Some of you, who know me, will know that I started out my career in accounting; I have an undergraduate degree in accounting and was going to be a Chartered Accountant.
This is also how I got my start in KM, although it wasn’t called KM then, it was just how you worked—checklists and reusing last year’s files, talking to the staff who had worked on the audit/tax last year. If you had worked on the engagement the year before you were expected to be quicker in the subsequent year(s) because you were familiar with the client and the file.
15+ years into my knowledge management career, I still run into organizations that think that in order to help them better manage their knowledge that I have to be a specialist in whatever their content is, e.g. if it’s a law firm, I have to be a lawyer, if it’s a manufacturer I have to be an engineer, if it’s a hospital I have to be a doctor or a nurse or some other medical professional.
This isn’t always true, there are lots of organizations that understand that KM is a series of processes and activities, largely independent of the content. Organizations that understand having a depth of experience in how to get people to participate in knowledge sharing activities is more important than knowing the knowledge that they are actually supposed to be sharing.
Accounting is accounting is accounting. Yes, there might be some differences from industry to industry or sector, but in the end you are still trying to keep track of the financial resources of the organization, using generally accepted accounting principles.
Knowledge Management is no different. You are just trying to help facilitate the knowledge lifecycle from creation to sharing and management to disposal using a set of generally accepted knowledge management processes.
In both cases it’s important to understand the processes and principles, not the content.