common mistake that a surprisingly large number of corporates make is “re-defining” their existing information management processes by calling them Knowledge Management processes. While content management and information management do constitute part of the KM initiative they do not define it. This only serves to further confuse end users to the meaning of knowledge management.

The situation has gotten so bad in some instances that employees associate KM with the process of uploading a couple of documents every year to fulfill their “KM” contribution quota. It is practices like these that give Knowledge Management a bad name.

In a previous post i’ve tried to address the issue of why knowledge sharing is so different in the corporate world. However, there have been many instances where these hurdles have been overcome. This is only when there is solid support from the management and when the initiative is viewed as a means to improve the way employees work and not just a way of increasing margins.

Tying all of this together is a framework that includes a rewards and recognition program, branding and a very robust communication strategy. Communication is a large part of knowledge management and i have a few thoughts on this subject.