Friends and contacts ask me what I'm looking to do in my next career, and it isn't always clear what to call the role. What do you call a job that where people do things like:
- find ways to help people work together more effectively (collaboration)
- reinforce that what people know is of critical importance to the success of the organization
- this knowledge does no good locked under one roof; decide how to make best use of it (strategically, tactically)
- establish that we don't know everything (individually; internally), and that we must reach out to others for assistance
- define the ways to reach out to others that make sense for the organization
- work with individuals to develop/reinforce good personal KM practices
- work with the group to decide what personal practices make the most sense for them for working together
- given this, and more, what people / processes / tools do we need to make it work?
These are some of the elements of what I've been calling knowledge manaegement. But given the relatively few positions out there, I suspect that other people use different terminology. If you focus on information, you might go one direction. If your focus is on learning / training you might go another. And being in the market for KM-type roles, I find that searching the job listings for "knowledge management" to be not the most fruitful activity out there. I've looked for the IBM-emphasized term "social business," and for "collaboration," and other combinations.
What do you call it?
Of course, one of the reasons I enjoy the area of knowledge management so much is that there are many different ways to approach it: organizational design, technology, information science, learning, innovation, anthropology, etc, etc. That makes for interesting definitions - they all depend on your approach.
These thoughts are inspired by a lunch with Johanna Rothman, author of Hiring The Best Knowledge Workers, Techies & Nerds: The Secrets & Science Of Hiring Technical People (and several others). There's even a chapter on "what do you call that" when job titles don't exist.
[Photo: "Unknown seaweed" by J Brew]