Knowledge management

Introduction to Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management is a vital capability for any organisation that wishes to be successful in today’s knowledge economy. But, aren’t you just a tiny bit confused with what Knowledge Management really means? So, here’s a brief overview.

What is Knowledge Management?

Just as television is more than radio with pictures, Knowledge Management is much more than computers and databases; staff training and customer care. It’s a philosophy of how things should be done. It’s an attitude towards business. Most knowledge management initiatives have failed because they have been thought of as ‘bolt on’ processes to an existing business system. Most importantly, it is humans that have knowledge, not computers – so knowledge management is a people issue. And that has cultural implications.

Your Guide to Knowledge Management:

Companies need to create a competitive edge. This means they have to be innovative and creative in their market place, either by making terrific products/services, or by having such efficient processes that they can make their products/services cheaper than anyone else.

People and processes are the key source of this competitive edge. However, an organisation needs to find ways to build this competitive edge into the fabric of its being; developing core competencies through organisational learning.

Innovation and creativity are human activities.

Step 1—Knowledge is created. Knowledge creation depends on nurturing people with knowledge: either individually or in teams or in communities of practice.

Step 2—Knowledge that has been created has to be captured. Here the challenge is capturing tacit knowledge as well as explicit knowledge.

Step 3—knowledge is codified or analysed: that is, structured. Here decisions about value are made. It’s no use managing knowledge that’s past its use-by date.

Step 4—Classification: similar types of knowledge are linked and catalogues are created, databases hooked in, and knowledge made explicit.

Step 5—Communication: Knowledge is made accessible to the organization. (Communication is also a part of Organisational Learning; core competence development and communities of practice)

Step 6—Capitalization, where knowledge is re-used. This is the point at which an organisation can ‘realise’ its intellectual capital.

Different Perspectives on Knowledge Management

People have different perspectives on knowledge management, depending on their role in an organisation.

  1. There are people concerned with the human processes of creating knowledge and capitalizing on (re-using) existing knowledge. This is where "people factors" are most important. Trust, sharing and learning.
  2. Others take an information perspective: IS/IT and information / library scientists. This is about the capture, storage, retrieval, and dissemination of knowledge, in the right place, at the right time.
  3. Finance managers and accountants work on valuing the ‘intellectual capital’ of a firm, calculating the worth of intangible assets and the return on investments made, e.g. the impact of staff training. Intellectual Capital is generally regarded as the difference between the organization’s book price (how accountants value the organization) and its market value (how the market values the organization).
  4. Chief Knowledge Officers have to make strategic decisions about investments in their business systems, technology, and training, to ensure that organisational learning takes place, along with the development of core competencies.

Different technologies are involved to help make all this happen—information modelling and mapping tools; relational databases and indexes; intranets and groupware. Many IT companies have repackaged their software under the banner of ‘knowledge management’. The ‘new’ concept of Customer Relationship Management is a hot topic just because the technology now exists to track customers in a way that was only dreamed of before. However, knowledge management is not just about technology and processes—it’s about people! Here, Culture has a very important part to play; especially cross cultural issues.

Cross-Cultural Issues Affecting Knowledge Management

We say that culture is the ‘Heartware of the Soul’. It’s the attitudes people have, and the way in which they respond to stimuli in their lives. Often, these are so ingrained in us that we do not realise that they are actually conditioned responses we have learned. People all over the world are different from us. Therefore, the way we learn and the way we share our learning or knowledge can be very different from people from another culture. Nowadays, organisations need to be very sensitive to cross cultural issues to ensure that knowledge is lost by people just walking out of the door.

What’s new about Knowledge Management isn’t the knowledge—it’s the management!

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Contact us

enquiries: 0845 1659240 (+44 (0)845 1659240)
alternative: 07768 696254 (+44 (0)7768 696254)

email:   blog: PKPWordsmith