Should Knowledge Managers look for a new job?

According to wikipedia (the body of all knowledge ;))

Knowledge Management (KM) comprises a range of practices used in an organisation to identify, create, represent, distribute and enable adoption of insights and experiences. Such insights and experiences comprise knowledge, either embodied in individuals or embedded in organisational processes or practice.

I assume that a Knowledge Managers are the once that execute knowledge management. And if so, I think most knowledge managers should keep on an eye on the jobs section in the paper. As a knowledge manager living in a Web2.0 world (or Web squared if you’d prefer) it is clear that the identification, creation, representation, distribution and the adoption of insight and experiences is something that is done by the group. You as knowledge manager cannot decide what information is important and what data can be knowledge. With the tools that are currently available (wikis, social software), the people can create, represent and distribute all information easily. And what is information for one person, is knowledge for the other and data for yet again another person.

The knowledge manager is becoming obsolete, since the group is regulating itself via the use of new tools. There isn’t one person or a small group of persons that can decide whether something is information, data or knowledge. That decision is personal and a group can decide better by using the tools available nowadays. If a certain document is downloaden 2000 times and has an average rating of 4 out of 5, than you may assume that document represents a certain quality, no need for knowledge manager to confirm or reject that. If there is an article and it is tagged 40 times with the tag ‘community’ and 2 times with the tag ‘vegetable”  it is likely that the main subject of that article is community, no need for a knowledge manager to claim that it is about vegetables, since the group already decided that it is mainly about community.

So what can a knowledge manager do? He can help people in how they should work with the new tools, what the common guidelines for tagging should be, how people should rate information, how people can share information. Not by providing them a strict set of rules, but by providing them guidelines on how they could work. The group decides what best for them, if chaos is best for them, than it is chaos. However after a knowledge has handed over the knowledge on how to use the system, he is really obsolete, the knowledge how to use the tools is recorded somewhere (probably in the tool itself) and can be shared freely throughout the enterprise and with new employees. If it requires an update: the group decides and will update it themselves. No need for a knowledge manager.

What can a knowledge manager do? How can a knowledge manager still adds value while his core competences are something that isn’t unique anymore and which is moved from a individual competence to something that groups of people can do better (as clay Shirky once said: the only group that can categorize everything is everybody). Where will knowledge manager adds value in the future, or won’t they, and will they end up in new jobs?

Published by rick

I solve digital problems.