When I started to take an interest in knowledge management and read more about it, I realized that it is comparatively a new branch and has been discussed and documented recently. Even though humans have been engaged in knowledge management activities for thousands of years, formal studies began in half a century.
KM is a multidisciplinary field, and hence there are over 100 definitions of it available which are compiled by Girard and Girard (2015). Based on the industry and field that one belongs to, a particular definition might make more sense than others. Based on my understanding of KM, the industry that I work in, and different departments with whom I interact and closely work as a knowledge worker, my preferred definition of knowledge management is:
Knowledge management is a recurring, multidisciplinary, collaborative, and integrated approach to identifying, creating, capturing, organizing, accessing, and disseminating an enterprise’s tangible and non-tangible knowledge assets that enhance organizational memory and productivity.
– Ashish Kulkarni
The process of knowledge management must be recurring in nature as it needs to be updated with best practices and lessons learned. For example, a knowledge piece that was last updated in 2012 may not be very helpful in 2022 and hence needs to undergo reiteration and updates to keep the knowledge piece relevant and useful.
KM is and will always be a multidisciplinary field involving multiple organizations, teams, and individuals working towards a common goal working in collaboration in an integrated approach instead of working in silos.
It is crucial that people involved in the KM process can proactively identify knowledge that needs to be a part of the KM process instead of working on knowledge pieces presented to them. In addition, the knowledge pieces captured need to be organized in a manner that they can be access-controlled and disseminated in a hierarchical fashion, which remains easy to identify, search and consume by the end-user.
Several other definitions are available for us to understand the KM; I have discussed my preferred definition of KM above based on my understanding and observations.
Girard, J. P., & J. L. Girard. (2015). Defining knowledge management: Toward an applied compendium. Online Journal of Applied Knowledge Management, 3(1), 1–20.