Knowledge Map

Brief Description (including a definition if possible)

A knowledge map is a tool for presenting what knowledge resides where (e.g. people, media, organizational units or sources of knowledge outside the organisation) and for demonstrating the patterns of knowledge flow (access, distribution, learning).
(Source: SDC Learning&Networking)

History (if applicable)



When to use

Knowledge mapping is the first step in creating an inventory of knowledge (i.e. the knowledge base) and developing/improving the processes of knowledge sharing. Its principal purpose and clearest benefit is to show people in an organization or within a network/supply chain very fast where to go when they need expertise. It also helps to understand what knowledge is essential or at risk to be lost and thus needs to be reused or “secured”. Based on knowledge maps organizations can go about developing new models for improving knowledge sharing and knowledge flow and the fulfillment of their mission and goals. Knowledge maps can also help in organizing research activities and analyzing the related flow and impact of knowledge. The most common way of presenting a knowledge map is a simple graph with typically 60- 100 nodes representing knowledge repositories/sources and connections representing the flow of knowledge (in a physical or mental sense).
(Source: SDC Learning&Networking)

How to use

  1. In a series of interviews ask people to provide information about the (structure of) knowledge in the concerned domain (what is linked to each other, how)
  2. Let them rate the importance for the company, the difficulty to replace it, whether it is acquired mainly from study or practice and the proportion of staff in the knowledge area who would also know about it.
  3. Plot the results on a knowledge map.
  4. Analyze the knowledge map and integrate the results in a knowledge management strategy, keeping in mind that a knowledge map is a momentary snapshot and might change.
(Source: SDC Learning&Networking)

Tips and Lessons Learnt

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Examples & Stories

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“We have been using Knowledge Mapping in Bolivia during my time in the CooF to map outstanding capacities of our partner organisations and their staff in fields relevant for development cooperation (www.cosude.org.bo ; gestión de conocimientos). The idea behind this mapping was to foster the access to skilled and experienced people within the SDC network. The CooF thus got a less central position in the knowledge sharing, but more the role of a knowledge broker. The knowledge map has also been used to identify lessons learned presented on the SDC Website.”
Willi Graf, SDC
(Source: SDC Learning&Networking)

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