Knowledge Management, Communication, and Use


Knowledge Management (KM) is a hot topic. Many organizations and research communities look at it as their source of light and are eager to use, study, or tell others how to use it. In these activities, some organizations find themselves with severe burns.
Knowledge management is a kind of thing that escapes generalization. Any principle, general idea, or “lesson learned” related to the implementation of knowledge management, is subject to adaptation to the context that needs it. The process of adaptation becomes the core of the implementation.

Personally, I am still looking for the breakthrough that would make me say “wow.”


Knowledge management (KM) is yet another term to an eternal problem: creating knowledge and using it for action. Greek philosophers studied this problem. It had to do with the theory-practice distinction (i.e., theoria vs praxis).

Over the years the problem evolved in different ways but retained its essence. Only in the last 30 years, there have been numerous attempts to address it.

Other ideas that have to do with integrating and managing diverse knowledge for action (with focus to engineering) have sprung in the last two decades including: reengineering, concurrent engineering, agile manufacturing.

From this perspective, Knowledge Management has quite a bit of history including successes and failures; it is related to many other problems and technologies. Given this state, it is easy to realize that understanding what knowledge management means is a problem that suffers from information overload. The problem is not lack of information about what can be done in knowledge management, but which of the too many ideas, methods, tools, perspectives, disciplines that are involved should be selected for a particular situation. The problem is to digest this voluminous information and put it to action. … Indeed, we need the best knowledge management ideas to manage this knowledge! Unfortunately, as we say in Hebrew, “the shoemaker walks barefooted.” (If you want to read more about this point go to the reflective consistency principle page) Have you seen a knowledge management site, organization, or community that continually deploys and tests the state-of-the-art tools or principles they develop or advocate for?

If you think differently, check the knowledge management sites you get from Google, Yahoo, Vivisimo, Altavista, or any other search engine and let me know.

Some of my work on KM

Beside some of the pointers above that lead to general work related to KM, I had worked on more specific projects that had a significant part related to KM:

1.         n-dim – perhaps the most comprehensive, long-term research project on knowledge-management/ design support systems. Not publicized as much as his value warrants, but the knowledge created from this project is vast and comprehensive; it touches all aspects of knowledge management.

2.         Decision support systems – this project developed a general framework for developing DSS for problems that have difficult properties. So far, we used the framework for one project dealing with knowledge support for attendance officers.

3.         Case-based reasoning – a powerful method I’ve used in a variety of ways in several knowledge management research projects.

One note about the above projects: They have never come to the point that they could be used by me to support my own work. This goal is a serious driving force for additional work on the subject.


My old page on knowledge management 

Copyright © 1997-2006 Yoram Reich
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Last modified: 2/23/2006 11:53:00 AM