Reference and guide to SFIA version 7. Framework status: Beta.

#7 Knowledge needs to be addressed more explicitly: change request accepted

SFIA's position on knowledge while correct does need to be reviewed and enhanced. Few seem to understand the position or why the particular position was taken. Knowledge needs to be revisited and addressed in such a way that it is clearly understood and allows the position to be used effectively.

This requirement has come about because:

  • Several large organisations and professional bodies have requested that the Foundation addresses knowledge.
  • Many people think that SFIA does not address the importance of knowledge and do not understand the position in the reference guide.
  • As a result of many discussions and collaborations I have a formed a view and proposal for how this can be properly addressed And this needs to be worked on more widely.

It is clearly required by industry, business, academia and training providers.

Subject to approval to take this change request forward, then this can be fleshed out for wider review and contribution.  In summary we should:

  1. Clarify the SFIA position regarding knowledge in the reference guide
  2. Introduce a model to address knowledge into the Framework
  3. Consider one component of this to be an inclusion of knowledge in the generics

Further to be provided once accepted for development.

Attached to Levels of responsibility


What we decided


What we changed

Addition of a new generic responsibility for knowledge at all level 1 to 7.

Addition of a Knowledge management skill at level 2 to 7.

Guidance notes to be published as part of SFIA7 reference material.

Beth Coleman says:
Aug 28, 2017 11:24 PM

I support the request for clarification of the SFIA position regarding knowledge in the reference guide. I support open contribution on the definition of knowledge and its application in various skills associated with activities (such as those associated with code CSMG) for this purpose.

Clare Thornley says:
Oct 16, 2017 08:43 AM

I agree we need to be careful that is does not look like SFIA is saying knowledge is not important and clarity on how SFIA is using 'knowledge' would certainly be useful. It is clearly not possible just to provide a list of all knowledge needed for any particular skill but there should be some alternative which meets the needs of users ( most of most of time..)

Matthew Burrows says:
Oct 18, 2017 06:15 PM

Maybe one way of recognising this is to consider Blooms taxonomy, where knowledge is level 1, understanding is level 2 and application is level 3. Currently the skills in SFIA are about level 3 as you can’t have a skill unless you have applied your knowledge and understanding enough times that you can achieve consistent results when doing what is described by SFIA and you have effectively mastered the skill at a particular level. If you consider a pilot, they don’t get their licence after reading a book or passing a theory exam. They don’t even get it when completing their first landing. They have to show they can safely and consistently operate a plane in multiple scenarios - landing in crosswind, with no power, with no flaps, in poor visibility, on short runways etc. Knowledge can be mapped to the skills to reflect the need for knowledge and understanding, but it’s not a skill and it’s not a responsibility - so, if we extend SFIA to better cover this area, it needs to be a clearly distinguishable different dimension. Level 1 Business Skills already covers the skill of being able to apply newly acquired knowledge.

Ian Seward says:
Nov 26, 2017 12:30 PM

This clearly needs discussion. In the various discussions I have been having knowledge seems to be either on most people's lips as wanting something in SFIA or a way to address their assertion that they are 'special'. Since it comes up so often and seems to be something that is either not commonly understood or accepted then we need to do something more about it.

Certainly we need to clarify the SFIA position on knowledge - it is clear to those who read and discuss it - but it is not clear without this discussion. We also have to recognise that the knowledge issue is what often drives the increasing number of frameworks unnecessarily (frequently with commercial vested interest). Also, to Matthews point, we need to address the pushing of knowledge as measure of competency which is quite common and some of these activities are global in nature.

I believe that with the right solution (the right level of inclusion and guidance), then this will both strengthen the Framework and also be responsive to the many organisations that are using Frameworks to develop the competency of their people. Rather than leave opportunity for misinterpretation.

I like the linkage to Blooms - where it goes needs to be discussed ... it's not a skill as Matthew points out; it may be best in the Generic Responsibilities as BS touches on it ... and after all for SFIA to remain generic then perhaps this is the best place ... to be discussed more I think.

Beth Coleman says:
Nov 26, 2017 07:28 PM

There are 3 dimensions that could be considered when investigating the way forward. The first dimension is the concept that knowledge is an asset of the organization and, as such, is something that ideally can be made explicit through interaction and documentation of that interaction. The second dimension is the use of knowledge (the organizational asset) to assist the organization to achieve it's goals (such as greater customer loyalty or 'success' (a term often used by TSIA). The 3rd is the acquisition of knowledge for the purpose of application of that knowledge in relation to a role within an organization that requires people to apply that knowledge (such as ITIL expert level training) or the role of Knowledge Manager, with strategic consideration of repositories, taxonomies, and linkages for access to documents, files, and other critical written material, or the information captured in the software development life cycle for later use by SM teams. There is also the role of the knowledge technician who will be engaging machine learning and AI tools in formulating meaningful interactions with customers in knowledge portals (and beyond) such as bot interactions. I would like to part of the discussion and include all three dimensions initally.

Ian Seward says:
Nov 26, 2017 08:03 PM

Actually I was thinking of something a little simpler, addressed an approach to making use of knowledge and reflected what organisations and people need; people with skills and appropriate knowledge. Nobody disputes that knowledge is important but almost universally when people talk about a skills gap they are usually describing a knowledge gap.

The Framework should not be defining specific knowledge as it can rarely get that right (there are several examples of this elsewhere) I think it should be stating what type of knowledge and what level of knowledge is appropriate. That way there is an explicit statement of the relationship between knowledge and skills that can be used by all effectively. After all, many skills are generic and transferrable but often knowledge is not ... but often gaining new knowledge is more straightforward than gaining new skill ... and actually this is the only way to address the so called 'skills gap'.

Looking for something generic and simple here ...

Beth Coleman says:
Nov 27, 2017 01:34 AM

So, to address the so called 'skills gap', address the relationship between skills and knowledge and what level of knowledge is appropriate for a skill, perhaps we could walk through a few examples? Is there a knowledge base of the feedback collected from the large bodies and professional bodies requesting further work on knowledge in the framework that can be referenced?

SFIA7 Project Manager (Peter Leather) says:
Nov 28, 2017 08:48 AM

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