Author: Melissie Clemmons Rumizen, Ph.D.
Publisher: Alpha Books, 2001
Are you trying to learn more about “knowledge management?” Are you struggling to find time to catch up with your professional reading? Are you reading during your commute via subway or bus? If you are putting little snippets of time to productive use reading, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knowledge Management” by Melissie Clemmons Rumizen, Ph.D., might be the perfect book for you. While the author holds a Ph.D., she writes like a normal person. You can tell that Dr. Rumizen has plenty of practical experience establishing and guiding knowledge management (KM) efforts. Best of all, you can fly through her 284-page book, pick up quite a bit of useful information in a very short period of time, and not have to take any additional ibuprofen.
The guide is divided into six parts. In part one, the author covers all the buzzwords and provides basic KM history, definitions, and concepts. She defines knowledge and makes the basic distinction between tacit knowledge (which is internalized as intuition, experience, etc.) and explicit knowledge (facts that can be written down and shared). She also discusses the business reasons driving enterprises into KM and shares a few KM success stories. Then, the guide introduces new KM job titles and roles such as Chief Knowledge Officer and Chief Learning Officer. With our introduction to KM complete, part two of the guide dives into the practicalities of getting KM efforts started. Dr. Rumizen shares practical tactics on how to gain executive sponsorship and support for a pilot project. She elaborates on basic KM infrastructure, communities of practice, and other means of connecting people. Since intranets, directories, and collaborative tools can play an important role in KM, part three is devoted to a general overview of some applicable IT technologies.
Since human issues and cultural change are central to any KM program, part four of the guide returns to organizational culture. Dr. Rumizon defines culture and directs our attention towards important ways that it can influence the success of a KM program. She discusses how to harness culture, sensitively manage change, and how to shine the light of publicity on successful KM efforts. The fifth section of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knowledge Management” provides strategies for establishing useful measures and metrics for measuring the success of KM projects. Finally, in her sixth section, Dr. Rumizen provides tips for ensuring the long-term success of KM efforts within an organization and supplies extra information about how KM principles can be applied our personal affairs.
The “Idiot’s Guide” series of books are known for making complex topics accessible to the general populace. Of course, this strength can be a weakness in some ways. When the author takes the time to provide tutorial information about the nature and KM benefits of some basic technologies like the Internet, intranets, e-mail, and message boards, it is easy for a computer-literate reader to become a little impatient. However, even these discussions are a quick read and contain a few tidbits of learning for seasoned IT professionals. Like many introductory KM books, much of “The Complete Idiots Guide to Knowledge Management” is aimed at management-level readers. Data management leaders may also find Dr. Rumizen’s advice on organizational culture and metrics invaluable. Much of her advice could easily help anyone tasked with changing an organizational culture and establishing new ways of doing business.
Overall, the minor criticisms of this book are far outweighed by it’s accessibility and usefulness. As an idiot’s guide, this book makes great use of sidebars, to provide definitions, tips, and useful tidbits of information. The format and Dr. Rumizen’s writing style work wonderfully. If you need to learn more about KM and value your time, “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Knowledge Management” provides an excellent portable primer filled with practical advice for anyone leading projects in this growing field.