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How do you know?

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Do you believe that knowledge exists, on its own, waiting for us to discover it? Or do you believe that knowledge is created by people and exists only in our heads? Maybe you believe that knowledge is created socially, based on our experience of the world. And what about the knowledge of a profession? How does that work?

If you believe that knowledge exists on its own, then its easy to manage it right? You just get people to write down what they know. Then we can all read it and become instantly knowledgeable. Try it for yourself. Sit down with a piece of paper and a pen. Or your iPad. Whatever. Write down everything you know.

Why are you laughing?

Youre right, of course. It isnt that simple. Welcome to the world of the Knowledge SIG...

Whatever your beliefs about knowledge, you probably think its important. And it is! There are some fairly obvious reasons for managing knowledge to make sure mistakes arent repeated and to avoid reinventing the wheel, to name just two. A rather less obvious reason for caring about knowledge is that projects exist to combine the knowledge of individuals and organisations, and to create new knowledge. But how many projects really pay attention to knowledge? Its more likely that your projects focus on goals and deliverables.

Thats why weve created the Knowledge SIG. Organisations that are good at managing knowledge have one thing in common they recognise that its important and do something about it. The question, of course, is what?

There is, unfortunately, no one-size-fits-all recipe for managing knowledge. There are some basic principles and there are hundreds of tools and techniques. Youre probably using some of them already. Over the next few months the Knowledge SIG will be running events that cover the basic principles and explore some of the tools and techniques. We will cover knowledge management AND information management (and yes, they are different but well try not to get too hung up on definitions). Well delve into the world of collaboration and co-operation, and touch on social media and social networking. We also hope to get involved with the development of APMs own knowledge strategy and contribute to discussions about managing the knowledge of the profession.

Beyond that, its up to you. In the words of Samuel Johnson:

Sir, I have found you an argument; but I am not obliged to find you an understanding.

Unlike Dr Johnson, though, we will do our best to help you find an understanding. What do you want to know?

"With thanks to Victor Newman for the write down everything you know idea".

Judy Payne

Posted by Judy Payne on 5th Sep 2012

About the Author

Judy works as a management consultant and reluctant academic specialising in knowledge management, collaborative working and learning. Her work is positioned firmly on the boundaries between academia and practice. Not the most comfortable place to be, but there’s such a huge gap between the two that there’s a lot of bridging to be done.

Judy works with public, private and third sector organisations to improve their management of knowledge, with universities to develop and deliver online degree programmes and with master’s students to help them learn how to do management research. At APM, she co-founded the Knowledge SIG and is co-chair of the K SIG committee. She has contributed new knowledge management sections to the sixth edition of the PMBOK® Guide and to P3O® Best Management Practice, and represents the UK as an expert on an ISO Working Group developing a knowledge management standard. She is writing a book on KM in project environments.

Judy is also known for introducing collaborative working and social software to the Henley Knowledge Management Forum and for being a member of the #teatowelclub on Twitter.

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