You Need to Manage Knowledge Rather Than People

Luca Vettor
3 min readMar 22


A library can change the people around it because it feeds their minds; that’s the mark of knowledge management

Generated by the author with DALL-E — Prompt: “Knowledge workers in their daily life”

Based on Wikipedia:

Knowledge management (KM) is the collection of methods relating to creating, sharing, using, and managing the knowledge and information of an organization.

Behind a set of methods, there is always an intention to dominate.

Well: behind knowledge management, there’s the intention of regulating how to feed people’s minds with specific knowledge. The crucial point is the indirection of this kind of management: not people’s minds, but what they can find to nurture their minds.

Am I evoking Orwell’s 1984?

Decisions are made up of knowledge

Whoever makes a decision has a need and a purpose within a context:

  • The context: What makes it necessary to make the decision.
  • The need: Enough knowledge to make the decision.
  • The purpose: Achieve a result.

In other words, people within a context need enough knowledge to decide how to achieve a result.

Moreover, the knowledge needed to decide is the same awareness that gives meaning and value to the purpose.

Knowledge has a pervasive role in making decisions: it’s not only a decision’s enabler but a decision producer. Knowledge is the substance of the context in which the decision is needed, too.

Knowledge elaborates decisions

Deciding is organizing actions to change the context from state A to another state B. That’s elaborating a plan to get result B given A.

Again, you need the knowledge to elaborate a plan. And you need the knowledge to assess both A and B.

There is such a close relationship between deciding and possessing the knowledge necessary to make that decision that we can see its equivalence:

decision = knowledge

The consequence is that knowledge management is decision management.

People are centers of decisions

From the moment we open our eyes in the morning, waking from sleep, until we close them again, falling asleep, we make decisions.

Imagine we eradicate from humans the ability and possibility to make decisions: what is left? Nothing more than a mere biological engine that we would hardly consider human.

That leads us to the second equivalence:

people = decisions

Well: combining with the first equivalence leads to an interesting consequence: people are the knowledge they need to make decisions.

Here we are: Knowledge management is people management because it shapes people’s decision-making abilities.

Knowledge management is a cognitive territory

Back to Orwell’s 1984: Is knowledge management a way to control people?

No, it’s not.

Knowledge is for people’s decisions what the DNA is for people’s life: a key enabler factor. Would genetics control our behavior? In science fiction, it’s possible; in real life, genetics is part of the environment that shapes our behavior. That’s the indirection between managing knowledge and managing people.

Knowledge management empowers decision-making: From this point of view, it is not an instrument of control but rather the cognitive territory in which people move to make decisions.


People are the decisions they make. Decisions are knowledge in action.

Knowledge management is, first and foremost, an awareness of these equivalences: Far from aiming at controlling people, this gives a method for organizing the matter of thought.

That’s why you need to manage knowledge instead of people. Then people will govern themselves to achieve the results that get meaning in the horizon of thought that knowledge enables.

Think of the great library of Alexandria, and you’ll get the essence of knowledge management.

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Luca Vettor

Writer, technical communicator, thinking designer, husband, and, recently, father. My truth: Things are less complex when you write them down!