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What does KM mean to you?

I’m a librarian by training and I’ve been in the “KM” business since 2000.  Since that time I’ve been building a worldwide network of KM professionals, colleagues in all types of industries, communities and organizations.  I have had many conversations using many different channels to find out what people are doing in their KM work so that I can profile them and have them as speakers for the KMWorld conference which I have programmed and chaired annually in the US since 2000.

I look at KM in the broadest possible way, basically to mean knowledge sharing, an activity that librarians, archivists, curators of museums and galleries, and lots of others have been doing for many many years.  Towards the end of the last century ‘knowledge management’ was being used to refer to a number of processes and activities within organizations.  The words “knowledge management” have gone in and out of fashion over the last 20+ years but I still believe that knowledge sharing needs to be a core activity of all organizations and communities.  Think of volunteer organizations like associations where people are being elected and appointed regularly; how do they pass along the knowledge they gain while doing the activities and responsibilities assigned to them?  Or in corporations or libraries where people are retiring and newbies are being hired out of university and on-boarded.  How do they learn and get up to speed so they can excel in their job and the organization as a whole can thrive?

Building learning organizations with a core value of knowledge sharing means creating collaborative, not hierarchical, organizations.  It revolves around a number of activities and processes, with communities of practices and social media solutions, as just a few tools of today.

I’d like to turn to one of my colleagues to explain further.  Stan Garfield, a long time KM practitioner, and frequent speaker for me at KMWorld, has an extensive piece on the definition of KM  but what I asked him to do a number of years ago was give me a list of those activities, processes, etc that could make up KM in an organization even if they weren’t called KM.  Here’s how Stan put that list together.  And if you want to see all Stan’s extensive resources on KM, here’s where he keeps it.

What does KM mean to you?  Please share with us!

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