The skills or qualities important in a Chief Knowledge Officer
Like the discipline of knowledge management (KM), the role of Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) is often a misunderstand role within the organization. Even those appointed to the position of CKO end up first trying to define what a CKO does (Ear and Scott, 1999). This is also true in the military. Many have begun to don the title of CKO, but are unable to tell you what a CKO does. Most relate responsibilities that belong to the CIO – the person we normally refer to as the communications officer within the Marine Corps – whose job it is to manage the technology and communications infrastructure for the organization. In fact, many of the military personnel calling themselves CKOs were communications officers at one point in time.
There are, however, several personnel within the Marine Corps who do understand what a CKO is and what he does, and they are actively trying to educate leaders within the Marine Corps. A part of this effort requires the identification of those skills and qualities a CKO should have in order to be successful with knowledge management. The list is fairly long but, according to Ear and Scott (1999), it includes:
• The need to be technologists as they must “understand which technologies can contribute to capturing, storing, exploring, and, in particular, sharing knowledge.”
• The need to be social architects as they must be capable of designing “social environments that stimulate and facilitate both arranged and chance conversations or the development of events and processes that encourage more deliberate knowledge creation and exchange.”
• The need to be environmentalists as they must be capable of “redesigning performance measurement and executive appraisal systems to break down incentives centered on the individual, visibly encourage collective knowledge development and sharing…”
• They must have the “strategic, integrationist, and enterprise-wide qualities of the CEO.”
• The must have “the catalyzing, selling, and implementing qualities expected of the change agent.”
• They must have “the softer, organizational, and process-oriented perspective of the human resources specialist.”
• They must have “the technological, systems, and informational perspective of the CIO.”
There are many more skills and qualities that a CKO will need to be successful. TFPL, a specialist professional services company focusing on knowledge, information, library, records and web & content management, has created a knowledge management skills map (KMmap2000) that will prove useful to those aspiring knowledge managers looking to develop the right stuff.
Ear, M. J., & Scott, I. A. (1999). What is a chief knowledge officer? Sloan Management Review, 40(2), 29-38.