Why Knowledge Management?
While most managers agree that managing
knowledge is important, few of
them can articulate what the value is or how to become a
teaching, or coaching organization.
The majority of companies have their knowledge embedded in people and
organizations. It is often intuitive,
tacit, rather than
explicit, and is rarely detailed enough to be especially valuable. Such
knowledge often gets lost when someone leaves the company.
"All too often,
knowledge exists with multiple points of view instead of the collective best
thinking. It is occasional but not integral to the business. And, most
important, it is available but not used very much."7
"Knowledge management" is different from
"information management". While the former targets collecting and
distributing knowledge - both explicit and
tacit throughout the organization, the latter deals mainly with
documented explicit knowledge or information - only.
Most companies create, have access to, and use
plenty of bits of knowledge, but neither efficiently, nor effectively.
The increased emphasis on knowledge management
is attributed to recent rapid developments in the following areas:
On a practical level:
Shift to the new
knowledge-based enterprises and information-intensive industries
Rapid advances in information technology.
On a theoretical level, increased emphasis on
knowledge in the strategic management
literature, in particular:
Popularity of the new
resource-based view of the company
Postmodern perspectives on organizations
Transfer of Best Practices
Transfer of best practices is one of the
biggest issues driving innovation, cost,
efficiency, and satisfaction in
most companies. Transferring the worst practices and practitioners is
equally important as individuals who make the same mistakes over and over
again are like a human version of a computer virus.7
Progroup is a US corporation that focuses on
workplace diversity. It not only has its own knowledge specialists who
build knowledge bases, but also has arranged with various corporations from
whom it obtains knowledge to supplement its own efforts.
One type of arrangement involves buying
specialized knowledge bases from other companies. This involves
negotiating formally with the intention of purchasing an
property right. Another arrangement involves the mutual sharing of
knowledge by like-minded companies. These less formal arrangements have
that has proved extremely helpful to both the concerned companies over the
long run. The arrangement has worked for both
partnering companies because each one has been as committed to the
success of the other as to itself. Thus the nature of the
mutual-trust relationship that exists between both the partners has been
important. Investing in a quality relationship takes time and effort but has
proved worth this time and effort for Progroup.8
Idea management systems and process can help
make innovation a discipline.
They can help make the hunt for new possibilities each and every
department's business, as well as involve broader and more enthusiastic
participation among managers and employees...
Tacit Knowledge as a Source
of Competitive Advantage
Tacit knowledge, or implicit knowledge, as opposed
to explicit knowledge, is far less tangible and is deeply embedded into an
organization's operating practices. It is often called 'organizational
culture'. "Tacit knowledge
includes relationships, norms, values, and standard operating procedures.
Because tacit knowledge is much harder to detail, copy, and distribute, it can
be a sustainable source of
What increasingly differentiates success and failure is how well you locate,
leverage, and blend available explicit knowledge with internally generated tacit
knowledge."3 Inaccessible from explicit expositions, tacit knowledge
is protected from competitors unless key individuals are hired away...
Ask Searching Questions
Don't ask one or two questions and then rush straight towards a solution.
With an incomplete understanding of the problem it is very easy to jump to
Ask open-ended questions that elicit a wide rage of answers:
Making an Internal Market in Knowledge
One source of competitive advantage
is to diffuse throughout your company the unique, proprietary knowledge
about customers, competitors, products, and techniques that resides in the
minds of your employees. But many efforts at knowledge management have
failed to deliver that advantage, because they haven't focused on the human
creation and broad exchange of knowledge within a company. Establishing
an internal knowledge market with its own unique approaches to
exchange, market facilitation, and competition can solve that problem and
boost productivity. It is less about investing in technology than about
encouraging authors to "sell" their valuable knowledge and other employees
to "buy" it within a market that ensures its quality.11
Real Value of Knowledge...
Implementing a KM
Program in Your Organization: 9 Steps...
Process of Knowledge Management...
The Starting Point:
The Dynamic Theory of
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