An engineers view on knowledge management

Earlier this week,I attended a workshop on knowledge management, organised by the Flemish Engineers.  Most people in the audience were new to knowledge management, or looking to start up a project.  But all were interested and wanted to learn more.  In small groups, we were asked to discuss about knowledge management : what knowledge is around in a department, is it available, how can it be shared, …

Our group came up with this (the intention was to create  a mind map, but we were more creative) :




We identified four areas :

Information and information systems : libraries, procedures, repositories, taxonomies, …
     This is the domain of explicit knowledge, with formal structures to organise it.

Knowledge : experience, insight, …
    This is the domain of tacit knowledge.

Culture and processes : knowledge transfer, communities of practice, coaching, meetings, …
     Processes can become part of an organisation’s culture when they happen naturally and unconsciously.

Governance : knowledge matrix, CV of a company, …
     This is a holistic view on the knowledge management efforts, including strategy and helicopter view.


We did not go into all the details, but some of the intersections are interesting.  I like to put ‘rules of thumb’ in the intersection explicit-tacit.  One can codify a rule of thumb in a formula, but it should always be used by an experienced person only.

Networking was not on the radar screen, but it belongs in the ‘Culture and Processes’ bucket.  It can be a company culture when networking is natural, or it can be stimulated and organised as a process.  A simple ‘Who is who’ – directory can be a good starting point.  My preference is to use a social networking tool like LinkedIn where all team members can keep an updated profile.  A big advantage of using an external tool is that this network survives company reorganisations and personal career moves.

PS : I made the picture with my new tool (toy).


One response to “An engineers view on knowledge management

  1. I’m not sure I understood everything, but it certainly is a cool new toy! 🙂

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