CKO skills, revisited

In 2015 I published a post showing that a significant proportion of CKOs know very little about Knowledge Management, at least according to their Linked-in profiles. This year I revisited these stats.

It seems things have improved a little, but there are still a lot of CKOs out there with few or no KM skills.
I looked at the profiles of 50 CKOs in Linked in – people with “Chief Knowledge Officer” in their current job title – and I counted how far down the list of skills you had to go before you found “Knowledge Management”.  The results are shown in the pie chart here. (Note however that this job title seems disproportionately popular at the moment in the military and legal fields, so these fields are over-represented in the sample).
Note how 34% of CKOs have KM as their top skill – as you might expect.
But note also how 14% of CKOs have KM way down their list of skills – lower than 10th place – and how 26% of the CKO profiles I reviewed DO NOT HAVE KM ON THE LIST OF SKILLS AT ALL!
I said in my 2015 post that there seems to be two types of CKOs out there, with a fairly even split between the two.
  • One type, who are reasonably well versed in Knowledge Management, and see this as the CKO’s domain. KM is top of their list of skills, or high in the list (and half of the the profiles I reviewed had KM in the top 3 skills).
  • Another type, for whom the CKO role is held by a person with few or no KM skills at all.

It’s the second type that puzzles me. Perhaps the job was titled “CKO” because it sounded good and important rather than because it had anything to do with the management of knowledge, or perhaps they appointed someone with information skills in a knowledge role, or perhaps the CKO plays purely an oversight and coordination role, and leaves the KM aspects to Knowledge Managers (managing the initiative rather than the knowledge)?

Whatever the reason, the results are surprising. 40% of CKOs have few if any KM skills.

Would you see this in any other discipline? Imagine

  • a CFO with no financial skills
  • a Chief Lawyer with no legal skills
  • a Chief Engineer with no engineering skills
So why do 40% of CKOs have few if any KM skills?

What is heartening though is that things seem to be getting better. Bearing in mind the caveats that

  • these are two different samples, and that 
  • 50 many not be a representative number, and that 
  • the profiles I can see on LinkedIn are related to my own personal network;
the plot below seems to show that the situation is improving. 

In the 2015 sample, only 24% had KM at the top of the skills list – now it is 34%.
In the 2015 sample, 32% had no KM skills on their skills list – now it is 26%.

Perhaps this is evidence that KM is becoming more respected and more established as a discipline, and that CKO is less likely to be used as a random job title.

The trend is heartening, but we still have a long way to go.

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Shared by: Nick Milton

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