Here are some frequently (and not so frequently) used terms in the field of KM. Feel free to add to the list.
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


After Action Review
An activity undertaken to reflect on an activity and learn from the experience to improve the next time a similar activity is done. AAR's were originally developed by the US Army. More information on how the Army conducts AAR's can be found in the document "A leader's guide to after-action reviews."
Attractors; Barriers; Identities; Dissent/Disrupt; Environment.
A mnemonic used to look for possible influencing factors in an environment where you expect change. Jerry Ash on his AOK web site attributes the concept to Dave Snowden and says:
The idea of ABIDE is:
  • To create a way for managers to talk about unordered systems in such a way as to prevent their focusing on output conditions, or to impute linear causality.
  • To allow managers to use ordered systems approaches in an unordered space, it's what they have been trained to do so you won't stop it, but you can direct it at the ordered aspects of an un-ordered space and ABIDE is intended to provide that. This way you can keep it very simple: Is it ordered or unordered? If ordered, engineer an outcome based solution; if unordered, what are the ABIDE elements, which can we change, which should we change, how do we monitor for and respond to emergence?
For more on ABIDE see Tools for Managing in a Complex Context (page 6) in the HBR article by Snowden and Boone
Artificial Intelligence


Business Analyst
Japanese term used in a KM context by Ikujiro Nonaka in the definition of this SECI model. According to Nonaka (1998), " can be thought of as a shared space for emerging relationships. This space can be physical, virtual, mental or any combination of them. What differentiates ba from ordinary human interaction is the concept of knowledge creation. Ba provides a platform for advancing individual and / or collective knowledge."
Balanced scorecard
A 1990s performance management framework for organisations that measures performance against a range of organisaitonal objectives rather than just financial. The Balanced scorecard was described by Kaplan and Norton in their HBR article "Using the balanced scorecard as a strategic management system."
The B in ABIDE
Before Action Review
A learning activity before a planned activity to check for prior knowledge relevant to that activity and potential knowledge needs during it.

Propositional attitude of truth
Better Practice

business intelligence
A contraction of the term Weblog. An online journal /social computing tool that allows people to easily publish content electronically and for others to comment. Can be syndicated through an RSS feed.
boundary spanner

business process management
business process re-engineering
business intelligence

business process mapping

business process re-engineering


Chief Information Officer
Chief Knowledge Officer
Chief Learning Officer
Chief Technology Officer
cognitive task analysis

community of interest
Working with others to create something better than could have been done by yourself.
collaboration platform
A platform that facilitates collaboration with others. An example is a wiki that allows many people to work together on task to produce a defined object or desired result such as the collaborative authoring of a list of KM terms.
Integral to the Internet. It is the ability to easily connect to any public site anywhere in the world that gives the Internet its true power. Thus, the efficiency with which a message is moved from one place to another affects the effectiveness of the network. Communication involves three processes - transmission, switching, and signal. This concept can be extended to knowledge. How is knowledge communicated? Person to person (socialization), experience to person (internalization), others ...
Groups of people that work together for the betterment of the whole. The tasks that a community focus on are widely varied.
The biggest distincition of a community over a project team (as an example) is that instead of working toward a focused task with specific milestones and deliverables communities typically work with groups of individuals that are not necessarily co-located or working on a common project with set deadlines and deliverables.
Some organizations are trying to make communities responsible for delivery of products and services to clients so this a hybrid of a community and a project team. Some organizations state that communities are made up of all volunteers and are not paid for their time or their contributions.
This again varies widely from one organization to another as organizations struggle to find the right model for communities to be successful. Some feel that their communities will not work when they are managed or directed to perform. Some organizations feel that their communities will only produce value if they are tasked and explicitly funded.


competitor intelligence


Community of Interest

Community of Practice

community or practice

The environment of an organization. Usually defined in terms of shared values and common behaviors that are expected by all members of the organization. There will always be outliers in any organization, the culture of the organization describes the typical member of that organization and the type of people that are recruited and tend to perform well and remain in a particular organization.
A culture is also expressed through its customs and artifacts. Does it celebrate success or punish failure. Is risk encouraged or shunned. How do people feel to be in a particular culture? Are they respected as individuals or are they supposed to just be quiet and do what they are told?
customer capital

Cynefin Framework
The Cynefin (pronounced kanivin) framework was developed by Dave Snowden and his colleagues at IBM. The framework helps leaders understand the complexity of a problem and then identify appropriate actions. The five domains within the framework are: Simple, Complicated, Complex, Chaotic and Disordered. The framework is described in the HBRArticleA leader's framework for decision making, Snowden and Boone.



values of an attribute of an object, subject or event (McDonald)
Recorded, ordered symbols (i.e. letters and numbers) that carry information. Data is the basic building block of information and knowledge. There are many types of data that can be categorized by: form (digital, analog), type of use (thematic, spatial, temporal); processor (numeric, text), and media (documents, images, video, audio).
data mining

data warehouse


database management
Data entry, storage, search, retrieval, and file organization. In many organizations, data management has traditionally been limited to domain-specific databases. Interoperability standards will be needed to enable cross-domain data sharing.

decision support systems


To electronically record data on a reproducible media. Digitization can be divided into two categories - ongoing activities and legacy collections. The former generally uses current technology whereas the latter typically involves costly rescuing of outmoded data sources.
Data - Information - Knowledge - Wisdom
double loop learning
A term described by Peter Senge for evaluating and improving the application of feedback and improvement of an activity.



Enterprise 2.0
The use of participative social media tools such as blogs, wikis, RSS, to enhance collaboration and knowledge sharing within the enterprise.
The term was coined by Andy McAfee and described in his 2006 MIT Sloan Management review article Enterprise 2.0: the dawn of Emergent Collaboration. In defining the term McAfee says "I use the term Enterprise 2.0 to focus only on those platforms that companies can buy or build in order to make visible the practices and outputs of their knowledge workers." In 2009 McAfee published the Book Enterprise 2.0, which is considered by many a must read book for anyone interested in KM and the links to social media.
environmental scanning

In philosophy epistemology means the study of knowledge, the nature of knowledge, and the relationship of knowledge to the "real" world. In knowledge management also known as epistemoffagain.
executive information system
A system that provides high-level information, such as financial condition, market share, and organizational performance in graphic form, with drill-down capability for detail. (see management information system, decision support system)
expert systems

expertise locator

explicit knowledge
Knowledge that has been formally expressed. It can be documented using various techniques and in various formats so that others can attempt to internalize that which has been expressed by another to grow their own knowledge.



Frequently Asked Questions - one mechanism to try and leverage what people know and free them up to work on other things. The concept behind this is that experts will answer questions that they get frequently and then share them with people on a broad scale through some mechanism - either a blog or a wiki or a web site or event a question database. This then frees the experts up to work on the next big thing with their now free time. This has been expanded today so that anyone can contribute to a wiki to to get questions documented and answered by anyone that might have the answer to move people beyond the reaching out to experts only mode that so many of us have grown up with.





human capital


implicit knowledge
Knowledge that has not been formally expressed (explicit knowledge) but may be implied from what is known. This allows some people to make leaps of faith based on another's knowledge. It may or may not produce the desired result but is better than a random and uneducated guess.
the representation of an action or a cognitive concept (Williams, based on Popper)
Data that has been interpreted or translated to reveal the underlying meaning. For example, weather data can be processed to yield fire-danger rating or letters can be interpreted as words, statements, and ideas. Ultimately, information is generally specific to a particular domain (i.e. activity, process, function)Information may be presented in many formats (reports, images, tables, charts) and media (documents, sound recordings, photographs, video).
In its simplest terms, information is the representation of an object, action or a cognitive concept.
information architecture

information management
Acquire data, manage databases, interpret data, and produce output. Many programs have developed state-of-the-art domain-specific information and decision-support systems. However, use of this technology to manage an organization has not progressed beyond administrative efficiency for many.
information processes
Functions and systems that add value to information by increasing the amount of underlying meaning. Digitization, database management, information systems, and knowledge infrastructure are a sequence of processes that transform information from raw data into knowledge, much like machines along a production line. Characteristics of the four information processes illustrate the differences among them.
information systems
A system designed and used to manage the structural capital of an organization

intangible assets

intellectual capital
The knowledge, experience and working relationships held by personnel; as well as those tangible organisational assets (structural capital) such as policies, procedures, templates, training materials, systems (not IT) business intelligence and IP owned by an organisation that enables it to operate in the market.
The I in SECI.




knowledge centered support

knowledge management
Justified true belief
Knowledge is a fluid mix of framed experience, values, contextual information, and expert insights that provides a framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information.
Davenport, T. H., & Prusak, L. (1998). Working knowledge: How organizations manage what they know. Harvard Business Press.
knowledge activist

knowledge architecture

knowledge audit

knowledge base
A database or collection of knowledge repositories containing tacit knowledge in the form of formally coded facts and (if, then; else) decision rules. (see data base, information base)
knowledge broker

knowledge capture

knowledge champion

knowledge centered support (KCS)

knowledge half-life
How long knowledge is good. Many believe that knowledge that before was good for years is not lasting as long as it used to. This indicates that more work is needed to make sure that knowledge itself is generated at the appropriate rate to keep up with advances in technology and its socialisation.
knowledge harvesting

knowledge infrastructure
Linking multiple information systems together to synthesize knowledge. To date, knowledge synthesis within many organizations has been primarily subjective. Knowledge initiatives need to provide a structure and process to facilitate and support the synthesis of new knowledge for an organisation.
knowledge management (KM)
Debate still rages on a agreed definition for KM. A list of published definitions is available at Definitions of KM.
knowledge management strategy

knowledge management system
a system that enables organizations to generate increased value from their intellectual capital
knowledge manager

knowledge map

knowledge process

knowledge sharing

knowledge stickiness

knowledge strategy
The things an organization needs to do to accomplish their business objectives through the management of their knowledge.
knowledge transfer

knowledge velocity
How quickly knowledge can be developed or acquired and then disseminated so that it can make its way across an organization. Knowledge needs to be developed or acquired and then get from the person that has it to the person that needs it.
knowledge worker


Doing things differently the next time round based on prior experience and reflection on that experience.
learning organisation

lessons learned
A collection of records of learning, often produced as a result of After Action Reviews (AAR) or Retrospects.

library science


market intelligence

maturity model


A record of something that happened in the past, and which can be recalled. Organisational memory can be aided by human memories, but is also, crucially, supported by information and records management.
Information that describes the content, quality, condition, origin, and other characteristics of data or other pieces of information. Metadata for spatial data may describe and document its subject matter; how, when, where, and by whom the data was collected; availability and distribution information; its projection, scale, resolution, and accuracy; and its reliability with regard to some standard. Metadata consists of properties and documentation. Properties are derived from the data source (for example, the coordinate system and projection of the data), while documentation is entered by a person (for example, keywords used to describe the data).
Most Significant Change (MSC)
An impact evaluation technique that involves collecting stories about significant changes brought about by a programme or initiative, and then having stakeholders evaluate them for significance.







Organisational Network Analysis
In philosophy the word ontology means the study of existence. In computer science it means a set of defined concepts where the relationships between the concepts are also defined. An ontology works for computers like a taxonomy works for human beings.
organisational learning

open space technology


peer assist
A facilitated knowledge sharing activity where colleagues with some expertise in your work area are invited to help you or your team address a problem or issue by giving new insights or perspectives.
peer review

Personal knowledge management - a set of processes and techniques used to help you manage efficiently and effectively your own personal knowledge to maximum value for yourself and for others.
Involves creating a digital “document”using HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and storing it on a web site. This is usually accomplished with an HTML editor. The document may contain text, images, sound, or audio or any combination of media. It may also contain embedded hyperlinks, hot spots, and feedback forms. This continues to evolve today - think about blogs, wikis, and even micro-blogs such as Twitter.



records management

research and development (R&D)


rewards and recognition

Really Simple Syndication (RSS)
An XML format used to syndicate and aggregate content.


search engine

A model for knowledge creation and application described by Nonaka and Takeuchi. The model has four stages
Socialization: "Sharing and creating tacit knowledge through direct experience"
Nonaka, Ikujiro (1991). "The knowledge creating company". Harvard Business Review 69 (6 Nov-Dec): 96–104.
The form in which data is transmitted. It may be analog (fluctuating current) or digital (binary). Telephone lines and cable networks that connect to individual homes use analog signals. Modems are needed to convert digital data to an analog signal for transmission via current networks and then reconverted to a digital format upon receipt. Applying this to knowledge, what signals do you use to transmit knowledge in your organization? Do you need something to help translate your organizational knowledge so it can be used by others? Do you need something to help translate external knowledge so it can be applied within your organization?
Subject Matter Expert
Social Network Analysis
social computing
a.k.a. Web 2.0


stakeholder capital

story listening

story telling

structural capital

The routing of signals through a network towards their destinations. It may be synchronous (simultaneous transmission and receipt of a message, i.e. telephone) or asynchronous (transmission and receipt of a message is not simultaneous, i.e. e-mail). The latter, may involve packet switching, which makes the Internet so cost-effective because it does not require a dedicated open line. It waits for openings in the communications stream and sends small parts of large messages via different routes through a network, in the many unused spaces between messages. Applying this to knowledge, what mechanisms have you put in place to facilitate synchronous and asynchronous knowledge transfer/sharing?


tacit knowledge
The knowledge inside someone's head or body (eg motor skills). Often contrasted with Explicit Knowledge (see entry). David Snowden's ASHEN Framework (see entry) is based on the argument that the division between tacit and explicit knowledge is too simplistic and that there are several different types of knowledge.

An arrangement of categories which can function as a classification scheme, a navigation structure, and/or a source of controlled subject terms to support searching.


Sending an electronic signal from one point to another. It involves the national backbone, trunk lines that connect to the backbone, and distribution networks that connect to individual sites. A key element of transmission is bandwidth - the amount of data that can be carried at one time. Extend this concept to knowledge. What mechanisms do you use to transmit knowledge? What barriers exist that reduce or prevent the transmission of knowledge from one person to another?



Value Network Analysis (VNA)
A way of mapping and representing the value exchanges between stakeholders in a social system. See also SNA and ONA.


A web page which is editable by any visitor who is given the rights to edit.
world cafe

world wide web
A powerful global system of protocols and standards that enable the exchange of multimedia content. The Web permits anyone to inexpensively publish digital text, sound, and images and distribute it to a global audience. Conversely, it allows anyone to find, access, retrieve, and display or play anything that has been published on the Web. Key elements of the Web are publishing, hyper links, browsing, and tools. Applying this to knowledge, are you leveraging all of the tools accessible via the web to build and grow your knowledge? What else could you do to expand the web to make it easier for others to access your knowledge? Think about the explosion of social networks. Are those part of your knowledge strategy? If not, why not? Should they be?
the ability to see and act on complex patterns before others


eXtensible Markup Language


yellow pages