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ISD Concept Map

Knowledge Management

...for thousands of years, humans have been discussing the meaning of knowledge, what it is to know something, and how people can generate and share new knowledge. - Rudy L. Ruggles, Knowledge Management Tools, 1997

Simply put, knowledge management is about capturing knowledge gained by individuals and spreading it to others in the organization in order to manage it better.

Although a number of management theorists have contributed to the evolution of knowledge management, such as Peter Drucker and Peter Senge; Ikujiro Nonaka makes knowledge management an official discipline when he is appointed as the first distinguished professor of knowledge at the University of California in 1997.

Knowledge management can be viewed from two perspectives:

Knowledge = Object: relies upon concepts from "Information Theory" in the understanding of knowledge. These researchers and practitioners are normally involved in the construction of information management systems, AI, reengineering, etc. This group builds knowledge systems, while the next group changes the way we use knowledge, which ultimately changes human behavior.

Knowledge = Process: concepts from philosophy, psychology, and sociology. These researchers and practitioners are normally involved in education, philosophy, psychology, sociology, etc. and are primarily involved in assessing, changing and improving human individual skills and behavior.

Knowledge Management, as we know it today, is generally considered to have begun in the 1950's when Alfred Sloan divisionalized General Motors. It sent a message of the techniques necessary for large-scale business management. Although that view has somewhat changed today with human talent as being viewed as the primary competitive differentiator.

With knowledge management, the unmeasurable must be measured:

Every organization — not just businesses — needs one core competence: innovation. And every organization needs a way to record and appraise its innovative performance." — Peter F. Drucker, Harvard Business Review 1995

There are normally thought to be two kinds of knowledge:

However, Karl Popper describes Three Worlds of Knowledge.

Robert Sutton, a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford's University School of Engineering, says companies have wasted hundreds of millions on worthless knowledge management systems (Computerworld (January 3, 2000, p. 28):

Knowledge management systems work best when the people who generate the knowledge, are the same people who store it, explain it to others, and coach them as they try to implement it. These systems must be managed by the people who are implementing what is known, not those who understand information technology.

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