So this morning's Google Alerts on "Knowledge Management" brought a post from Daniel Tunkelang of The Noisy Channel on Knowledge Management is a Process. Daniel was praising Lynda Moulton for taking on CIO Magazine (one of its authors) for proclaiming that “search is being implemented in enterprises as the new knowledge management” and her (Lynda's) response that “knowledge management (KM) is not now, nor has it ever been, a software product or even a suite of products” (more on Lynda's post here). Well of course not...
Planning, Organizing, Leading and Controlling are what the Business schools teach as the components of Management philosophy. Each of these pieces of management can be done just fine without any software tools....Physical clip boards, manual Gantt charts, and a stop watch (time-motion studies) worked just fine until better methods such VisiCalc, Lotus Notes, and MS Project came along. Yeah, software does not an industry make - software is just an enabler to better perform the required function.
So one problem that Knowledge Management has is a lack of definition. After years of evolving management philosophy, the 4 concepts above are generally agreed as components of management (with only slight disagreement or refinement of terms). However, look at Wikipedia and how it shotguns KM:
Add that to the concept of where KM belongs:
And so we get, as I have described, any number of technologies looking to enable the processes that facilitate the mangement of knowledge. The various components of managing knowledge (after action review, storytelling, knowledge capture, content management) then get cross-bred with IT, HR, and Strategy solutions, adding exponentially to the products available to help 'manage knowledge.'
Even in a simplistic KM definition of "capture, codify and disseminate knowledge to stimulate knowledge re-use or innovation," we invite a lot of interpretation for ways to enable that process. Some Vendors, or the general public, revolt against aligning software under KM, while other quickly add their product name to the KM list.
The key is that we must always remember what Daniel has said, which is that Knowledge Management is a process...and still a developing philosophy....all else is merely the means to the end.
In this day and age, how broad the paint brush strokes will typically be defined by vendors and policed by users.