The Chief Knowledge Officer’s role: Challenges and competencies

Guns, Bob (1998),”The Chief Knowledge Officer’s Role: Challenges and Competencies”, Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 1 Iss. 4, pp. 315 – 319

CKOs must convert knowledge into profit by leveraging the corporation’s intellectual assets.

2 dimensions:

  • creating the corporation as a learning organization
  • developing a knowledge infrastructure


Setting Knowledge Management strategic priorities

Getting a knowledge (Best Practices) database up and running

Gaining commitment of business leaders to better support a learning environment

Transforming a centre for shared intelligence into that of intelligence provocateurs

Putting in place a process for managing intellectual assets

Obtaining customer satisfaction information from customers in ‘near’ real time

Globalizing Knowledge Management

CKO Competencies

Interpersonal communication skills

Were deemed to be the most important competency. With the passage of time, this particular competency may be overtaken in importance by others.

Passionate, visionary leadership

The ‘torchbearer’ connotation is important. These CKOs demonstrated an attitude of being at the forefront of something, at the leading edge, potentially at the beginning of a revolution.

Business acumen

Business acumen also means being familiar with financial levers, what kinds of strategies will impact those levers, and how to implement those strategies.

Strategic thinking skills

The CKO, after all, is expected to work on this ‘new’ strategic lever – intellectual capital.

Being a champion of change

The major cultural barrier the CKO has to overcome, however, is the deeply embedded belief that ‘knowledge is power’. Helping to shift the culture to one of ‘sharing knowledge is power’ is a major hurdle that a champion of change has to surmount.

Collaborative skills

The ability to interact with people across major functions and geographic reach of the business is fundamental to their success in this position. Implicit in this competency is the ability to build a team.

The missing competency: integrative skills

The CKO needs to command a broad perspective of the business, and integrate all the relevant pieces within that perspective in order to leverage intellectual capital.

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