||The Knowledge Profession Comes of Age
Debra M. Amidon
Just as we are seeing different professions converging on
the 'Emerging Community of Knowledge Practice' (see my article in Knowledge Inc 3/97), we
are seeing the emergence of specialist knowledge professionals. In our report, Creating the
Knowledge-based Business, we listed (pages 334-337) the variety of new titles and job
responsibilities appearing in a variety of functions - knowledge engineer, knowledge
editor, knowledge analyst, knowledge navigator, knowledge gatekeeper, knowledge brokers,
knowledge handyman, knowledge asset manager, knowledge steward or shepherd etc. And these
do not include the facilitation and coaching roles nor the functional job titles which are
assuming the leadership role in many companies.
In recognition of this, we are now starting to see the
emergence of recruitment organizations specifically geared to these new posts. Unlike other recruitment web
sites that electronically matches jobs to job seekers, the knowledge about knowledge
specialists is itself highly specialized and relies much on tacit knowledge. Knowledge
Jobs is therefore a highly confidential, executive level recruiting competence for
organizations interested in formalizing knowledge strategy and operations capabilities.
||Knowledge & Innovation
Individuals have strong background in shaping and formulating knowledge-based programs.
Many have developed best practices for global Fortune 1000 Companies. Most are highly
skilled in a variety of disciplines including business process improvement, innovation,
performance measurement & modeling, case history, facilitation, strategic integration
and developing best practices. Chief Knowledge Officers are part of this group as are
Knowledge Management Professionals have expertise in implementation. They
ensure a company gains from management of knowledge. They are involved in all phases of
Innovation (Knowledge creation, knowledge acquisition, knowledge sharing, knowledge
conversion, knowledge commercialization. Career background may be in any functions, e.g.
Finance, Human Resources, Quality, IT, R&D, Manufacturing, Sales, Service).
||Knowledge Catalogers, Researchers
& Media Specialists:
These are contributors whose skills are web site, internet and intranet developers,
librarians, catalogue specialists, content developers, communicators, software designers
and developers, middle managers and others who create the knowledge networks and links.
||Knowledge & Competitive
Emphasis focuses on competitive intelligence. Heavy research, the ability to create and
develop solid positions, on line research savvy mixed with the ability to cogently and
concisely present ideas in a clear and concise format are well developed skills. Writing
and presentation skills are strong.
||Knowledge & Strategic
Composed of top strategists, thinkers, planners, marketers, and individuals
with senior management experience. These folks make planning and strategy the engine for
business improvement and growth.
Theorists & Visionaries:
This group focuses primarily on discussion within an academic setting and
developing and testing models and applications. Visionaries are thought leaders who are
frequently well in front of the practice. These individuals make outstanding speakers and
can stimulate your organizations thinking.
Trainers & Corporate Educators:
These individuals focus on learning and education in a corporate setting.
Many have created outstanding models and programs for linking external and internal
audiences, designing and developing curriculums, implementing distance learning and
creating custom-tailored courses for executives and senior managers.
||Knowledge & Expert
One facet of knowledge and knowledge management is expert systems and how to
institutionalize corporate knowledge. Individuals in this area include Systems
specialists, Technologists, Chief Information Officers, Technology Transfer Specialists,
Expert Systems Engineers, Project managers and others who primarily focus on information
In our research report - Creating the Knowledge-Based Business,
we dedicate an entire chapter to the 'Roles and Skills for the Knowledge Age.' Our
findings indicate that:
||As organizations become more knowledge-based, new
knowledge roles are emerging and the roles of existing knowledge workers are changing.
||Some of the new roles encountered were knowledge editors,
knowledge navigators, analysts and brokers. All play a part in linking some knowledge
process to day-to-day activities.
||All roles require more knowledge creation (creativity) and
knowledge-sharing. This shift requires more hybrid knowledge and skills, including
organization/business knowledge, and general management skills, such as networking,
communication and relationship building.
||No correlation was found between competency planning and
knowledge management initiatives. There seems to be a consensus that competence is as much
about behaviors as it is about knowledge and skills.
||There is a growing focus on learning. In turn, this
reflects a shift from training to student-centered learning linked to on-the-job
activities. Several ways are used to create such a learning environment, including open
learning centers, links with universities and the use of 'safe-to-fail' simulation tools
and board games.
||There is a strong correlation between knowledge-based
organizations and learning organizations, with strong interest shown in Peter Senge's five
disciplines. However, explicit linkage between knowledge activities and learning requires
development in many organizations, such as through 'lessons' learned centres.
Successful knowledge-based companies depend upon how
successful individual knowledge workers create and apply new ideas productively and
efficiently (i.e., how they innovate). This requires new roles, new skills and new ways of
developing organization capabilities that continuously improve, such as through
Many of us are contacted for references of people who might
be candidates for certain positions. Usually, we give our insight and experience freely
and for free.