What’s the "white space" occupied by KM?
One of the issues involved in developing the ISO standard for Knowledge Management has been the definition of the “White Space” KM occupies.
After all, if Knowledge management is to add any value as a discipline, it must cover areas not already covered by other disciplines. This was the main thesis of “The Nonsense of Knowledge Management” by TD Wilson, who argued that KM was partly or completely a rebadging of Information Management, and therefore a fad invented by management consultants to make themselves rich (I wish!). Knowledge Management must occupy a space of it’s own, surrounded by (but not totally overlapping with) other disciplines.
So when it came to defining the scope of KM for the forthcoming ISO standard, one of the things we looked at was existing standards for existing disciplines. Again, if a KM standard is to add value, it can’t be a rebadging of an existing standard.
There are many such adjacent ISO standards, either in existence of under development:
- There are ISO document management standards, so document management cannot (for ISO purposes) be seen as part of KM;
- There are existing records management standards, so records management cannot (for ISO purposes) be seen as part of KM
- There are innovation management standards under development, which means that ISO must treat innovation systems and KM systems separately,
- Similarly there are ISO standards for non-formal training and learning, and for content management as it applies to product documentation.
- There are no standards that address the value of tacit knowledge, and its expression, sharing, transfer and re-use;
- There are no standards that address the externalisation or documentation of tacit knowledge, and its internalisation and application by others;
- There are no standards that address the combination of knowledge from many sources in order to create new ideas and new knowledge;
- There are no standards that address the disposal of old knowledge (which sometimes is more dangerous than no knowledge at all).