The APQC Blog

5 Weird Terms that Knowledge Management People Use

New to knowledge management (KM)? It’s easy to feel lost in the lingo at first; but you’ll learn the ropes quickly, because KM is a structured solution for a problem most of us have faced before: how do we connect people with what they need to know, so that they can do their best work?

For example, I recently moved and had to switch a utility service to my new townhouse. But when the service guys showed up, they started running into problems. Everything seemed in order in the house, so it must have been a problem with the box outside.

Now here’s where KM comes in: our next-door neighbor had the same provider successfully install service, and not too long ago. The guys knew that the exact same problem had probably been encountered before, when service was installed next door. But out in the field and in the flow of work, they could not pull up any information about that work order. They couldn’t access a report that would show how the problem was solved, and they could not find out who fixed the problem before so they could call that person for advice. A lot of time and effort could have been saved if these guys could easily surface the knowledge they needed, when they needed it!

Once you start learning about KM, you start seeing it everywhere. Check out these five KM terms and definitions, and you’ll start to see—this stuff isn’t so weird after all. For more key KM terms and definitions, check out our new Knowledge Management Glossary. It’s free to non-members.

Critical Knowledge: Knowledge that is valuable and durable enough to offer a sustainable, competitive advantage that justifies the cost of retaining it and transferring it from employee to employee.

Communities of Practice (CoP): A network of people who come together to share and learn from one another face-to-face, virtually, or both. Communities are held together by common goals and purposes supported by a desire to share experiences, insights, and best practices.

Knowledge Map: A visual representation of an organization’s internal and/or external knowledge resources.

Lessons Learned: A knowledge-sharing approach that helps employees reflect on and capture lessons and proven practices from projects or events. Lessons learned activities typically focus on questions such as “what did we do right?” and “how can we improve to be more effective in the future?”

Tacit Knowledge: Knowledge that resides in the minds of individuals and is surfaced in response to a situation or action.

You can follow me on Twitter @mharperKM

The views expressed here are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.