One of the things I like about knowledge management is the range of activities that fall under its wide subject umbrella. There are many different explanations about knowledge management. David Gurteen has captured such opinions on his media player section on his website (just scroll through the list in galleries and look for what is knowledge management? and you will get a nice list of Google Video clips to select from).
The variety of tools, processes, and deliverables are certainly broad and interesting. However, this broad scope and lack of precise definition have been used by critics to claim that knowledge management is a nonsense. However, I must say that I prefer a more flexible approach. At the most basic level, knowledge management is about managing and/or facilitating the intellectual, human, and social capital of organisations and networks. The great thing about this is the capability to utilise technologies and people for knowledge management, thereby maximising two of the most dynamic features of organisational structure and organisational learning.
I was talking about knowledge management today with a chap from PriceWaterhouseCoopers when discussing the tension between spread and depth. Because knowledge management does have such a wide spread of activities and capabilities, it is sometimes easy to work across many of them without sufficient depth. When I say depth, I mean the level and extent of working with, or in, the knowledge management process or activity itself.
The challenge is to try and find the right balance between utilising the knowledge management umbrella without losing sight of the depth to which individual knowledge management tools and processes can be harnessed and utilised. At the same time, as someone with a strong interest in words and meaning, I do have some sympathy for those who struggle to come to a precise and definitive meaning for knowledge management. Que sera sera.