Entovation International
The Knowledge Profession Comes of Age

Debra M. Amidon

Just as we are seeing different professions converging on the 'Emerging Community of Knowledge Practice' (see my article in Knowledge Inc 3/97), we are seeing the emergence of specialist knowledge professionals. In our report, Creating the Knowledge-based Business, we listed (pages 334-337) the variety of new titles and job responsibilities appearing in a variety of functions - knowledge engineer, knowledge editor, knowledge analyst, knowledge navigator, knowledge gatekeeper, knowledge brokers, knowledge handyman, knowledge asset manager, knowledge steward or shepherd etc. And these do not include the facilitation and coaching roles nor the functional job titles which are assuming the leadership role in many companies.

In recognition of this, we are now starting to see the emergence of recruitment organizations specifically geared to these new posts. Unlike other recruitment web sites that electronically matches jobs to job seekers, the knowledge about knowledge specialists is itself highly specialized and relies much on tacit knowledge. Knowledge Jobs is therefore a highly confidential, executive level recruiting competence for organizations interested in formalizing knowledge strategy and operations capabilities.

Classification Schema:
1. Knowledge & Innovation Professionals:
Individuals have strong background in shaping and formulating knowledge-based programs. Many have developed best practices for global Fortune 1000 Companies. Most are highly skilled in a variety of disciplines including business process improvement, innovation, performance measurement & modeling, case history, facilitation, strategic integration and developing best practices. Chief Knowledge Officers are part of this group as are consultants.
2. Knowledge Management Professionals:
Knowledge Management Professionals have expertise in implementation. They ensure a company gains from management of knowledge. They are involved in all phases of Innovation (Knowledge creation, knowledge acquisition, knowledge sharing, knowledge conversion, knowledge commercialization. Career background may be in any functions, e.g. Finance, Human Resources, Quality, IT, R&D, Manufacturing, Sales, Service).
3. Knowledge Catalogers, Researchers & Media Specialists:
These are contributors whose skills are web site, internet and intranet developers, librarians, catalogue specialists, content developers, communicators, software designers and developers, middle managers and others who create the knowledge networks and links.
4. Knowledge & Competitive Intelligence Professionals:
Emphasis focuses on competitive intelligence. Heavy research, the ability to create and develop solid positions, on line research savvy mixed with the ability to cogently and concisely present ideas in a clear and concise format are well developed skills. Writing and presentation skills are strong.
5. Knowledge & Strategic Integration Professionals:
Composed of top strategists, thinkers, planners, marketers, and individuals with senior management experience. These folks make planning and strategy the engine for business improvement and growth.
6. Knowledge Academicians, Theorists & Visionaries:
This group focuses primarily on discussion within an academic setting and developing and testing models and applications. Visionaries are thought leaders who are frequently well in front of the practice. These individuals make outstanding speakers and can stimulate your organizations thinking.
7. Knowledge Facilitators, Trainers & Corporate Educators:
These individuals focus on learning and education in a corporate setting. Many have created outstanding models and programs for linking external and internal audiences, designing and developing curriculums, implementing distance learning and creating custom-tailored courses for executives and senior managers.
8. Knowledge & Expert Systems Professionals:
One facet of knowledge and knowledge management is expert systems and how to institutionalize corporate knowledge. Individuals in this area include Systems specialists, Technologists, Chief Information Officers, Technology Transfer Specialists, Expert Systems Engineers, Project managers and others who primarily focus on information technology.

In our research report - Creating the Knowledge-Based Business, we dedicate an entire chapter to the 'Roles and Skills for the Knowledge Age.' Our findings indicate that:

As organizations become more knowledge-based, new knowledge roles are emerging and the roles of existing knowledge workers are changing.
Some of the new roles encountered were knowledge editors, knowledge navigators, analysts and brokers. All play a part in linking some knowledge process to day-to-day activities.
All roles require more knowledge creation (creativity) and knowledge-sharing. This shift requires more hybrid knowledge and skills, including organization/business knowledge, and general management skills, such as networking, communication and relationship building.
No correlation was found between competency planning and knowledge management initiatives. There seems to be a consensus that competence is as much about behaviors as it is about knowledge and skills.
There is a growing focus on learning. In turn, this reflects a shift from training to student-centered learning linked to on-the-job activities. Several ways are used to create such a learning environment, including open learning centers, links with universities and the use of 'safe-to-fail' simulation tools and board games.
There is a strong correlation between knowledge-based organizations and learning organizations, with strong interest shown in Peter Senge's five disciplines. However, explicit linkage between knowledge activities and learning requires development in many organizations, such as through 'lessons' learned centres.

Successful knowledge-based companies depend upon how successful individual knowledge workers create and apply new ideas productively and efficiently (i.e., how they innovate). This requires new roles, new skills and new ways of developing organization capabilities that continuously improve, such as through organizational learning.

Many of us are contacted for references of people who might be candidates for certain positions. Usually, we give our insight and experience freely and for free.


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