7 Responses

  1. avatar
    Mike McHugh at |

    I applaud the application of Systems Thinking to the question of the nature of a Knowledge Management System: it’s so important to debunk the technology-oriented POV, and so important to recognize the role of people. After all, that’s where 75% of the knowledge resides.

    Some comments:
    1) You have a ‘control loop’ on the right hand side of the model, and an element labelled “Action” within that loop. That in itself is fine, but you lack “Action” in the body of the system – instead you have “Functions” (which I find a little too close to the language of IT applications). Your narrative includes “Actors” but these are not include in the model… and I’d say that their role is not constrained within the “Action” element but is essential to the whole model.

    2) The model appears to assume that the scope of the knowledge is static… as the “Source” is outside the body of the system. I see the overall design of the model implying that the “Source” knowledge is moved to the “Target” via some machinations. But I would argue that a KMS creates new knowledge through the “Actions” of the “Actors” and, so, the notion of the “Source” is weak. I’d rather see some purpose to the system being represented on the left, like business imperatives. They might relate to the element you have labelled as “Target”. If that was the logic, then “Outcomes” might need to be reconsidered.

    3) The “Continuously Improve” element of the model is actually a function of the system and, from a Systems Thinking POV, the feedback from the element “Outcomes” only needs to connect with the body of the model i.e. “Continuously Improve” is redundant. But, as the model stands, I think the control loop might have this sequence: “Outcomes”, “Targets”, “Feedback”.

  2. avatar
    Dave Williams at |

    Thanks for your comments Mike
    I am writing an article at the moment on knowledge flows that will address some of the issues. I will provide some clarification in response to your comments

    1. My thoughts were that actors operate within the model. I’ll have a think about presenting them without compartmentalizing the human element. The main actors are at the source and the target. I am comfortable with the systems having ‘functions’. Actions are deliberately separate because we use a KMS to enable us to take actions to deliver customer-facing good or services.

    2. Knowledge of the Source is not meant to be static or weak. That is why it is deliberately outside the ‘box’. Disagree that the purpose of a KMS is only to create knowledge. Business imperatives come from Strategy and the demand for knowledge from the target to undertake action. the model probably needs reference to an external organizational driver

    3. disagree – just because there is feedback, does not mean that the system improves. there needs to be an element that is reflective, analytical and creative. ,

  3. avatar
    Collin at |

    Hi Dave

    I would like to ask a question. What would you say are Categories of Knowledge management systems and their types?


  4. avatar
    Dave Williams at |

    I have a list that I have been tinkering with a would like some feedback on:

    Types of KM Technology Systems
    • Knowledge mapping/auditing
    • Knowledge discovery/creation/innovation
    • Knowledge capture/conversion (into Structural capital/information)
    • Learning Management Systems
    • Continuous Improvement Systems
    • Decision Support Systems
    • Connecting people systems
    • Knowledge brokering systems
    • Expertise locators systems
    • Aggregating, combining and synthesizing systems
    • Sharing or controlling access to knowledge systems

  5. avatar
    Collin at |

    Thank you very much Dave

  6. avatar
    Wycliffe at |

    Hello Dave,

    Thanks for article here. Would you know institutions offering international short courses (2-3 week) on knowledge management ?

    1. avatar
      Bruce Boyes at |

      Hi Wycliffe,

      A great place to look for information on KM courses is the KM Education Hub.

      Best regards,



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