ABCs of KM

Knowledge principles for government

The National Archives of the United Kingdom has produced a set of Knowledge Principles for Government, as a companion to Information Principles that were previously published.

The principles are based on a definitions of information and knowledge that are quite basic compared to current models, but these clear and concise understandings are likely to be helpful in engaging and motivating  government agencies to take action.

The Knowledge Principles for Government are:

  1. Knowledge is a valued asset. Knowledge is an asset which is fundamental to the efficient and effective delivery of public services.
  1. Knowledge needs the right environment in order to thrive. In order for knowledge to thrive it requires appropriate behaviours and cultures, fostered and adopted by leaders and individuals alike.
  1. Knowledge is captured where necessary and possible. Capturing of knowledge turns that which is held tacitly in the heads of members of staff into explicit, recorded knowledge.
  1. Knowledge is freely sought and shared. Knowledge is an asset that develops from the intellectual activity of individuals – which can be brought together to form Organisational Knowledge.
  1. Knowledge increases in value through re-use. The value of knowledge can be multiplied by re-use.
  1. Knowledge underpins individual learning. Knowledge is the cornerstone of learning, both classroom and workplace based.
  1. Knowledge underpins organisational learning. Organisational learning in this context is the ability of the organisation to benefit from the collective knowledge of its individuals.

The principles build into a hierarchy with the core principle at the bottom, as shown in the diagram above. Detailed information about the principles can be found in the Knowledge Principles for Government document.

Also published on Medium.

Bruce Boyes

Bruce Boyes ( is editor, lead writer, and a director of the award-winning RealKM Magazine ( and currently also teaches in the University of NSW (UNSW) Foundation Studies program in China. He has expertise and experience in a wide range of areas including knowledge management (KM), environmental management, program and project management, writing and editing, stakeholder engagement, communications, and research. Bruce holds a Master of Environmental Management with Distinction and a Certificate of Technology (Electronics). With a demonstrated ability to identify and implement innovative solutions to social and ecological complexity, Bruce's many career highlights include establishing RealKM Magazine as an award-winning resource for knowledge managers, using agile and knowledge management approaches to oversee the implementation of an award-winning $77.4 million river recovery program in western Sydney on time and under budget, leading a knowledge strategy process for Australia's 56 natural resource management (NRM) regional organisations, pioneering collaborative learning and governance approaches to support communities to sustainably manage landscapes and catchments, and initiating and teaching two new knowledge management subjects at Shanxi University in China.

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  1. Hmmm.
    OK as far as it goes, and I do like the connection to organisational and individual learning. However, the graphic gives the impression that all knowledge sharing, learning and re-use is built solely on captured knowledge (aka information), and that there is no recognised role for people talking with each other! It kind of implies that it all works fine if we can keep turning the handle on the converting-tacit-knowledge-sausage-machine…

    Having worked with ten different UK government departments over the past 10 years, I can attest to the fact that dialogue, exploration, conversation and networks are pretty fundamental to the way things get done. It’s just that you don’t see that in evidence-bases and on FOI requests. Or indeed, in national archives! Good to see a start on this but it would be even better to see the principles extended to recognise the entire knowledge iceberg…

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