In a recent article in Knowledge Management Research and Practice, I suggested that the problem of lack of agreement on what KM is, suggests four possibilities:
1. People can be doing KM and calling it KM;
2. People can be doing KM and calling it something else;
3. People can be doing non-KM and calling it KM; or
4. People can be doing non-KM and calling it non-KM.
And I also pointed out that if the ratio of what’s in the first category to the sum of the second and third is less than 1, than we may have a serious distortion of the track record of KM on our hands.
Now, I’m pretty sure that category 3 is awfully large, at least from the perspective of my own definition of KM as management activity intended to enhance knowledge processing, since I see all sorts of “KM projects” that are no more than attempts to enhance collaboration, content management, customer relationship management, or information sharing. However, what about category 2? Are many companies doing KM and calling it something else? I’m not in a position to answer this question definitively, and perhaps no one in KM currently is. However, perhaps we should start identifying those organizations with KM programs that have labeled them something else. If we begin to do this whenever we see such cases, eventually we’ll shed light on category 2, and begin to get a better picture of the real state of KM.