Why "Knowledge" needs "Management" and vice versa

There are many people who really don’t like the term Knowledge Management, and would much rather use some other terminology. But logically, these two words go together. 

There is a common view that the term “Knowledge Management” is an oxymoron; that “knowledge cannot be managed” and therefore the term makes no sense.  They start to use terms like “Knowledge Sharing” instead of “Knowledge Management,” and KM becomes a taboo term – something to be avoided.

However there are a number of reasons what Knowledge Management is not only a valid term, but a combination of two words that need each other.

Firstly the term “Knowledge Management” does not mean “the Management of Knowledge,”  nor does it imply management by control. Management is about  creating and maintaining organisational structures, frameworks, systems and processes to optimise the value of some area of focus, and in the case of KM, Knowledge is the area of focus.

“Knowledge Management” is therefore “Management with a focus on Knowledge”.

This is the definition you will find in ISO 30401:2018, the management systems standard for Knowledge Management, and we based this on the definition of Quality Management in ISO 9001.  With this definition, there is no oxymorom. KM is Management with Knowledge in mind.

Management is what we do to make organisations work; to make them prosper and succeed. And if they don’t manage with knowledge (together with risk, quality, safety, money etc etc) in mind, then they won’t prosper and succeed to the same extent.

Divorcing “management” from “knowledge” also means divorcing “knowledge” from “management”. If you are talking to managers, then they need to understand that these two cannot and should not be divorced.

They cannot manage properly, if they ignore knowledge.  And if we manage with due attention to the value and importance of knowledge, then this is Knowledge Management, and this is what we should be doing. Management needs Knowledge, and Knowledge needs Management, in the sense that it needs organisational structures, frameworks, systems and processes.

The two words belong together.

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Shared by: Nick Milton

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