Talk:KM Certification

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Peter Malling, 2010/2/18

Do anybody else here have experience or knowledge about KM certification programmes? A google search refers to KMPro and their certifications and training programmes. Is this state of the art? Should one simply adapt their material and certification tests (if possible)? Or are there other, more influential organisations that we should partner up with?

BR Peter.

Dave Snowden, 2010/2/18

There is a sorry history to the various certification programmes - something which has been discussed at length on many a listserv. They are commercial models and are based on a particular perspective on KM. Their claims to certify the field as a whole do not stand up to investigation. THere are several Universities with KM Masters programmes which have been properly validated that would provide a better model.

For some of the history of KMPro and all the others its worth reading Patrick Lambe's paper

Dave Snowden Founder & Chief Scientific Officer Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd

Giora Hadar, 2010/2/18

Check for details.


Giora Hadar Knowledge Architect Federal Aviation Administration

Peter Malling, 2010/2/18

Thanks Dave and Giora,

Your replies are most helpful! Can any of the institutions in Giora’s list be recommended in particular?

BR Peter.

Giora Hadar, 2010/2/18


This list is provided for information only and is not intended to be all inclusive or contain recommendations. I've tried to make sure that these are accredited institutions. I welcome input from anyone who is aware of additional sources for KM certification and degree program anywhere. To make changes to the list, you have to be a member of and a member of this wiki. Otherwise, you can contact me directly.

Cheers, Giora

Eric Tsui, 2010/2/18

Pls link The Hong Kong Polytechnic University's M.Sc. in KM course to

Boris Jaeger, 2010/2/18

So you want to become a licened KM certification trainer, Peter? I guess the training guys who offer certification (or certificates) will drool over to get you in their boat. As far as I know KMPro currently is only serving the North American market. They claim to have chapters worldwide but I found no evidence so far. KM Institute ( is an other player offering certification. They went international and claim to provide the de-facto standard in KM certification ... KMCI (, the mother of all KM training (as I call it), is offering a certificate in KM and I guess the sell licences, too.

However, I would be very careful to engage with these providers because of their past (and current) behavior (see David's reference). As for KM Institute's and KMPro's course content I would like you to read the thread "KM Certification - one KM professional's opinion" in KMeduHub's linkedin group If you follow the links to the other group's discussion threads you'll get even more insights.

Well, as alternative to the above providers I can suggest, Knoco (, a UK-based KM consulting. They're offering franchising licences but they do not offer certification but training only.

Regards from South-western Germany, the most beautiful corner in the country, Boris Jaeger - "Curiosity is the beginning of all learning!" PS: If you want to keep up to date about the worldwide KM education market, subscribe to KMeduHub's website or community updates ( As it just started and as it is with costs for the KM education providers, currently there is not much to discover for KM education seekers. So for the moment KM education seekers can send their request to me (currently I know more than 300 providers).

Richard Lalleman, 2010/2/18

I think, first of all, when you are talking about professional certifications you need to ask yourself: why do we need it? For the sake of having an agreed standard in KM, or just to understand KM and getting valuable ideas how to implement knowledge sharing activities in your own business?

I think this is a key question you should ask yourself, because why do we want to let people share and create new knowledge? In my view this is because we need to become more creative and innovative to make sense of a fast changing environment. And because not one person alone can make sense of the messiness we are getting in, we need to collaborate. As a result, decision making occurs through diversity. And how can we work with this diversity? By attending an off-the-shelf course, do the standardized work? Of course, it will eventually result in a certificate - a paper you can show your peers. But is the stuff you have learned during such a course still valid in two year and do we want to have the standardized thinking? No, not if we want to have different thinking patterns in order to move through a changing environment! Therefore I do not believe you should focus yourself on KM certifications, but more thinking how you can enlighten your colleagues about the topic on a ongoing basis by which knowledge sharing will become a part of your business culture.

This might sound awkward out of the mouth of somebody who attended a MSc in Information and Knowledge Management in London and is currently working as external teacher in KM at the Hague University in the Netherlands. Probably experience is proving my point.

Instead of approaching KM as a discipline, I teach KM more as a philosophy that should become a part of every individual: from top management to the lower levels. In an interview ( with Dave Snowden and Larry Prusak they argue that KM does not have a guru who is saying what to do. KM is more complex than you think and therefore it is an interdisciplinary activity. That's why there are many people (from Prusak to Snowden to Stewart to Takeuchi) who are adding into the topic from various backgrounds.

So what is my role as external teacher and what do I think you should do? I am teaching the students to become the knowledge worker of the 21st century, a networker, or in the words of Seth Godin's latest book a 'linchpin' ( By successfully using networking tools and techniques, we are able to create and share new knowledge and - as a result - have more insights to make sense of and decide over new situations. Therefore I am teaching students how to use information sharing and networking tools and techniques. But of course before doing so, students should understand why this is so important. They need to understand why "knowledge is the new factor of production, with a focus on the intangible instead of the tangible, through which organizations are moving to services rather than goods" (Daniel Bell about the New Economy, 1976). So I always start outlining what happened in the past, what went wrong and what is happening now. I call it the KM evolution. After that I let students experience how to use technological solutions (like social media) and how to use socio-cultural solutions (like storytelling and the Future Backwards technique). Of course, both solutions are a selection of how you can create and share new knowledge.

So, to finish this message properly: I think you should use your network and invite different persons who can show the various aspects of knowledge creation and sharing. From social media guys and girls, to guys and girls working in branding (because staff members should know how to use social media as a tool and technique to share knowledge and collaborate, but also how to act in the open and public environment of social networks in order to maintain and strengthen the brand of the business, and encourage external stakeholders sharing their knowledge with you - because nobody is going to share to share, they need to have a kind of trust).

I believe only then the culture is moving from 'holding knowledge' to 'sharing knowledge'.

Kind regards,


Johannes Schunter, 2010/2/18

Hi Giora,

Great list! I think the KM Institute could be added:



Tammie Alzona, 2010/2/19

Dear Johannes,

Have you attended the KMInstitute?

I actually attended the 1 week KM certification program about 2 or 3 years ago. By the looks of their website, it seems that they have expanded a bit but when I attended, it was a very small enterprise mostly focused around Douglas Weidner’s experience. There were some interesting anecdotes but I don’t know how much you can expect to get out of a 1 week class and it’s quite expensive ($3995).

Johannes Schunter, 2010/2/19

Dear Tammie,

I did the KM Institute training around 2 ½ years ago, and I can confirm that it was mostly a one-man show. Therefore I’m a bit hesitant to give a normative (and inevitably subjective) review on the training. In general, one just needs to be prepared for what one gets: A set of knowledge and tools from one particular (but nonetheless valid) perspective of the KM world with an abundance of interesting experiences from that perspective. Several methodologies and tools which were presented I didn’t agree with or find useful, however, there are several knowledge pieces and principles which I found to be very valuable and true in my work, and until today I sometimes draw on them for strategic guidance.

As it often happens with training programmes where the trainers spend more time on training than on actually working day-to-day in the area they train about, there wasn’t any reference to current developments of, lets say the last 2-3 years. So in 2007, there was no mentioning of Communities of Practice, networking, bottom-up/peer-to-peer learning, wikis or Web 2.0 technology. But for that, you learn most by just listening to this community here anyway ;-)

Cheers, Johannes

Alain Berger, 2010/2/20

Dear KM Friends

First to tell you that I do agree with the main idea that KM doesn't mean the same thing in each mind.

Therefore, the idea is to choose to be in an organisation which does KM with the meaning you want! If I look at what does exist in France, unfortunately, it's very rare!

The second idea is to find a consultancy company doing KM according to your meaning! KM can be "Knowledge engineering", collaborative networking, Community of Practice, search technologies, semantic web, content management engineering, cognitive science, anthropology, etc., etc.

In France we don't really� have KM certification. But some universities are doing very nice things : Paris Dauphine LAMSADE with Pr Camille Rosenthal-Sabroux <> [IT approach] Paris Nanterre IPFA with Pr Philippe Carr� <> [Education approach] Paris LIP6 ACASA with Jean-Gabriel GANASCIA <> [Artificial Intelligence approach]

In switzerland HEC Gen�ve has a very good MBA with nice KM module contact Pr Michelle Bergadaa <> or Dr� Daniel Delmas <>

Good luck for your choice

Kind regards

Dr Alain BERGER Co Founder and General Manager Ardans

Dave Snowden, 2010/2/20

My general advice when people say they want to do a KM certification programme is as follows:

  1. avoid the commercial "certifiers" who offer you fancy initials after your name like the plague [ :-) ]
  2. ideally do a one year MSC/MA at a reputable university constructing modules from anthropology, philosophy, cognitive science and a few others (first year under grad level courses) with a thesis
  3. Otherwise take a MSc in KM from (i) a respected university and (ii) one which does not take an information centric approach

Dave Snowden Founder & Chief Scientific Officer Cognitive Edge Pte Ltd

Boris Jaeger, 2010/2/21


I agree with you in #1 but you should think about why people consider to do a certification in KM? In my opinion it is because they seek to get relevant information to act upon in a short time and they want to boost their career by adding an other title to their curriculum vitae, respectively. Therefore I would not suggest to do a full Master of Science (MSc) or Master of Arts (MA) as suggested in your #2. As for your #3 I would suggest to start with a (post-)graduate diploma or certificate in KM. These are often required for a MSc/MA and take less time but reuire a bachelor degree. So what would you suggest to people with no bachelor degree but a practical background or to people with a bachelor which does not meet the requirements of the (post-)graduate degree they want to apply for? Actually, there are options where you can study KM on a bachelor's level but a bachelor's degree takes much time.

So for the latter ones I would suggest to do a training offered by reputable training providers. Even If they do not provide a "degree" or "title" at the end, you can ask to get one - at least you could ask for a letter of attendance. That's what I did when I was studying English prior to my academic year in the US. Now I have an English language certificate. But strange, in order to start my MBA studies in the US I was still required to do a TOEFL test ( Actually, I knew that I can not avoid to take the TOEFL by the certificate but who knows for what this certificate can be god for in my future. At least I can put it on the wall of my office or somewhere else. When I was a student, I was also working in "Gemany's Disney Land", i.e. the Europapark, where I had to drive the Mississippi paddle steamer. As "skipper" I awarded kids who "successfully" steered the steamer with a certificate. Apart from the fact that the steamer was driving on a secure string and I only had a 15 min. introduction of how to drive it, the kid's certificate wasn't and still isn't accredited by any accrediting ship authority:)

These two little stories show the whole problematic of certifications and certificates obtained by training providers.

So carefully look behind the marketing brochures and statements of the providers, get background information about them, ask popular KMers about the provider's reputation/credibility, and other sutdents about their experiences. As for the certifications and certificates you should also be interested in which employers and proffessional associations/societies are accrediting them.

At least for the employers this information is missing totally. To get a complete picture about the whole KM education landscape is also a problem as the market is intransparent and there are sooooo many dispersed sources like this forum, where you can get information about the providers.

These are the reasons why I recently launched the KMeduHub ( with its communities on twitter, linkedin, facebook, and XING ( and its partner IKMEAA ( I want to make the market more transparent, provide spaces where people can discuss issues in KM education, and where they can exchange experinences about specific offers. Everything accessible from a single (!) major place. There are links to such discussions like here and other sources relevant to the issue of KM education. As for IKMEAA I want to create an independent conglomerate of experts, proffessional communities, and employers in order to improve and assure the quality in KM education.

Regards from sunny Germany, Boris Jaeger - "Curiosity is the beginning of all learning!"

Dave Snowden, 2010/2/21

I think you will find that most Universities are sympathetic to students without a first degree, but with relevant practical experience, and yes a post-graduate diploma may be an easier route. If doing one of those I would make sure that a good performance allows you to transfer to a higher degree.

If you are going down the reputable training provider route then I think thats fine - as long as they do not claim to certify or cover the whole field. I run public training courses in KM from time to time but I make no claim other than that the course provides my perspective on the subject. If people want a certificate of attendance fine, but those who give people fancy titles, claim to have the field covered in their courses are as far as I can see severely misrepresenting their capability.

Ewen Le Borgne, 2010/2/21

Hi all,

I agree with these comments, I don't think any KMer can safely claim to cover a ground as wide as KM - as illustrated by the various fields connected to it which Alain mentioned.

Another problem of certification, if it claims to be that all-encompassing KM experience, is that it again reinforces the idea of a 'body of knowledge' (sthg which I don't believe in, following Polanyi's -tacit- knowledge perspective) that can be 'transferred' (again a fallacy as information can be passed on but not knowledge) to someone else at one point in time.

An idea that has become essential for me in understanding knowledge processes is always to consider them as dynamic processes, not static ones. In other words, I don't think there is an exact 'point in time' in which one can ever show 'all that they know / can do (even after a training course). Instead I would say that we are composites of possibilities, capabilities and knowledge (as in a body of information and experience that we possess which can be called upon to be applied to a given use or purpose) and we operate in an environment that is is more or less conducive to using them. As a result I think a training course can at best give some more information, ideas and tools but it still doesn't mean that you can apply all that you have been trained on in a way that was expected. You will always add your 'personal touch' and give a new twist to what you have been trained on.

And as an ultimate result it just doesn't make sense to claim that a training course with proper certification will make you a great KMer as it were, because it depends too much on your own capabilities, potential, and possibilities to apply what you have been trained on.

Hoping this makes some kind of sense - enjoying the discussion and the current trend of revisiting a number of KM facts, fads and fables on KM4DEV these days.


Peter J. Bury, 2010/2/21

Gosh Ewen thanks for this response, but it takes the discussion at a much higher level:

"what can be achieved through education and training" and ... about what kind - in all respects - of education and/or training are we talking?

Can knowledge not be shared? Can one not learn from other people's knowledge? Maybe often information is a medium that is used to share knowledge? I would never ever talk about transfer anyway, to me its the most primitive arrogant concept I have come about in education and training. Thus the first 4 thoughts that come up! Ciao Peter

Peter J. Bury, 2010/2/21

Dave, while I agree with you fully, I suspect that many of us working Dev as in KM4Dev feel the strong pressure of our different types of clients and participants in KM-ish training to get a "recognized" certificate. And so the dilemma is there. I remember from my many years work in South Africa that they are crazy about certification, also of non-academic training (or education as it is often called there).

South Africans reading this are welcomed to respond critically to my statement above.

Greetings Peter J. Bury IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre

Dave Snowden, 2010/2/22

And its exactly that need which is exploited by the commercial certifiers. In fact the certificates are not recognised, it amazes me that any employer would take them seriously.

Charles Dhewa , 2010/2/22

Ewen and all,

Certification is definitely key for those new to KM and helps them separate wheat from chuff. It is very easy for people to call everything they are doing KM and this confuses many people. We need benchmarks. The process through which people pass towards certification enables balance between KM Theory and KM Practice. If, as KM practitioners, we run away with practising without re-visiting KM theories, we will be like runaway horses always struggling to define what we mean by KM.

Stellenbosch University in South Africa has a wonderful Masters in Information and Knowledge Management Programme (MIKM) which (to me) demonstrates the value of KM certification. I have found it extremely enriching.

Best wishes,


Joel Muzard, 2010/2/22

Hello Bonjour Ewen and all,

This is something that interest me.

I am been reflecting on that subject, KM Training, and have some experiences.

I have prepared , for example, a course for the ENAP-MONTREAL, and teach it, and another for RETO-RURAL (Non-for profit ONG) in Ecuador. Very different contexts. Very different participants, cultures, backgrounds and results.

The approach reflect my approach, as Dave Snowden was saying. My approach is about the co-construction of knowledge. It is based on Maturana and Varela «Biology of Knowledge» and Enaction, Damasio, Gardner, Freire and others. Reflecting on the context, on the learning -individual and social learning - the organization - and the tools humans and culture are building to learn and solve their challenges. We as humans are sort of wired to talk and learn in a social context. We learn building tools and language using some arbitrary symbols - artefacts, and we are continuously doing so. So dialogue, mutual knowledge, communication and co-construction are at the centre of our approach. The circulation of «knowledge» is important to me. In a context of dialogue, conversation. And in the context of a specific challenge that set specific constrains and possibilities of action. Starting from the very present. Also, new tools allow new social cognition synergy, only possible in the past when face to face. So we have to look at the social web and collaboration with social cognition now in a different way. Far from the Taylor or serial work approach that is present in some cultures of some organizations. Instant collab is now possible, and new ways of works also. If the organization wants to take advantage. It is now possible.

So now we can describe very easily and quick together what is the actual state of our environment, what we want to improve, decide what we want to achieve, and do it. Using the knowledge available. It is a different way of doing KM. Not after, but «as we work».

A more «static» description (in French) is at :

I am enjoying this conversation from Montreal.


Ewen Le Borgne, 2010/2/23

Hello Charles, Joel, Eric, all,

- Thank you Charles for your fair perspective - I really didn't mean to undermine certificates as is, and I completely agree with your point that we need to reflect on our theory and practice or we end up like runaway horses. What I would just like to emphasize is: there is a great deal of learning, capacity development, self-improvement that does not come from formal education and trainings (and certificates) and more in line with the discussion it is more the universal claims of quality and completeness of certain certificate-delivering companies that I question strongly. And thank you for sharing the reference about Stellenbosch University.

- And thank you Eric (and prof. Kinghorn) for putting forward some very interesting and (I think) useful perspectives about knowledge and knowledge management. I can only encourage you to continue in this way, the hard and complex way but the more intellectually rewarding and useful way to grapple with knowledge.

- And finally thank you Joel for your views on personal training experiences and on the possibilities of training courses with new online tools. I personally think your approach reflects a very useful and sound way of paying attention to the context and if anything I would go with your approach. I am not sure whether this is the case of most training courses and I also wonder how easy it is to create that shared context / understanding in an online training environment, but that's because I don't have experience with it though.

Very interesting perspectives!