Spring 2007

Letter from the Editor

Sharing Knowledge

Overcoming KM Barriers

KM Resources

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Knowledge Management: Book Review

Know-How: Book Review

Newsletter Archives

"A definition is the enclosing a wilderness of an idea within a wall of words."

~Samuel Butler


There are a number of drivers that lead organizations to undertake a knowledge management program. Perhaps first among these is to gain the competitive advantage that comes with improved or faster learning and new knowledge creation. Knowledge management programs may lead to greater innovation, better customer experiences, consistency in good practices and knowledge access across a global organization, as well as many other benefits, and knowledge management programs may be driven with these goals in mind.

Etienne Wenger is credited with creating the term "community of practice." Etienne believes that learning is a social activity and that people learn in groups.

KM Resources


Knowledge Management: the systematic processes by which knowledge needed for an organization to succeed is created, captured, shared and leveraged.

Intellectual Capital: includes everything an organization knows. That can be ideas, different kinds of knowledge, and innovations. The bottom line though, is that it's knowledge that an organization can turn into profit. Typically intellectual capital is divided into human capital, social capital and structural capital.

Human Capital: the knowledge (explicit and tacit), skills and experiences possessed by individual employees.

Structural Capital: everything that remains in a firm after its employees go home, including explicit, rule-based knowledge embedded within the organization's work processes and systems, or encoded in written policies, training documentation, or shared databases of "best practices." It also includes intellectual property, recognized by patents and copyrights.

Social Capital: the ability of a group to collaborate and work together, it is a function of trust. Effective networks of relationships characterized by high levels of trust are a valuable and often overlooked resource in the creation and use of knowledge.

Explicit Knowledge: encompasses the things we know that we can write down, share with others, and put into a database. Some have an exact sequence of actions that you can teach to someone else.

Tacit Knowledge: is what we do not know that we know. It includes know-how, rules of thumb, experience, insights and intuition Some experts have concluded that about 80% of knowledge is tacit and resists codifying.

Knowledge Workers: are minds, not hands. They are educated and have experience. They're hired for what they know. At work they need information and knowledge as they apply theoretical and analytical knowledge. They work as a source of satisfaction, a place to create and produce. They must continuously learn and they'll probably have several careers over the course of their lives.

Best Practices: those that have produced outstanding results in another situation and that could be adapted for our situation. Like all knowledge, it is contextual. A best practice is what is best for you.

Communities of Practice: groups of practitioners who share a common interest in a specific area of competence and are willing to work together (not a formal team).

Experiential Training that Supports KM Initiatives

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator: an instrument designed to figure out how you deal with people and situations and make decisions. Melissie Clemmons Rumizen, Ph.D., author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Knowledge Management, recommends using the MBTI to better understand the amount of types of codified information an organization requires and to better connect Communities of Practice.

Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence Workshops: low levels of social capital can prevent groups from confronting problems. Social capital is the way people work together, negotiate meaning and design the myriad decisions and transactions they make together every day. It is extreme ley difficult to imitate and replicate high levels of trust and collaboration. This is reflected by the growing tendency of competitors to try to hire away not just individuals, but entire teams.

The Emissary Process: Practicing scenarios in training can translate into real world breakthroughs. Often the structure of organizations, separate locations, different work tracks, varying work hours, can make it hard to work together effectively. Cross-functional teams have more than just physical barriers separating them. While the individuals within might share the same goal, each attacks in different ways, from different perspectives, with different agendas and at different points along the time line.

Feedback Systems Workshop: A good system encompasses a variety of feedback modes: written, face-to-face, on the phone, email, etc. And a good system is one that everyone on the team creates and sustains.

© 2007 Adventure Associates, Inc.