Book Reviews

Book Reviews

Book Review: Knowledge Management in Healthcare

Knowledge Management in Healthcare. Zipperer, Lorri, editor. Surrey, England, UK: Gower/Ashgate 2014.

• Available from the publisher at:
• Also at Amazon in print ($113 new; some used available) and Kindle ($95) formats:

This is a 2014 text, but worthy of review for our Division because it is a UK imprint and thus less advertised in the US, because a number of SLA members have contributed to it, and perhaps most importantly, because the editor has done something rare with this book – paired information professionals with healthcare professionals to write each of the nine chapters.

Editor Lorri Zipperer, Principal of Zipperer Project Management (ZPM specializes in patient safety information, knowledge sharing and project management guidance) was active in SLA for years, particularly in the Biomedical and Life Sciences and Library Management Divisions. She has written previously on knowledge management topics (see, and, in addition to editing this text, co-authored seven of the chapters. SLA members Jan Chindlund and Jan Sykes also co-authored chapters, and SLA member Michael Moore designed systems thinking loop drawings for the text.

The authors do not shy away from the fact that the meaning of knowledge is complex and can vary. And, they all recognize that knowledge can be both explicit and tacit, asserting that making the latter the former enhances communication and thus health care delivery.

The chapters are organized in three parts:

  • Nature of Knowledge Sharing Environments, which, while foundational, does have a healthcare slant
  • Knowledge Workers: Insights from the Frontline, and
  • Knowledge Sharing Metrics, Practicalities and Future Directions.

Each part begins with synopses of the chapters within. The layout enhances the readability of this fairly technical textbook: “Infoboxes” pull out important ideas; graphics illustrate conceptual models; and, tables highlight key concepts.

Zipperer interviewed 20 healthcare practitioners who remained anonymous, but whose insights she states helped drive the organization of the text. She and her authors also draw upon: the knowledge pyramid based on Russell Ackoff’s work (data – information – knowledge – wisdom); Peter Senge’s, Chris Argyris’ and others’ work on systems thinking; and, Reason’s “Swiss Cheese” model of accident causation. These serve as themes throughout the book, along with Zipperer’s assertion that “knowledge provides context for effort” and her ongoing work on patient safety.

Key points in selected chapters are discussed below. Readers are encouraged to get a copy of this atypical book to discover more!

The interviews noted above are particularly key resources for Part 2. It consists of Chapter 5 (“What Healthcare Knowledge Workers Can Teach Us About Knowledge Sharing”) and Chapter 6 (“Tacit Knowledge Insights from the Frontline”).

The long-term intent of Chapter 5 is to explicate and strengthen the relationship between tacit knowledge and healthcare practice in order to improve patient safety. This chapter also describes in detail the interview methodology, and then summarizes the knowledge sharing roles of the interviewees, organized by profession type. The calling out of unique knowledge sharing attributes, or the potential for them, in each profession is prescriptive, but in an interesting way. (A prescriptive, but encouraging, tone urging more attention to knowledge management, infuses much of the text.) For example, hospitalists, often involved with patient discharges, are urged to gather as much knowledge as possible about the care the patient received (with an eye toward improvement) at this final communication touchpoint before a patient leaves a hospital. Librarians and informationists are urged to leverage their broad knowledge gained from research and collegial networking to become champions of knowledge sharing at their hospitals and clinics.

Zipperer’s assumptions about tacit knowledge, and ways in which it sometimes is communicated (made explicit), form the structure of Chapter 6. Essentially all her assumptions (such as the fact that the term “tacit knowledge” is rarely used in healthcare, and that tacit knowledge is best shared face to face, especially in the typically hierarchical healthcare setting) are validated by the interviewees. This population included executives, clinicians, nurses, risk managers, librarians, and more. The phrase “What does this suggest?” leads off so many of the paragraphs that conclude each discussion of an assumption, that it gets a bit in the way of reading this chapter about the editor’s interesting research.

The authors of Chapter 7 ask if knowledge sharing effectiveness can be measured. They assert that if tacit knowledge is equated, at least to a fairly large degree, with intellectual capital, the sharing of it can be measured. They use this point to lead into a discussion of measurement venues, starting with a knowledge audit, then diving fairly deeply into social networking avenues, and ways to trace knowledge sharing within social constructs. The social networking discussion, while discussing use cases in healthcare, should be applicable to a variety of professions.

The concluding chapter is particularly intriguing. In it the authors compare healthcare practice to theatrical improvisation, calling both highly skilled art forms. SLA members Zipperer and Chindlund co-wrote this with Dr. Geri Amory, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at Coverys in Boston. “Fluid” use of knowledge on the “sharp end” (surgery and other direct patient care) and agile or “nimble” use of knowledge on the “blunt end” (one or more steps removed from patient care) are encouraged as useful aspects of improvisation. Table 9.2 on How Elements of Improvisational Theater Can Optimize Knowledge Sharing for Quality Care is particularly creative and warrants study.

This is a very interesting text. The healthcare terminology adds a bit of a challenge to readers not in that field, but the contexts typically illuminate the meanings. The use of visual and textual models throughout, as well as the pleasing and readable layout, also aid in understanding. The editor’s initial (one suspects she could mine more information) original research based on the interviews is intriguing, and the discussion by types of professions within a larger discipline could be used as a format for examining knowledge sharing and knowledge management in other arenas. I encourage members of the KM Division, and others in SLA, to read and learn from this book!

~ Sara Tompson, SLA KM Division 2015 Communications Chair

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Book Review by Barbie E. Keiser


The Taxobook is the latest in Morgan & Claypool’s ( “Synthesis Lectures on Information Concepts, Retrieval, and Services” series, edited by Gary Marchionini (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill). The series publishes “50- to 100-page publications on topics pertaining to information science and the applications of technology to information discovery, production, distribution, and management” (p.iii). This means that in a manageable number of brief chapters, author Marjorie Hlava, founder and president of Access Innovations, Inc. (, is able to focus on the history and philosophical development of taxonomies (Part 1), the steps necessary to develop an effective taxonomy (Part 2), and using your taxonomies to maximize retrieval (Part 3). Issued in three parts, the publisher gave me permission to download the work (in PDF format), though there is an ISBN for a print copy should you prefer to add this to your physical bookshelves (ISBN 9781627055789 print).

Thinking in Interconnected Outlines 

Taxobook is all about “creating and maintaining taxonomies and their practical applications, especially in search functions.” According to the author, “taxonomists think in a different way from the normal subject matter expert way of thinking. Taxonomy thinking is thinking in interconnected outlines. It is not the strictly linear thinking shown in a single taxonomy or hierarchical view of a taxonomy… but rather thinking for many people taking many approaches to a subject” (p.xx). In Part 1, subtitled “History, Theories, and Concepts of Knowledge Organization,” Hlava traces the development of thoughtful approaches to organizing the world. As she mentions in the Preface, it’s important to understand that differing viewpoints exist: “Knowing the differing viewpoints will help answer one fundamental question: why do we want to build taxonomies?”

In Chapter 1 of this first volume (the publisher designation for “Volume” is “Part”), Hlava explores the “Origins of Knowledge Organization Theory,” analyzing the approaches of early philosophers, including Plato and Aristotle in Greece and Pliny the Elder in Rome. Philosophical thought addressed in Chapter 2 is characterized by the “Realism and Nominalism” of Saints Augustine and Aquinas. Early naturalists, such as Carl Linnaeus, focus on the development of taxonomy nomenclature in Chapter 3. “The Age of Enlightenment Impacts Knowledge Theory” (Chapter 4) through the works of Rene Descartes and John Locke; “18th-Century Developments” (Chapter 5) brings knowledge theory to the foreground through a discussion of the writings of Immanuel Kant. “Classification Sharpens in the 19th and 20th Centuries” (Chapter 6) as evidenced in the works of Scottish metaphysicist James Frederick Ferrier, Carl Ammi Cutter (librarian at Harvard College), and Melvil Dewey.

After “Outlining the World and its Parts” (Chapter 7), we arrive at a discussion of facets in the work of the Indian mathematician Shilyali Ramamrita Ranganathan, “the father of modern library science.” Chapter 8 closes with a discussion of another modern thinker, Peter Mark Roget, a British physician who developed a thesaurus still in use today, updated to help the user make sense of the modern world. The final chapter of Part 1, “Points of Knowledge,” ends with a brief paragraph distinguishing data from information and knowledge: “Data, when organized or contextualized, becomes Information. When information becomes meaningful, it is referred to as knowledge. Knowledge, when personalized and applied to life circumstances, becomes wisdom.” While each of the three parts comprising this work ends with a glossary, the distinguishing feature of Part 1 has to be the gorgeous, not to be missed illustrations.

Metadata and Taxonomies

Hlava opens Part 2 “with a discussion of reasons to embark on the taxonomy journey…a discussion of metadata and how taxonomies and metadata are related, and then consider how, where, and why taxonomies are used.” After “a brief discussion of the interrelationships among taxonomies, metadata, and information architecture,” the author focuses on taxonomy basics and the importance of vocabulary control; types of tagging; pre- and post-coordinate indexing; hierarchical structure for vocabularies; and “the differences among various kinds of controlled vocabularies, such as taxonomies, thesauri, authority files, and ontologies” (p. x). Her discussion of how taxonomies and metadata feed into information structure is clear and concise.

Steps required to build a taxonomy begin with defining the focus; collecting and organizing terms; analyzing your vocabulary for even coverage over subject areas; filling in gaps; creating relationships between terms; and applying those terms to your content. Think you’re done? “No,” says Hlava. Here’s where many organizations fall down on the job: Regular, scheduled maintenance is a critical component of taxonomy construction projects.

A Case for Taxonomy

In “Building a Case for Building a Taxonomy” (Chapter 1), Hlava defines a taxonomy as “a way to describe content… Taxonomy terms are subject metadata” (p. 2). She proceeds to describe how taxonomies and thesauri are used “to manage a collection of information resources” with indexing (or categorizing) each resource being “essential means for managing (organizing) such resources” (p. 4). According to the author, controlled vocabularies assure that “each concept covered by the vocabulary is represented by one and only one term that is valid for indexing” (p.5).

Taxonomies or thesauri can be used for navigation and search, or to browse—drilling down within a hierarchical list. The goal is precise retrieval. In this chapter, in particular, Hlava employs numerous examples from real life shopping expeditions, both in-store and online, to illustrate the differences among useful and less-than-useful approaches to organizing where to find what. “Your taxonomy project should start with the goal of helping people find useful information” (p. 12).

Chapter 2 is devoted to “Taxonomy Basics,” including why vocabulary control is important (for translation, consistency, indication of relationships, label and browse, retrieval). Through several examples of hierarchical taxonomies, the author illustrates various aspects of taxonomies that include elements that were heretofore present in thesauri alone, such as equivalence and associative relationships. The chapter provides a rationale for employing standards and the contribution that markup language lends to the process.

How to Build a Taxonomy

“Getting Started” (Chapter 3) walks the reader through the steps needed to build a taxonomy:

  • Define subject field(s);
  • Collect terms;
  • Organize terms;
  • Fill in gaps;
  • Flesh out and interrelate terms;
  • Apply to your data.

Beginning with sage advice for defining the focus and scope of your taxonomy—the result of lessons learned through over 600 controlled vocabularies for corporations, industry associations, not-for-profit organizations, publishers and database producers—the author describes four basic approaches to creating a taxonomy:

  1. Build from an existing vocabulary
  2. Combine several existing vocabularies
  3. Build from scratch
  4. Use a combination of these approaches.

Chapter 4 is devoted to “Terms: the Building Blocks of a Taxonomy,” starting with how to gather potential terms, identifying frequently used terms, and determining the number of terms you need. “Ultimately, it’s best to use the terms the users use… phrasing a term in the way somebody would normally say it” (p. 63-64). Advice on the form in which these terms should take—e.g., nouns, eliminate initial articles, plural, capitalization, initialisms/acronyms, spelling, commas, hyphens, apostrophes, and parentheses—is stated clearly, leaving no room for error and explaining why standards can assist.

“Building the Structure of Your Taxonomy” (Chapter 5) assists first-timers outline a taxonomy, typically with 16-20 broad categories used as “top terms.” The chapter continues with a discussion of hierarchical levels and relationships. Chapter 6 covers “Evaluation and Maintenance.” Once all of the terms in your list have been placed within one of the top terms, those left behind (“orphan terms”) should be resolved. Running records through a thesaurus will match records/content to terms. She advises the reader to: “Review your thesaurus on a regular basis to determine what updates you should make” (p.102). The chapter closes with a list of common mistakes that are made and additional “rules of thumb.” Chapter 7 explains the impact that standards can have on thesaurus construction and taxonomy implementation and includes an abbreviated guide to taxonomy-related standards (e.g., ANSI/NISO and ISO).

 Taxonomy and Search

The fact that search engines “return millions of hits within milliseconds” is an indication that “search needs help” (p. xix). In Part 3, subtitled “Applications, Implementation, and Integration in Search,” Hlava discusses “the various ways in which you can apply, implement, and integrate your taxonomy” into a workflow, emphasizing integrating a taxonomy into search (p. xxi). In Chapter 1, Hlava covers all you need to know BEFORE you start implementing your taxonomy, including assessing software needs for taxonomies and thesauri; taxonomy editing; views and output formats; document indexing; handling metadata in database and content management systems; and search software. Chapter 2 addresses “Taxonomy and Thesaurus Implementation” in five easy steps. Hlava advises readers to put users first and data second, then map the ideal solution, followed by specifying the schema for the ideal data set and lastly, assess the roadmap to the “ideal.” The sections on taxonomies in SharePoint and automatic metadata generation and extraction contain illustrations to clarify the process.

In Chapter 3, Hlava connects taxonomy to search, employing analogies to illustrate important points about what users expect and how workflow and user interface contribute to the assembly of a search-capable system. “How is a Taxonomy Connected to Search?” presents guidelines for developing effective search quality measures by highlighting the contributions to the development of search approaches beyond ranking algorithms, natural language processing, parsing, clustering, and faceted search. Here, Hlava also summarizes the contributions to the development of various search approaches of George Boole (Boolean algebra), Thomas Bayes (Bayes’ Theorem/the Baysian approach), Peter D. Turney (Turney’s algorithm, useful for sentiment analysis), and Marco Dorigo (ant colony optimization algorithms). “Implementing a Taxonomy in a Database or on a Website” (Chapter 4) is followed by a look at the future, “What lies ahead for knowledge organization?” (Chapter 5).

About the Author, Marjorie Hlava 

The author, Marjorie Hlava, is probably known to members of SLA. An SLA Fellow, Ms. Hlava has served two terms on SLA’s Board of Directors, receiving the SLA President’s Award for her work in standards, and was the founding chair of the Taxonomy Division. Her company, Access Innovations (, is probably best known for its suite of software for content creation, taxonomy management, and automated categorization for portals and data collections, Data Harmony (

A prolific author of over 200 articles covering such topics as automated indexing, thesaurus development, taxonomy creation, natural language processing, machine translations, and computer aided indexing, Marjorie launched her Taxodiary blog ( in 2010. Her workshops and presentations on thesaurus and taxonomy creation and maintenance were the basis of this three-part work. Marjorie’s straight-forward writing style makes this a go-to text for any budding taxonomist, as well as anyone who wants to understand how a taxonomy can be used to enable effective search.

Hlava, M. (2015). The taxobook. SanRafael, CA: Morgan & Claypool. ISBN 9781627055796 (ebook)

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Book Review: Designing a successful KM strategy: A guide for the knowledge management professional

Book Review by Barbie E. Keiser

At the outset of Designing a successful KM strategy: A guide for the knowledge management professional,authors Barnes and Milton—KM consultants who base this work on their combined 40+ years of experience in the corporate world—insist that building a business case prior to implementing any KM project is key to its success. In 20 brief chapters, the authors advise readers how to succeed with their KM programs by building a KM strategy, step-by-detailed-step. The titles of these chapters indicate precisely what the reader can expect to find within, set forth clearly and succinctly. For those who are visual learners, the figures sprinkled throughout the book illustrate what the text describes in words. Each chapter ends with a summary and “next steps” section that foreshadows what is to come in the following chapter; notes at the end of the chapter contain URLs for those who want to know more.

The authors’ premise is, “a sound KM strategy will help you define where you are heading, and what the end point should be” (p. xxiii), avoiding the typical pitfalls encountered by 80% of KM programs (i.e., KM is not introduced with an operational focus or as a change program; the KM team does not have the right people to deliver change; KM is never embedded into the organization’s processes and activities). Chapter 1 sets the stage by explaining What Exactly Is Knowledge Management, and Why Do We Need It?; Chapter 2 defines The Knowledge Manager Role and includes position descriptions that will be helpful beyond the manager position.

In Chapter 3, the authors begin Making the Case for a Knowledge Management Strategy that:

  1. Knowledge is an asset for your organization
  2. Knowledge is currently being managed sub-optimally, and
  3. The organization needs a KM strategy.

Barnes and Milton stress the need to collect evidence that KM needs to be improved in an organization, identifying the telltale signs and how the KM manager can use this as ammunition to get buy-in from the C-suite to authorize “further investigation of KM, ideally including current state assessment, potentially including a scan of existing knowledge topics, and definitely including development of a KM strategy” (p. 21).

The Ten Principles Behind Your KM Strategy are set forth in Chapter 4. Many cover what you’d expect, but the explanation as to how to roll out a pilot is exceptionally insightful. Chapter 5 (Strategy Structure, and Strategy Input) begins with an outline of an 11-section KM strategy document and how to collect input from others through interviews or workshops. Tables illustrate hour-by-hour content and purpose for the workshops.

In Chapter 6, Identifying the Underlying Business Imperatives and Drivers, the authors describe four potential business focus areas for KM: Organizational excellence; Customer knowledge; Innovation; Growth and Change. “The KM strategy should primarily address the most important of these four. Don’t spread yourself too thin; don’t try to do everything all at once” is their sage advice (p. 52). The chapter closes with an example of a clear business focus taken from an actual corporate KM strategy so that the reader can see how an organization might state the overall goal of a KM project and the value of KM to an organization in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.

What will your vision statement look like? Read Chapter 7 to learn how to create the vision and define the scope of KM. The chapter closes with sample scope statements from KM strategies at two organizations. In Chapter 8, the reader learns how to identify Strategic Knowledge Areas by employing either a top-down or bottom-up approach to determine critical knowledge supporting business activities; both approaches are advised. Barnes and Milton recommend ranking the importance of strategic areas so that the focus of any KM effort is on those areas in need of urgent attention. Chapter 9 presents questions that can be used in Assessing the Current State of KM in the Organization, outlining the assessment process and “what to do with the results” (p. 81). The chapter closes with examples of KM current state assessments from several organizations.

The focus of Chapter 10 is the Knowledge Management Framework and what is needed in order to define it, including the following:

  • Roles and accountabilities
  • Processes you will use
  • Technology needed to support these KM efforts

Chapter 11, Information and Content Management, concentrates on documented knowledge and the change management activities happening at each step of the KM technology roadmap process. The chapter closes with an excerpt from a KM Strategy on Information and Data Architecture. Knowledge Management Technology(Chapter 12) “takes a deeper look at the technologies that are available to support your Knowledge Management strategy and talks about the process of understanding your requirements and picking the right technology” (p. 103). In this chapter, the authors stress the need to understand how people do their work, the tools they use, and their expectations about the availability of technology and information. We are told why KM efforts need to be aligned with operational processes; a training and communications plan also is needed; KM metrics must be developed; and that any KM effort should be supported by senior management (along with cross-functional participation). Barnes and Milton stress that technology is just a means to an end, but requires an adequate budget. The chapter closes with a review of the various systems that should be in place in today’s modern organization, plus an example of how technology is treated in an actual KM Strategy Policy Plan.

Chapter 13 outlines the principles of Change Management developed by John Kotter, applying each to a KM effort. Chapter 14 focuses on Stakeholders, identifying stakeholder groups and how to influence each (hint: listen!). Chapter 15 helps the reader find candidate Pilot Projects. Making the Business Case and Determining ROI (Chapter 16) closes with an ROI example (cost-benefit analysis) taken from a law firm’s KM Strategic Plan. The Guerilla Strategy detailed in Chapter 17 is meant to help those knowledge managers who don’t have the backing of senior management in their organizations. There are still ways in which a KM project can get off the ground and be successful.

For organizations struggling with knowledge retention, Chapter 18 will be of enormous help. A Retention-Based Knowledge Management Strategy requires an assessment of the current state, mapping the scale and urgency of the problem. The selection of KM framework depends on the circumstances and time available. The example offered at the close of the chapter is drawn from the Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation.

Every KM project needs an implementation team, so Chapter 19 addresses the people skills required among team members:

  • Coaching and training skills
  • Facilitation/influencing skills
  • Marketing and communication skills
  • Familiarity with operational processes of the organization
  • Technology skills

The remaining sections of the chapter are devoted to helping organizations decide where their KM projects should report, ideal composition of the steering team, and an implementation plan that includes a timeline as well as required resources.

The final chapter of the book provides some words of wisdom about the change management aspect of KM, with a Communication Plan template appended to it. The authors remind the reader that the KM strategy is a key reference document—“a public record of your agreement with top management about the direction KM will take and the areas on which to focus. It will define the scope of your KM operations, and help you avoid squandering precious resources” (p. 188).

Designing a successful KM strategy would be a useful addition to any knowledge manager’s reference shelf, destined for frequent and extensive consultation. In fact, I’d distribute copies to reluctant senior managers—required reading!

Barnes, S. and Milton, N. (2014). Designing a successful KM strategy: A guide for the knowledge management professional. Medford, NJ: Information Today. 200 pp. ISBN 978-1-57387-510-3


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Book Review: Knowledge Management in Organizations: The View From Inside, Ulla de Stricker, ed.

Book Review by Barbie E. Keiser [@bekinc]

Knowledge Management Practice in Organizations: The View from Inside is part of IGI Global’s ( Advances in Knowledge Acquisition, Transfer, and Management (AKATM) Book Services, bringing “together research on emerging technologies and its effect on information systems and knowledge management.” In this text’s eleven chapters, seven information and knowledge management professionals, including the editor, Ulla de Stricker, president of a Toronto-based knowledge management consultancy, present both concepts and examples to illustrate how those KM plays out in the “real world.” Continue Reading

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Book Review: Knowledge Management Handbook: Collaboration and Social Networking, 2nd Ed., edited by Jay Liebowitz

Book Review by Barbie E. Keiser [@bekinc]

Since the first Knowledge Management Handbook was published in 1999, “social” has become part of everyone’s life – virtual interactions with relatives and friends, as well as collaborative efforts among teams of colleagues (at work or volunteer group efforts). The contributors to this volume are not concerned with institutions and organizations creating social networking opportunities for the sake of being “cool” and doing what the literature says other organizations (i.e., their competition) are doing. These are purposeful efforts making it possible and easy for individuals and teams of workers to share knowledge with one another. The cases highlighted in this second edition focus on how collaborative tools and knowledge sharing efforts facilitate goal achievement, often moving organizations in directions they had not thought to go before and pivoting more quickly than they’d been able to in the past. This ability to adapt to new situations and take advantage of opportunities as they arise is the penultimate goal of knowledge management (KM).

In the first chapter, Jay Liebowitz – Orkand Endowed Chair of Management and Technology, Graduate School of Management and Technology, University of Maryland University College (UMUC) – expertly sets the stage for what is to come, providing the reader with a “short case” of the “university model.” Liebowitz describes how UMUC was building informal networks among faculty designed to foster university research and scholarship (p.3). The specifics of what was done – new tools created, events organized, and new metrics introduced to measure success – is the perfect beginning for the remaining chapters and the contributions by more than 30 academics and KM practitioners from seven countries.

The cases included in this volume highlight KM projects in a diverse set of organizations: universities, government agencies, not-for-profits, and corporations. Readers will find an aspect of “social” that fits their organization’s current needs in terms of tools or techniques, or examine how an organization within a particular sector is using KM to its advantage.

This collection of chapters by thought leaders in the KM space give readers a unique perspective on “what works.” The basic structure used for chapter development is intelligently designed so that those familiar with KM as well as those new to the discipline are brought up-to-speed quickly, illustrating how the case fits into a broader concept and KM theory. Each chapter includes some introduction or background to that aspect of KM highlighted in the ensuing case. A brief history of the case before a formal KM program was introduced often touches on prior efforts to address organizational challenges related to information and knowledge sharing. This is followed by an in-depth discussion of the implementation effort, step-by-step, lessons learned from the effort, and implications for the future, including the identification of additional research needed – perfect fodder for a PhD candidate.

Four academics from the Judge Business School, University of Cambridge (UK) – Celine Miani, Markos Zachariadis, Eivor Oborn, and Michael Barrett – lead off with a discussion of how knowledge sharing ensures innovation coherence, “the alignment and relevance of the innovation goals and visions with the broader market environment (externally), and within the network itself (internally)” (p.13). Their case study involves the development of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) within the National Health Services (NHS). Clinicians are expected to keep up with advances in technology as well as research, using this knowledge to improve healthcare outcomes and increase efficiency at hospitals. The CCGs – “clusters of physician-led primary care practices responsible for the procurement of health services for a given population” – are designed to “explore new possibilities in order to develop novel commissioning activities… collaborate with colleagues and external stakeholders, and seek advice from peers in different clusters or within their group” (p.16). Important aspects of network membership management and governance are explored in-depth by the authors.

Denise Bedford (Kent State University) begins Chapter 3 with an introduction to communities of practice (CoP) and the characteristics that successful CoPs exhibit. “Religious Communities of Practice and Knowledge Management—The Potential for Cross-Domain Learning” continues by exploring the interplay between religious communities and knowledge management. “Today, across the United States, economic and social factors are contributing to the loss of religious communities of practice (i.e., churches). The mainstream media reported on church closings that are the result of decisions from the church hierarchy… (or) a failure to rejuvenate the church community,” i.e., membership. Bedford gives us two case studies of church communities leveraging knowledge management methods to “survive and thrive” (p.33).

Kimiz Dalkir’s (McGill University) exquisite case study describes how Oxfam Quebec worked with one of Oxfam International’s partner organizations in Peru, Vichama, collaborating on a knowledge transfer project, what participants thought would happen, and what actually transpired that surprised participants. These lessons learned are applicable in almost any KM effort.

Theresa Norton (Community Analytics, looked at how knowledge exchange could improve outcomes in a global health program involving multiple partners. “With increasingly complex global health programs, effective use of aid funds requires a rigorous approach to knowledge management—the systematic use of people, processes, and technology to capture and share “know-how.” The flow of knowledge needs to occur within and among partner organizations, across geographic and language boundaries, so that program teams can learn from each other and function as a cohesive whole. Ultimately, global programs aim to scale up the adoption of high-impact health practices for better health outcomes of populations… The case study… illustrates a mixed approach to knowledge management interventions used for a large-scale global health program. The interventions used provide for variations in technology access and networking preferences. A discussion of knowledge translation, social networking, and team collaboration concepts, drawn from literature, follows the case study to provide insight into the effectiveness of the approaches used” (p. 63-64). One example presented in this chapter is the IBP Initiative supporting “over 50 time-bound global discussion forums on a wide range of reproductive health topics” (

The chapter by Ulrike Becker-Korstaedt and Forrest Shull (Fraunhofer Center for Experimental Software Engineering, College Park, MD) discusses how software developers choose the right practice—methods, tools, and techniques—for a given software engineering project. EMPEROR (Experience Management Portal using Empirical Results as Organizational Resources) provides “valuable and validated experience to users… Experience is handled, summarized, and interpreted by experts worldwide, who are working collaboratively and constructively, and are tapped according to their experience (p.90)… The goal of EMPEROR is to build high-quality evidence through the efficient coordination of experts handling experience with practices” (p.93). The authors highlight the need for trustability, efficient expert collaboration, and usability in KM solutions. Their case describes how users were given a feeling of content structure through seeding of the system and the interviewing, vetting, and training of experts.

Moira Levy (Israel) explores the productivity of the knowledge worker through real-time knowledge management, focusing her research “on those employees who have to decide and give answers here and now,” including call center representatives at service centers, front-line bankers, and medical physicians.

Maureen Hammer and Katherine Clark introduce the concept of vertical and horizontal networks built to support organizational business at the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT). The authors provide a history of what they describe as traditional knowledge transfer at VDOT and a move toward greater collaboration and the application of networking principles to resolve some workforce issues, such as reductions in staffing levels. Their case study details a series of Communities of Practice (CoPs) built, noting that further research was needed, particularly “how to integrate networks across lines of business within an organization… and successful onboarding of new employees into an organization” (p.148).

Jackson, Wise, and Norton introduce the reader to the concept of social network analysis (SNA) at a pharmaceutical company. The Community Analytics’ ( approach used to connect brands with existing communities involved four steps to increase prescribing of a particular branded drug: Opportunity identification (mapping the network, identifying new members and influencers, gap analysis); Partnership building; Connectivity facility; and Relationship sustainability.

The case study by Gloria Phillips-Wren (Sellinger School of Business and Management, Loyola University Maryland) and Louise Humphreys (Price Modern LLC) involves an office furniture dealership representing over 200 different manufacturers. “The chapter presents social media as a value-added differentiator opportunity for a small business-to-business organization” examining “the introduction of social media into Price Modern… “Best Practices” initiative, sales force development, and information flow to existing and new customers in order to maintain and build the trusted relationships relied on for decades in the new and socially expected way” (p. 169). The teaming of an academic and businessperson results in elegantly presented theory applied to a real life situation.

A team of seven academics from the Department of Knowledge and Communication Management, Danube University (Austria) introduces the concept of visual knowledge network analytics. Their case presents multiple representations of collaborations and communication of members in a university department illustrating how these different views affect analysis.

Francisco Cantu and Hector Ceballos (University of Mexico) case study also deals with social network analysis in a university setting – this time multidisciplinary scientific research collaboration. A database stores information about research professors and graduate students, research chairs and centers, and graduate programs, plus research chair members’ scientific publications: journal articles, conference papers, patents, books and book chapters, these, and technical reports. Academic profiles of research professors can be searched for potential co-authors with expertize in a specialization. (Students often use the database to select thesis advisor.) Analysis of publications for extent of collaboration indicates that many research “chairs have at least one publication with authors from at least two disciplines and that a good number of the publications have one or more authors from at least two research chairs” (p.216).

Andrew Campbell and Melvin Brown used their expertise designing, building, and implementing two enterprise-scale collaboration and information sharing programs for the federal government as the basis for their chapter, “Knowledge Management and Collaboration: Big Budget Results in a Low Budget World.” They readily admit to “a bias against centrally controlled and highly moderated collaboration and knowledge management,” rarely seeing them work at an enterprise scale. They “also knew that without strong distributed leadership, the system would simply collapse as it grew… We needed trained network administrators embedded in the workgroups” (p.223). Key features of their approach for implementing a SharePoint solution included:

1. Governance by business owners

2. A dedicated full-time director or leader

3. Tactical approach to problem solving

4. Rapid turnaround of solution prototypes

5. Facilitator-led, customized training

6. Facilitators or trained admins embedded in workgroups

7. Locally led innovation and sustainment

8. Governance enforced by facilitators and a representative governing body

9. Supportive, not controlling role by the IT shop

10. Metrics.

Sudhakar and Kruthiventi (India) provide a KM case study from their own workplace, Tata Chemicals, while Bradley Hilton and Michael Prevou look at high-performing teams of leaders (ToL), based on the U.S. Army approach to geographically-dispersed cross-boundary teams consisting “of leaders from different organizations brought together to leverage the expertise, experience, and resources of their entire organization” (p.278). Based on their work portrayed here, the authors conclude: “the traditional knowledge management framework needs to be reevaluated and reoriented on the human dimension and the centrality of people within a broader and more comprehensive knowledge environment framework. More technology will not solve challenges connecting people to one another, especially when crossing traditional boundaries of culture and organization” (p.297).

What may be missing from this work – if anything – is a concluding chapter that circles back around, reminding the reader of the important lessons learned and recurring themes. A brief biographical sketch – just a few sentences – also would have been an interesting addition to the volume. There is a list of contributors that includes their affiliation, city and state or country, as relevant, but additional points of contact would help to eliminate unnecessary steps for the interested reader. The subtitle of the work does include “social,” after all.

Knowledge Management Handbook: Collaboration and Social Networking, second edition, edited by Jay Liebowitz (CRC Press ©2012, 299pp.)

A Guide to Global Best Practice and Standards in KM
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In November 2018, the International Standards Organization (ISO) published its new standard on knowledge management - ISO 30401. This is the first standard on knowledge management (KM) ever to be introduced and is global and industry agnostic.

A Guide to Global Best Practice and Standards in KMshowcases topical and current case studies, explaining how each organization intends to implement the Standard in their organization.
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A Guide to Global Best Practice and Standards in KM covers topics including:
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A Guide to Global Best Practice and Standards in KM fearures case studies and pragmatic insights from:
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  • Karen Elson, major projects consultant and chartered engineer, Olympics Learning Legacy
  • Rupert Ashley Lescott, specialist in knowledge management, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA)
  • Darryl Wing, director of knowledge management, Fluor
  • Patrick DiDomenico, chief knowledge officer, Ogletree, Deakins, and James Lee, co-founder and CEO, LegalMation
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