Sunday, April 26, 2015

Knowledge Management certification -- a review

So "knowledge management" is coming back into vogue. I have to wonder how much of its renewed popularity is due to certain tipping points in information volume, etc.

What is a knowledge manager? Let's ask a simpler question: "What kind of credentials does a knowledge manager need to have?" That question gets us into certification programs.

The Knowledge Management Institute of Canada offers... something ( Its mandate involves training, research, and consultancy with a specific focus on Canadian industry. The president has some letters after his name including OCT and CKM. I don't know what "OCT" is. It offers some generic programs and tow different "Specialist Programs": sector focused, and role focused. Certifications seem to include "Certified Knowledge Practitioner" and "Certified Knowledge Manager Program". It also promises some two certifications including KM Architect, KM Analyst, and Chief Knowledge Officer.

NOTE -- "OCT" might stand for "Ontario College of Teachers".

Certified Knowledge Professional involves taking a KMIC course. There is no indication of the actual prerequisites or body of knowledge. There is, however, a course description for the Certified Knowledge Manager certification. Apparently, it's a course. The assessment is done based on contribution to the knowledge exchange and a final exam. The course breaks down into several components:

  • Foundations -- articulating value proposition, change management, etc.
  • Applying theory to practice -- "tactical aspects of KM" (?!), quick wins, measurement.

Hmmm... overall the program seems a bit dodgy. The whole program is a bit black box and there doesn't seem to be any vetting of the underlying body of knowledge or assessment strategy. Furthermore, there doesn't seem to be any need for continuing education to maintain certification.

Perhaps KMIC is only a subsidiary associate of a parent organization. There is, for example, a Knowledge Management Institute ( It offers the CKM and CKP certifications along with non-certification training on taxonomy, knowledge capture, information architecture, innovation, leadership, etc.

Okay, let's dig into the CKM designation. So you have to take a 5-day class and then take a course online. You need 70% to pass. There is a student handbook of sorts ( It alludes to a KMBOK and a Knowledge Maturity Model (KMM). So that's promising.

It is aligning with AIIM's call for KM standardization (

This whole KMBOK thing is compelling yet surprisingly elusive. What is this thing? Is there a TCO somewhere? How is it vetted? The PMI and IBBA could provide a few lessons here.

ASM, a Maryland-based training provider, offers a KM course that perhaps mirrors some of the CKM material but isn't actually related to it (

Now we come to something called the KMA or the Knowledge Management Association. It provides links to a number of degree and certificate programs (

The first certificate program it mentions is Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS), a "set of processes/practices that leverage knowledge as a key asset of the support organization" ( It comes from HDI, an organization that focuses on the technical service and support industry. It's interesting in that is has functional advisory boards, member advisory boards, and a strategic advisory board. It supports conferences, courses, research, and a buyer's guide. It publishes standards for the various certifications... but you have to buy them.

Apparently I have already registered with these guys but I still can't get the standard. A document apparently from the KCS Academy lays out the objectives of the program and what the test aims to assess ( That document points us to recommended reading, including the KCS v5.3 Knowledge-Centered Support Practices Guide from the Consortium for Service Innovation ( This document is quite good and basically explains best practices for maintaining a support database. Apparenlty, the KCS is based on four concepts:

  • Create content as a by-product of solving issues
  • Evolve content based on demand and usage
  • Develop a knowledge base of our collective experience to date
  • Reward learning, collaboration, sharing, and improving

The other document of relevance is apparently "Measurement Matters". I'll have to take a look.

It gives us a decent definition of "knowledge" by noting: "The definition of knowledge is an ongoing debate in academic and philosophy circles that goes back as far as Plato. We find that for our purposes 'information upon which I can act' is a helpful definition."

Later, it articulates: "Knowledge is not perfect, pristine, static or approved by experts. It is messy, constantly changing and validated through use."

I like this thing. I'll have to come back to it as it provides a great methodology for eliciting tacit knowledge and actively managing it. This document -- along with the ARMY guide -- provide a pretty good basis for KM.

Back to some of the other certifications mentioned by KMA.

Next on the list we find a Certificate in Knowledge and Innovation Management offered by The site looks very... defunct. The last copyright update was 2008 and the last program update was 2009. The certificate is apparently all about the "K-STREAM" methodology developed by Joseph M. Firestone and Mark W. McElroy. Let's check in with Dr. Firestone. Hmmm... his blog went dark in 2010; LinkedIn notes that he has perhaps been spending more time with with other initiatives Re-Invent Democracy Inc. and Executive Information Systems Inc. He is active on Twitter... or maybe it's just a bot that has hijacked his account.

I don't get it. There's a 2009 syllabus that doesn't really help much (

Back to KMA. We have the KMI programs again, the KMIC programs, and something from KMPro. Is it a different CKM program? Let's find out.

KMPro's site is a bit dated but at least the copyright statement is only marginally out of date. The methodology has, apparently, been deployed extensively with the US armed forces due to a DoD contract. The methodology has been laid out ( but it still seems... quaint. In the fine print we see that KMPro acts as a professional association with an open standard board but that all training material is delivered by Hudson Associates Consulting Inc. The justification for this structure seems well referenced but all of the references just point to Wikipedia. Nuts.

Hudson Associates Consulting Inc. seems to be pretty hard to find. There's no obvious web site. There is, however, a nice collection of litigation. There seems to have been some complaints over trademark infringement and cyber squatting. Is "knowledge management" a trademark? I don't see anything in the USPTO database... but there are a bunch of "bodies of knowledge." It seems that Triple-I corporation sued Hudson Associates due to interference with a key client (US Army) and some disagreement about who could use terms like "Certified Knowledge Manager", etc.

Wow. That was really disappointing. Maybe there's better KM grounding in the university programs listed by the KMA. Regardless, it's really hard to think of knowledge management as a real discipline if there isn't a coalescing body of knowledge or practice.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your wonderful perspectives on the variety of courses offered in KM. What I like is your objectivity and how you question the validity of the #KM programs offered. I will contribute more because I think this conversation is worthwhile continuing.

25/8/15 13:05  

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