KM is like an iceberg…

I recently came across one of the best explanations of ‘How to talk about Knowledge Management‘ on Anecdote.com. The author’s explanation resonated strongly with my own ideas and I would like to share these with you.

The first thing I liked was the story they shared at the beginning. The idea in brief was that a knowledge management project had been launched in the organization and after much enthusiasm, it became an IT project with most knowledge being ‘captured and stored’ in a database. This is something I can relate to as I encounter it over and over again.

Thankfully, the first section of the 5 page paper (it’s short and consice!) explains the difference between Knowledge and Data/Information. They use the metaphor of an iceberg where the tip (above water) represents data and information, the iceberg below water represents knowledge in people’s head and the water the iceberg is floating in represents the organizational culture.

In a nutshell, managing stuff that is visible – above the water line – requires a different set of skills and tools than managing stuff you can’t see. Rather than looking at databases, folders and search engines, knowledge requires tools such as talking, listening, sharing, relationships and trust (to name a few).

Differentiating between knowledge and information is a good first step to ensuring everyone involved in a KM project is working toward the same vision.

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