Originally published October 20, 2014

In the SIKM Leaders Community, Patti Anklam recently asked for suggestions about what makes knowledge managers effective. She cited my list:

  • Share what you have learned, created, and proved
  • Innovate to be more creative, inventive, and imaginative
  • Reuse what others have already learned, created, and proved
  • Collaborate with others to take advantage of what they know
  • Learn by doing, from others, and from existing information

to which she added:

  • Connect people
  • Work out loud
  • Pilot and prototype; refine; repeat

Dave Simmons suggested this list:

  1. Drive for most valued information in an organization
  2. Write once and use many ways
  3. Spot information pain as a KM opportunity
  4. Link all KM content to business metrics
  5. Start small and build both supporters and content (Sinclair “Stealth KM”)
  6. Be prepared to speak IT, BusinessSpeak, budget, Content, Process, and HR when addressing KM
  7. Know your constituents’ metrics for success

John Hovell suggested using my SAFARIS list:

  1. Share a link, tip, trick, or insight
  2. Ask a question to collaborate with others
  3. Find a resource, person, or site
  4. Answer someone’s question
  5. Recognize a colleague’s contribution or achievement
  6. Inform about what you are working on, where you are, or where you will be
  7. Suggest an idea and solicit input using a poll

Patti synthesized the resulting discussion in this list:

  1. Share Relentlessly what you have created and what you are learning. Be a role model for those around you.
  2. Search First looking to find, reuse, and refine what others have done before creating something from scratch. Listen to what others are saying.
  3. Communicate, Ask and Answer in the Open using email only when absolutely necessary. Make your work and your talents discoverable by working out loud. TAG, TAG, TAG what you create so others can find it.
  4. Seek Active Collaboration for tasks both small and large. The sum is always greater than the parts.
  5. Build Social Capital as if it matters as much as financial. Build your personal network and connect people so they can enhance theirs.
  6. Act on Your Ideas for creating and sharing knowledge. Leverage company KM resources.
  7. Improve your Knowledge and Skills with KM Tools and Practices by learning one new thing every day (and then go to #1 and share).

In a recent LinkedIn post, Jean-Claude Monney offered three tips:

  1. Be a Knowledge Citizen — Display accountability for sharing, re-using and improving collective knowledge to create greater value.
  2. Be Social with a purpose — Be an active participant of your organization’s Communities of Practice.
  3. Be Digital — Studies show that 50% of your productivity comes from individual task performance and 50% from collaboration.

In The seven habits of highly effective knowledge leaders, Cindy Hubert of APQC lists these:

  1. Focus on what matters.
  2. Embed knowledge in the flow.
  3. People approaches make system approaches work.
  4. Be there at the teachable moment.
  5. Leverage the culture you have.
  6. Don’t reinvent best practices.
  7. Watch where the puck is going.

In a previous post, I shared three other tips:

  1. Articulate the end-state vision: what does it look like when it is working?
  2. Start working on getting to the vision right now, in small steps, and with measurable progress.
  3. Define compelling use cases: don’t talk about adoption or rollout of a tool — talk about the advantages of using it over existing alternatives.

What makes for a successful knowledge manager?

Knowledge management is everyone’s responsibility, not just the work of knowledge managers. But knowledge managers are needed to raise awareness, align knowledge actions with business priorities, promote a knowledge sharing culture, engage senior leadership, manage the infrastructure, and support all knowledge workers.

Good knowledge managers are part connector, part maven, and part salesman, to use Malcolm Gladwell’s terms from The Tipping Point. Not everyone is a connector, maven, or salesman. So those who play these roles, and especially, those who combine more than one of these roles, can function as power knowledge workers, facilitating knowledge flow throughout the organization.

Knowledge managers know how to use KM tools, how to ask others for help, who should be connected to whom, who would benefit from a piece of information, and how to persuade others to use information effectively. One role of a knowledge manager is subscribing to many information sources, belonging to many communities, and reading many publications, always looking out for what may be useful to others in the organization.

Good knowledge managers regularly inform their management colleagues about an article, book, presentation, or con call which was relevant to their areas of responsibility. These colleagues can subscribe to the same sources and join the same communities, but if not, they will appreciate being selectively alerted when content applies to them.

Effective KM Leaders

KM leaders should:

1. Lead by example

  • Practice what you preach
  • Become an expert in the tools that you want others to use
  • Get respected leaders to model desired behaviors

2. Set three goals for everyone

  • Simple, fundamental, measurable
  • Consistently communicate and leverage
  • Widely communicate and inspect

3. Recognize those who demonstrate the desired behaviors

  • Praise
  • Reward
  • Promote

KM leaders need to perform the following tasks:

  1. Improve business results by institutionalizing a knowledge sharing culture. With the help of the senior executive and the other leaders in the organization, take steps to achieve a positive culture which rewards caring, sharing, and daring.
  2. Define, maintain, and execute the KM implementation plan for the organization. This is the overall program plan for the KM initiative.
  3. Define, communicate, and implement people, process, and technology components for sharing, innovating, reusing, collaborating, and learning. These are the core elements that enable the KM program.
  4. Define KM measurements and rewards for the organization and KM goals for all relevant members. This aligns individual and organizational objectives.
  5. Report regularly on the organization’s performance against KM metrics. This lets the leadership team know how the program is progressing.
  6. Implement action plans for people, process, and technology projects. These are the detailed implementation plans for each project leader.
  7. Lead the organization’s KM teams. These include the program staff, the core team, and the KM community.
  8. Manage the organization’s KM communications. This keeps all users informed on the program.
  9. Actively participate in communities. Model the desired behaviors by being visible as a leader and member of multiple internal and external communities.
  10. Network with other KM Leaders. Demonstrate the use of social networks to stay current in the field of knowledge management.

Profile of an Effective Knowledge Manager


  1. Management: supervised people, led work teams, managed a business or functional unit
  2. Project management: successfully managed projects to meet deadlines, provide deliverables, and adhere to budgets
  3. Communications: published documents, gave presentations, and managed communications programs
  4. Top 50 Knowledge Management Components: for many of these, performed evaluations, led implementation projects, and used them regularly
  5. Reputation: has earned the respect of people both inside and outside of the organization based on accomplishments, networking, and communications


  1. Leadership: able to influence others, lead work teams, and manage projects
  2. Communications: excellent at writing, speaking, presenting, and using a variety of communications vehicles
  3. Process and Technology: able to quickly learn and master a wide variety of tools and processes
  4. Top 50 Knowledge Management Components: expert at using many of these
  5. Analysis: able to seek input, analyze information, consider alternatives, and make good decisions


1. Adaptable

  • Flexible: willing to try different courses of action
  • Resilient: overcomes difficulties, withstands setbacks, and meets challenges
  • Open-minded: considers the opinions of others

2. Assertive

  • Takes initiative
  • Consistently achieves challenging objectives and meets commitments
  • Makes effective decisions in a timely manner

3. Calm

  • Maintains a high level of performance even when under pressure
  • Even-tempered even when dealing with unpleasant circumstances
  • Balances logic and emotions when interacting with others

4. Client-focused

  • Understands clients’ needs and concerns
  • Responds promptly and effectively to client needs
  • Eager to be of help to users

5. Creative

  • Develops innovative approaches to problem solving
  • Invents new ways of doing things
  • Willing to try out bold ideas

6. Collaborative

  • Acknowledges others’ contributions
  • Works effectively with individuals of different backgrounds and from different groups
  • Willing to seek help as needed
  • Shares personal knowledge
  • Builds partnerships and networks

7. Curious

  • Stays current in the field
  • Open to new ideas
  • Asks others to share their knowledge and experience

8. Dynamic

  • Gets results
  • Balances analysis with action
  • Sets high standards

9. Influential

  • Gains support and commitment from others even without formal authority
  • Resolves differences by determining needs and forging solutions that benefit all parties
  • Facilitates teamwork across organizational boundaries

10. Personable

  • Gets along well with many different types of people
  • Nurtures new relationships
  • Well-liked as a manager, employee, and colleague

See also:

  1. Recording
  2. Slides

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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