Many knowledge management (KM) efforts revolve around managing documents in a repository or enabling better real-time communication. An ideal approach would combine these with the ability to create knowledge content that can be either formal or informal in nature, in a rapid, real-time manner. We will call this Rapid Knowledge Construction (RKC). This paper describes the concepts underpinning our approach to RKC, and provides a case study of the approach in an industry context. The Compendium approach, which has been applied in projects in both industry and academic settings, facilitates the rapid creation of the content of a KM repository, by combining collaborative hypermedia, group facilitation techniques, and an analytical methodology rooted in knowledge acquisition and structured analysis. Compendium addresses key challenges for the successful introduction of KM technologies into work practice: (1) customization for different use contexts; (2) integration of formal and informal communication; (3) integration of both prescribed and ad hoc representations; (4) validation and cross-referencing of the repository ‘on the fly’ at the point of entry; (5) conversion of organizational documents/emails into a hypertext database, and (6) conversion of hypertext databases into organizational document formats. Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.