The Knowledge Culture: It’s Where You Want to Work

Written By: Guy St. Clair of SMR International


With respect to knowledge management and knowledge services, the modern workplace can be a remarkably gratifying environment. Why? Because for those knowledge services professionals authorized, responsible, and accountable for how well enterprise-wide information, knowledge, and strategic learning are managed – the organization’s knowledge strategists – their role is not only important, it is now regarded as critical. And it becomes more and more critical as enterprise leaders come to understand that organizational effectiveness relates directly to how well organizational knowledge is developed, shared, and utilized.


Knowledge Strategists Defining Characteristic

Without question, knowledge strategists have a defining characteristic. It is that they are knowledge services professionals who have achieved a certain level of expertise and experience and, as such, they have achieved a standing within the organization that contributes to their success in their work. And regardless of what they are called (information specialists, research managers, specialist librarians, content specialists, corporate archivists, knowledge services coordinators, or identified with some other designation), their line of work can most plausibly be referred to as that of the knowledge strategist. And each knowledge strategist has a very specific charge, to use their expertise and experience to ensure that the larger organization functions as a knowledge culture.



Why so? Because In today’s well-managed company, knowledge value is understood to be the new management emphasis. As enterprise leaders recognize knowledge services as the driver for enabling organizational success, the organization is re-shaped as a knowledge culture. It becomes a workplace in which knowledge development, knowledge sharing, and knowledge utilization (often designated with the acronym “KD/KS/KU”) are practiced successfully and – to ensure continued success – under the authority of the knowledge strategist.


Role and Value of Knowledge Culture

In seeking to understand the role and value of the knowledge culture, we look at KM and knowledge services. We recognize that society (locally or globally) requires attention to knowledge and to KD/KS/KU, and we understand that the organization cannot grow, expand, and evaluate its success without attention to the quality of the knowledge that forms the critical foundation of its success.

Within most organizations, it is understood that, as a knowledge culture, there are several specific attributes, and most of us generally emphasize three:

  1. Collaboration is a given – and expected – at all levels of the organization
  2. The role of information technology (IT) in the KD/KS/KU process is acknowledged and enthusiastically embraced
  3. The intellectual foundations for the effort – for succeeding with KD/KS/KU – are respected and the intellectual quest is not disdained.

With these characteristics – and functioning as part of the enterprise-wide KM/knowledge services framework and under the leadership of the knowledge strategist – the organization can aspire to move forward and expect to be more than it is. Obviously the highest standards of excellence in knowledge services delivery will be required.


Leadership of the Knowledge Strategist

Under the leadership of the knowledge strategist the knowledge culture will be created and enabled to continue, coming from and building on the efforts of everyone in the organization seeking to achieve those highest standards of excellence. It is this knowledge excellence that positions the organization as a knowledge culture, a valid institutional aspiration.

“Guy St. Clair is President, Consulting Specialist for Knowledge Strategy, and Knowledge Services Evangelist for SMR International. In his professional work, Guy is recognized as an expert adviser in knowledge services and in building the organizational knowledge culture, with a special emphasis on knowledge strategy development.”

Guy was awarded SLA’s top honor, the John Cotton Dana award, at the 2019 SLA Annual Conference. Learn more about Guy St. Clair’s accolades and his life time of achievements here.