Maps of any kind are shaped by their purposes - to aid navigation, exploitation, reuse, demarcation, identity power claims and facilitate sensemaking, to name but a few. An inventory of purposes (if you manage to compile one) should help to clarify a typology of forms, and they should help identify useful processes and tools (to modify slightly the sequence of your question elements). Knowledge mapping can tend to get hung up on either on the form we are familiar with first, or on the process we use to develop a map,and think too little about the originating need or purpose.


Maps of knowledge (whether intra-organisation,community-based or societal) tend to serve the following functions:
  • Locate knowledge resources and "owners"
  • Show relationships between any combination of knowledge resources, people, locations, activities/processes
  • Track flows of information and knowledge
  • Encourage reuse
  • Identify gaps (can exploit map forms produced for other purposes)
  • Track development of knowledge, trends in knowledge landscapes
  • Aid navigation of knowledge resources (eg taxonomies and site structures)
  • Find rationalisation/"tidying up"/efficiency opportunities
  • Assess value of resources (this could just as well be an inventory, but a map could help illustrate the multiplication potential from combining resources)
  • Improve the exploitation of knowledge resources
  • encourage peer review and renewal of knowledge resources


  1. Reflect on the organisation's mission
  2. Identify the key business processes
  3. Identify what the knowledge is required for these processes
  4. Identify who uses the knowledge in the process to create the value
  5. Describe how the knowledge obtained
  6. Identify the source and form of the knowledge
  7. Assess validity and reliability
  8. Identify any management controls applied
  9. Map in a table or network diagram


  • Here is a short video clip, explaining the use of knowledge maps as part of a knowledge audit activity.
  • Banxia provide this useful guide to concept mapping written for their Banxia Decision Explorer tool, but the guidelines can be applied broadly.
  • For basic visual maps, MS Visio and LucidChart are options.
  • When selecting tools to record knowledge maps, consider:
    • Individual, facilitated or collaborative co- creation
    • What formats the final output will be required in (Visual, Data based, Semantic and machine readable)