Talk:What do knowledge managers spend their time doing

From KM4Dev Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search

See the original thread of this E-Discussion on D-Groups

Matt Moore, 2010/1/30


One thing I have been wondering is how knowledge managers spend their time. What % of time is spent doing different activities - e.g. technology implementation (ECM, Search, Collaboration, etc), community support activities (moderatoring, promoting, facilitating), organizational learning (AARs, peer assists), business research, training & development activities, etc.

Has any data around this been collected before?

(apologies for the cross-posting but it impacts all 3 lists).

ASTD produce some data concerning how training & development staff spend their time (not sure how trustworthy it is as it's from a very small sample).



Jaap Pels, 2010/1/30

Hi Matt,

A first rough guestimate for myself:

  • 5 days / week | 40 hours office time
  • 7 days / week | 20 hours noffice time

Around information streams 15% Around knowledge sharing 15% Networking 10% ICT management 15% Training / help desk 5% Other activities 20% (other projects) Overhead 20% (a dag / week)

But I think another scheme (see picture attached) will be more apt:

  • Knowledge sharing activities (dialogue | workshops | learning alliances | CoP | thematic groups | networks etc)
  • Process documentation (capturing what happened | learning | reflecting | writing | video | capacity dev. - skills & experience)
  • Information management (from publishing to blogging | scaling from individuals to groups to crowds | networks of people)
  • Versioning (getting those bodies - sometimes literal a person - of information fed into [other] dialogues / networks)

The above I call KnowledgeVIPping and of course anybody will be involved in multiple dialogues.

Technology (also ICTees) have huge impact. Many organisations / people / platforms experiment with capturing video while dialoging and all information will go digital. There is a 'web' (I coined that term here now :-)) hype going on. Social networks support daily dialogue across time / space (as opposed to the phone). Wikis demand from groups another attitude in editing / retrieving information which is the biggest hurdle apart from sourcing the loops (see below).

The simplest example. For a management team I set-up a workspace based on a wiki by SocialText. Instead off the e-mail circus form individual MT members amongst them and with the MT-assistant they all are working on the same - literal - page. They start a meeting with a template wiki page and start planning the agenda. Everyone contributes points and attaches back-ground documents | even a handwritten note can be scanned and e-clipped to the agenda.

Then the meeting starts; minutes are made on the same page as the agenda. All MT members are enabled to edit the minutes and when final the complete page is copied to a public page that will be 'scrubbed for classified information' and published in a public workspace (It use to be called Intranet). All meeting pages / attachments can be searched through; it is always on-line (and not in a propriety system or worse on the assistants PC / e-mail). You can imagine this is also handy for MTs being separated in space / time.

So the dialogue is the meeting, the process is documented / versioned from the start (back ground info is clipped to the agenda) till the final minutes resulting in information which is versioned back to the MT and staff.

In my view the elements are not that important, e.g. how much time / effort / money is spend on AAR, ECM, search etc; what matters is, is that the loop is closed and that has more to do with a group effort rather then knowledge managers spending time on a particular activity. To set up / facilitate / manage / service / stimulate / surprise / exit the loop in the course of time takes different activities in different intensity by knowledge managers. What really matters is the time it takes to close the loop. New ICT use makes it possible to speed that up and documenting while doing - real time - is possible. We do not accept it any more if the minutes of a meeting takes a month and we cannot get (retrieve /search) them ourselves and let us be honest: how many people use proceedings really? What you want from proceedings you have long before in your e-mail :-)

So KM is not 'Learning to fly' but 'Learning on the fly'.

Please shoot, Jaap

Peter Chomley, 2010/1/31

Matt, there was an original landmark study done by Booze Allen in 1978/9. Follow-up studies during the ‘80s (including in Australia) confirmed the original findings. They found knowledge workers spent their time : 8% reading reports; 13% creating documents/reports; 46% in meetings and follow-up (inc. on telephone); 85 analysing material; and 25% in “less productive activities”. Remember the study was done before email and other tools we take for granted today, were in use. Another small study in the early 90s found these figures hadn’t changed much despite email, lap-tops and other tools ….. how do you spend your day(s)? Information “search” is now a significant time user… Jaap … how do your figures reconcile to these figures? Peter

Matt Moore, 2010/1/31


I think it's fairly easy for all of us to put our work into conceptual frameworks that make sense to us & help us with what we do. I am interested in how the activities of KM teams differ from (or resemble) others at the day-to-day level. I want to avoid the conceptual frameworks and focus on the literal activities - because the latter are easier to generalize.

What do you mean by "information streams", what do you mean "networking"?


Matt Moore, 2010/1/31


These figures apply to knowledge workers in general. I'm after something different - which is what thise with the title "knowledge manager" do. And the level of detail I am after is probably higher than "reading reports" but more at the level I mentioned in the original email.

To go a bit deeper into my motivation, what I want to find out is: do knowledge managers spend all their time working on technology infrastructure projects? If not, what else are they doing? And how much of each thing?



Jaap Pels, 2010/1/31


May be not "spend all their time working on technology infrastructure projects?" but using them intense .... you send e-mail from your phone :-)

Also, "If not, what else are they doing? And how much of each thing?" as I wrote make sure the loop (discuss <-> information) is closed.


Peter Chomley, 2010/2/7

Matt may be I'm completely wrond or have an uncommon view on knowledge management. To me KM is primarily an individual affair but some organizations and companies deliberately try to develop group or network based KM. I believe IRC, where I work is one of them, even though internally we have very different understanding of what KM really is all about.

I tend to describe it in a very simple way:

KM is about providing overview, facilitating access and supporting (enhanced) use of existing knowledge (including all its derivatives: data, information and maybe wisdom) to those people I, or the group in which I work, believe should be empowered to benefit from the KM I'm involved in.

Now whether that is 1 minute a day or over 8 hours a day depends in the end of your own responsibilities and tasks and you courage to spend maybe more on it that you are supposed to.

What do you say? What do others say? Lets keep the understanding of KM as simple and clear as possible. Obviously the above understanding merits some examples, I should document some, I know. So simple... that if you explain it to your grandmother, she would understand and possibly even say "hey that is very nice of you".

Peter on a Sunday even on Scheveningen.

Peter J. Bury IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre

Benjamin Addom, 2010/2/8

Hello Peter,

Just wanted to know why you limited your definition of knowledge management "existing knowledge"? (See the definition quoted below).

I think it should include new knowledge generation as well. What do you or others think?



KM is about providing overview, facilitating access and supporting (enhanced) use of existing knowledge (including all its derivatives: data, information and maybe wisdom) to those people I, or the group in which I work, believe should be empowered to benefit from the KM I'm involved in.

Peter Chomley, 2010/2/7

To me developing new knowledge is more the realm of (participatory)(action)(academic) research and hence of a very different nature than managing knowledge as in my definition. But I know this is not a very widely shared view. For instance in IRC, though we are a 'matrix' organization we have sub-divided our hopefully integrated work in :

  1. Knowledge Development (new knowledge);
  2. Capacity Development in the very wide sense of the work;
  3. Information and Communication.

Does that make sense?


Peter J. Bury IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre

Ueli Scheuermeier, 2010/2/8


When I read your post I wondered: How do you differentiate between "managing knowledge" and "developing knowledge"?

In RAVI (Rural African Ventures Investments) we've been discovering that there usually are big gaps between

  1. technical proof of concept (="we know how and why this thing works"),
  2. operational proof of concept (="we know how to make this thing work in the physical/social/political environment it was designed to be working") and
  3. financial proof of concept (="we know how to organize the resources to keep this thing working").

Where most projects have to stop is at the operational proof of concept, because then it has to either become a publicly funded thing (public domain stuff) or it has to go commercial. Donor funded projects MUST stop there or face legitimate concerns by both governments and/or private sector of undue sovereign interference or unfair competition.

I estimate that only about half of the stuff development projects do reaches real operational proof of concept that stands up to close scrutiny (ie. once you look past the typical development jargon and window dressing in the reports and check on what WORKS on the ground, as opposed to just what has been achieved). And of that only about a fourth then manages to cross the gap to financial proof of concept.

Crossing the gaps AFTER technical proof of concept has been demonstrated is what interests me (just take for instance solar technology, and it's interaction with clean water, etc. or rural energy in general).

So I wonder:

  1. What is knowledge "development"?
  2. What is knowledge "management"?