About KM

Within global health and development, knowledge management (KM) is about utilizing and leveraging what is already known to work to achieve the greatest impact and improve outcomes in organizations and projects (see tab on Measuring KM for more on outcomes).

KM involves transforming intangible, tacit knowledge (i.e., information in people’s heads) into explicit knowledge (i.e., knowledge in a format that can be stored and shared with others). This graphic depicts the relationship between tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge--while explicit knowledge is more easily visible, most knowledge is tacit knowledge. KM activities often involve capturing and organizing both explicit and tacit knowledge that organizations and programs generate, so as to be applied to maximize an organization’s effectiveness and efficiency or to improve an aspect of a health system.

The three main components of KM are: 1) people/culture, 2) process, and 3) technology. Many people focus on technology solutions when they think of KM. However, KM could not exist without the people and processes for which technology serves as an enabling mechanism. 

The Knowledge for Health Project created a short video, "Knowledge Management: Strengthening Health Services, Saving Lives," to introduce the concept of KM and its importance for global health and development.

To further introduce you to KM basics, this section includes a compilation of resources that provide:

  • A snapshot about KM concepts, both across industries and specific to global health and development;
  • An in-depth overview of KM, with additional resources specific for global health and development professionals as well as insights into the history of how KM emerged as a discipline and where we are today; and
  • Glossaries of KM terms.