Knowledge Management Defined
In the last ten years, we have all become acutely aware that central to any successful organization is managing all of the wisdom and know-how that exists. We spend an inordinate amount on educating our workforce and training them only to see them disappear out of the door for new opportunities, and with it all of that know-how (often not collated and stored for others to use).
In addition, the workplace has changed dramatically with the onset of digitally available streamed media, online books, research and academic insight. We are also increasingly aware of blogging, social networking, twitter and all of the other information and relationship management systems available to us. The internet is revolutionising and creating a more social, collectivist global attitude rather than individualist.
Recently I purchased a very interesting book
“Groundswell – winning in a World transformed by social technologies. Right now, your customers are writing about your products on blogs and recutting your commercials on You Tube. They are defining you on Wilkpedia and ganging up on you on social networking sites like Facebook.”
What I learnt from reading this book was that big corporates, the likes of Dell and Procter & Gamble (and this can also impact on Public Organisations), recognise just how powerful this media is, both positively by reaching so many people and negatively by what people say about you.
However these two companies alone have seen a 25%-35% growth in their profits by not seeing the technology as dangerous, but grabbing it and capitalising on the literally millions of people who interact with social networks on a daily basis.
The important thing is that I want to talk about Knowledge Management but not before I have spoken about the technology. Unfortunately the technology has come before the knowledge depository and often in companies this depository is fragmented and not linked in a way that it can dramatically improve the business.
In business, we are all aware of how important knowledge and education are. The very basis of business delivery is evidenced and the average company is full of know-how, research and libraries and is one of the largest depositories and a wealth of knowledge. Yet it has been very slow to capitalise on the opportunities the new technologies present.
Globally, to a degree, the cart has been put before the horse and when you ask someone what Knowledge Management means to them they often refer you to the corporate database of publications and the computerised system; this is NOT Knowledge Management.
Knowledge Management is exactly that, managing knowledge throughout an organisation in a way that positively impacts on others; staff and the business.
Talent Management and Resourcing are people centred processes. Knowledge Management is strategic and about intellectual capital.
Knowledge Management (KM) is a field which originally developed in the mid to late 90s. Often it is interpreted in different ways by managers and organisations trying to understand its value and relevance for them in improving their organizational performance and effectiveness.
Our Understanding of Knowledge is that it includes individual and social human capital, in addition to structural capital. Although knowledge can be explicit, as captured for example in patents, documented procedures and product descriptions, much knowledge and wisdom remains in the heads of our knowledge workers as tacit knowledge and experience which involves the individual and a collective understanding gained from their experience. If those workers leave the organisation much knowledge and wisdom simply walks out the door.
Our Practice therefore should define KM as an ongoing strategic program of knowledge and wisdom based processes and enriched practices for achieving organisational objectives through the creation, acquisition, sharing and utilisation of knowledge wisdom and the cultural and technical systems that support such processes. Successful KM programs and practices should therefore address issues related to human capital development, working culture and trust, leadership and collaboration readiness, in addition to the use of any technology supporting the knowledge processes of the workforce.
Knowledge Flow describes the transfer of knowledge between individuals and different groups which may take place by both explicit and tacit knowledge transfer. Knowledge flow may for example take place through sharing a useful document or report with another group, participation in a community of practice, or simply through a conversation over coffee at the morning break.
Knowledge Assessment approaches can be applied to the organization to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of current KM practices, knowledge resources and flows, to identify prioritised areas for performance improvement, eg. that would impact the company scorecard, and to monitor the outcomes in areas where interventions are subsequently introduced.
Knowledge Management Systems involve the cross-disciplinary, enterprise-wide management (creation, storing, disseminating, etc.) of knowledge processes catalysed by wisdom, aligned with strategic objectives to support and improve performance and productivity.
Knowledge Management Systems are the starting point in which other structures, assessment of knowledge; competence management and talent and wisdom management form a base component in performance improvement both personally and organisationally. The starting point should therefore begin with Knowledge Management in the context of forming a Human Capital Strategy from which other important elements and activities could flow.
Social Networks are structures made of nodes (which are generally individuals or organisations) that are tied by one or more specific types of interdependency, such as values, visions, ideas, financial exchange, friendship, kinship, dislikes, conflict or trade.
Social Network Analysis views social relationships in terms of nodes and ties. Nodes are the individual actors within the networks and ties are the relationships between the actors. The resulting graph-based structures are often very complex. There can be many kinds of ties between the nodes. Research in a number of academic fields has shown that social networks operate on many levels from families up to the level of nations, and play a critical role in determining the way problems are solved, organizations are run and the degree to which individuals succeed in achieving their goals.
In its Simplest Form a Social Network is a Map of all of the relevant ties between the nodes being studied. The network can also be used to determine the social capital of individual actors. These concepts are often displayed in a social network diagram, where nodes are the points and ties are the lines.
The Strategic Question for Your Human Resources Director
How do we differentiate and move thinking from a knowledge reservoir (as in document management) which is the classic misrepresentation of a knowledge management system towards new ways of managing knowledge within organisations and capitalizing on a largely untapped reservoir of WISDOM.
You will be surprised how many organisations sight the Training, Educational, Leadership, Management and Data spend, with little insight into Wisdom and Thinking (if you have one leader who uses the term Wisdom and Understands it, hold onto them).
Jasper Global Corporation