Certification: Valuable Credential or Snake Oil?

You can get certified for just about everything these days, and knowledge management (KM) is no exception. A group called the Knowledge Management Certification Board (KMCB) has developed guidelines for certification as a CKM (Certified Knowledge Manager) or CKEE (Certified Knowledge Environmental Engineer). And NOCA (National Commission for Certifying Agencies), which accredits certifying boards for nurse practitioners, financial planners, dietitians and opticians, among others, is considering accrediting KMCB, too. It sounds impressive at first glance, but is it worth your time and money?

Not surprisingly Ed Swanstrom thinks so. He's managing partner of eKnowledgeCenter .com in Tucson, Ariz., which offers the only certification program approved by KMCB. His program, which costs approximately $3,500, is a combination of prerequisite courses done through e-learning and face-to-face workshops. According to Swanstrom, it's the best wayto get the kind of hands-on training you need to handle the most complex KM problems.

But CIO columnist Tom Davenport, director of the Andersen Consulting Institute for Strategic Change, based in Wellesley, Mass., is skeptical. Aside from the obvious moneymaking component, Davenport says the field of knowledge management is too unfocused and in flux for a certification program to be particularly useful. "I wouldn't put a whole lot of weight on certification if I were hiring a knowledge manager," he says. "I'd value it a lot less than an MBA or a master's in library or information science."

Naturally, Swanstrom calls this "the wrong attitude to take." He says, "We'd never get far if we were always waiting for a point where it's not new anymore."

This story, "Certification: Valuable Credential or Snake Oil?" was originally published by CIO.

Copyright © 2000 IDG Communications, Inc.

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