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14 Principles of Knowledge Management

        posted by , March 23, 2013

Knowledge management is a political topic.

After all, knowledge underlies everything your business does. Your strategies, programs, projects, processes and communications depend on knowledge.

Your knowledge management program needs the support of executive management to have any chance of success. Knowledge management principles define your high level approach to managing your organization's knowledge.

They make a clear policy statement that align your organization around a knowledge management approach.

Definition: Knowledge Management Principles

Knowledge management principles are an enduring set of guidelines for managing knowledge that are established by an organization, program or team.


Establishing principles is one of the most effective actions management can take to support your knowledge management program.

Your knowledge management principles will be unique to your organization. The following examples are a starting point.


1. Knowledge is a Valuable Asset

Knowledge management is based on the idea that knowledge is an asset that should be managed (just as capital assets are managed).

Explicitly stating that knowledge is a valued asset makes it clear that teams are expected to manage and protect knowledge.


2. Knowledge is Stored in A Central Repository

One of the biggest problems that knowledge management programs face is islands of knowledge. Teams and individuals have a tendency to horde knowledge in their own makeshift repositories.

This principle makes it clear that everything goes into one central repository. Your knowledge repository (e.g. enterprise content management system) should allow teams and users to create their own knowledge spaces.


3. Knowledge is Retained

Knowledge is retained according to organizational retention policies. Retention may be managed with a set health check criteria for knowledge. For example, knowledge that is old, unreferenced and unused may be pruned.


4. Knowledge is Quality Controlled

Set the expectation that knowledge is quality controlled. For example, quality guidelines may state that document authorship (who contributed to knowledge) be captured.


5. Knowledge is Sustained

A sustainable approach to knowledge management. For example, minimizing the resources used by knowledge repositories.


6. Knowledge is Decentralized

Most knowledge management responsibilities lie with those teams closest to the knowledge. It's a bad idea to centralize all knowledge management processes.


7. Knowledge is Social

Knowledge that sits on a shelf has no value. The value of knowledge depends on communication and socialization. The creation, assessment, improvement and use of knowledge is largely a social process.


8. Knowledge is Shared

A primary goal of knowledge management is to facilitate the sharing of knowledge. Encourage your organization to share (e.g. lunch and learn sessions).


9. Knowledge is Accessible

Knowledge is more valuable when it's accessible to a wide audience. Privacy and confidentiality prevent most organizations from sharing all knowledge. However, it's important to set the expectation that a valid reason is required to restrict access.

The concept of accessibility also addresses access to knowledge for individuals with disabilities or special needs.


10. Knowledge is Secured

Knowledge is your most valuable information. It's critical that information security best practices be followed for knowledge management processes and tools.


11. Knowledge is Searchable

Search is a critical tool for knowledge discovery. Executive management may choose to make search a priority.


12. Work Produces Knowledge

Set the expectation that every program, project, process and initiative is expected to generate knowledge. In some organizations, every meeting is expected to generate knowledge.


13. Knowledge is Measured

Require teams to measure their knowledge management processes and knowledge assets.


14. Knowledge is Improved

Knowledge that isn't improved quickly loses it's value. Knowledge management is a process of continual improvement.


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