Knowledge Management: Audit

I enjoyed the two day Arc conference last week in Toronto on KM (nice to meet you in person, Connie!), and heard about a lot of projects that are forward looking and exciting. One debate that I found interesting was the distinction between “information” and “knowledge”. Some participants ignore the distinction and treat it all the same; others were fastidious about the distinction. My own view at this stage is that there is a significant distinction between the two concepts but considerable confusion. One speaker suggested that information remains information until a recipient receives it, analyzes it and acts upon it, at which point it becomes “knowledge”. I realize there are many books out there on KM that deal with this debate, but I thought I would toss it out into the Slaw world to see if anyone has strong views on this…

As part of our firm’s KM initiative, we are doing an audit of KM projects that are already in progress in our firm. Various pockets and practice groups are actively pursuing KM projects, even if they are not calling them “KM”, including our Research practice group. I am really looking forward to collecting all the information, seeing what is being done, and sharing it within the firm; I expect to be surprised at how much is already being accomplished.

If anyone has also done an internal KM audit recently and has any tips or suggestions, I would appreciate hearing from you. Also, if anyone has KM blogs/ feeds they recommend, I would welcome those also.


  1. Like many others, I’ve always taken the view that we are working with a continuum, from data to information to knowledge, with most KM projects being about strategically increasing value along that spectrum. I personally think of ‘knowledge’ at the far far end, at an almost unattainable point. Why? Probably because I still believe that knowledge is what’s inside people’s heads. Can it be codified? Can we describe absolutely everything we know about a topic in a written format? Even if I think the answer is ‘no’, there are times when these written ‘snap shots’ can come close, and certainly when we collect in a targeted way across varying institutional groups, the aggregation of these materials approximate what we consider ‘institutional knowledge’. And since companies aren’t people, and can’t have ‘knowledge’, the logic follows, these codified representations are the only thing we have.

    Is ‘knowledge’ the perfect word? No, but it works for me. :-)