Knowledge Management 2.0
Knowledge Management and Web 2.0; strategies and best practices

April 22, 2013

Skills for Knowledge Management Leaders

Five core areas of skills should typically be sought in leaders charged with implementing or managing a Knowledge Management Program.

Most CKOs or KM Directors are typically either business practitioners with strong industry subject-matter expertise, or KM practitioners. In the former case where you have a subject-matter expert with little KM experience, the intricacies of establishing a KM Strategy and prioritizing the "right" KM initiatives can often be a difficult learning curve. Selecting the wrong KM initatives early on is one of the surest roads to KM failure. Selecting large resource-intensive efforts, or ones with poor measurability can leave reduce support for future initiatives.

In the latter case where you have a KM practitioner with little subject-matter expertise, learning the current business processes, goals and challenges becomes the primary learning curve. And one that is not insurmountable, especially if subject-matter experts are brought in as Knowledge Managers in support of specific lines of business.

In the ideal world, CKOs or KM Directors should have as many of the required skills below as possible. The five core areas of required skills should include:

1. Knowledge Management Experience
2. Learning Industry Experience
3. Technology Project Management
4. Matrix Management Skills
5. Industry Subject Matter Expertise

Knowledge Management Experience

  • In-depth understanding of KM principles

  • Knowledge of how to establish an aligned KM strategy

  • Experience prioritizing KM initiatives

  • Experience leveraging existing KM solutions and technologies

  • Experience successfully implementing new KM initiatives

  • Familiar with KM best practices and other corporate implementations

  • Industry thought leader in the KM space

  • Experience in community building, collaboration, workflow and change management

Learning Industry Experience

  • Experience with continuous learning solutions

  • Experience with various learning modalities and when to apply them; classroom, e-learning, synchronous web casting

  • Understanding on how KM and Learning integrate
Technology Project Management

  • Experience in technology project management

  • Experience translating business requirements into technical functional specifications

  • Experience as a liaison between the business and technology

  • Experience indirectly managing shared technology resources

  • Experience with various enterprise and web technologies

  • Experience in rolling out new technology solutions to the business

Matrix Management Skills

  • Comfortable in a matrix reporting environment

  • Skilled at enabling cross-functional teams

  • Skilled at consensus building and establishing business owner buy-in from multiple stakeholders

  • Service orientation from both an internal and external perspective

Industry Subject-Matter Expertise

  • Knowledge of the core business(es) KM is supporting

  • Knowledge of the strategy and goals of the business

  • In-depth knowledge of existing business processes and challenges

  • Familiarity with the industry including competition, market opportunities, etc.

  • Knowledge of the key stakeholders and influencers of the business(es)


  • I was going to post the comment below on your blog, but see that comments are for team members only.

    Interesting comments about KM leaders. I agree with the different ways people come into KM. To me it's a chicken and egg problem, know the people and business, or know the science that can be applied to the business and people. You need both.

    I came from the business side and have developed the KM experience. The key in coming from the business side (with little or no KM experience) are:
    1) The time and opportunity to learn (going to KM World, reading articles, training) and 2) the ability to bring in expertise when needed.

    The advantages in coming from the business side are 1)know the process, so it's easier to embed solutions, 2) know the language and people, and 3) know how to get support for your ideas within the business context.

    Some other ideas you may want to think about are in my job description posting

    Jeff Oxenford
    Knowledge Management Coordinator
    Awwa Research Foundation

    By Anonymous Jeff Oxenford, at 9:19 AM  

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