Management Research Library
Knowledge Management - The People Factor
What Should Knowledge Management Accomplish?
The challenge of knowledge management is to determine what information within an organization qualifies as “valuable.” All information is not knowledge, and all knowledge is not valuable.
The key is to find worthwhile knowledge within a vast sea of information. Identifying knowledge assets requires that agencies identify the knowledge they currently have and the knowledge they will need to have for future Knowledge Management.
Knowledge Management provides the processes and structures to create, capture, analyze, and act on information. It highlights the conduits to knowledge, as well as the bottlenecks.
Knowledge Management: Maximizing Human Potential business processes.
They must ask themselves how new knowledge will impact organizational tasks and work processes, what needs to change, and how will this information keep the organization competitive.
This necessitates arriving at a common business language—one that avoids jargon and that both general managers and legislatures can understand.
Effective knowledge managers will find accessible ways to represent this knowledge to others. They also will be adept at re-fashioning knowledge for different users, applications, and contexts. Knowledge managers should be aware of the impact of radical change on employees.
A worker might be confronted with a new situation in which his or her past experience is insufficient—the situation is too complex or requires technical knowledge they lack.
This can make employees feel trapped, as it threatens their self-image and sense of worth. A good knowledge manager will find ways to ensure that accommodation to change is less threatening.
Knowledge managers must have a vision of how they want their learning organization to function. Such a vision must be given top-level commitment and high-priority communication.
It should spur and catalyze the imagination, encouraging workers to think about the future in improvisational and innovative ways.
good knowledge manager will unleash the creative potential in people, embrace new ideas, and apply technical know-how to develop new work processes that keep the organization competitive and future-focused.
Knowledge Management Is About People
What people know, and how their knowledge can support business and organizational objectives is the keystone of knowledge management.
It draws on human competency, intuition, ideas, and motivations.
It is not a technologybased concept. Although technology can support a Knowledge Management effort, it should not begin there.
Maximizing Human Potential
Knowledge Management is orderly and goal-directed.
Knowledge management is inextricably tied to the strategic objectives of the organization. It uses only the information that is the most meaningful, practical, and purposeful.
Knowledge Management is never fixed and unchanging. There is no such thing as an immutable law in Knowledge Management. Knowledge is constantly tested, updated, revised, and sometimes even “obsoleted” when it is no longer practicable. It is a fluid, ongoing process.
Knowledge Management is value-added. Knowledge management draws upon pooled expertise, relationships, and alliances. Leading organizations can further the two-way exchange of ideas by bringing in experts from the field to advise or educate managers on recent trends and developments. Forums, councils, and boards can be instrumental in creating common ground and organizational cohesiveness.
Knowledge Management is visionary. This vision of knowledge management is expressed in strategic business terms rather than technical terms, and in a manner that generates enthusiasm, buy-in, and motivates managers to work together toward reaching common goals.
Knowledge Management is complementary. Knowledge management can be integrated with other organizational initiatives such as Total Quality Management (TQM). It is important for knowledge managers to show interim successes concurrent with more protracted efforts such as multiyear systems development initiatives or “bigger picture” infrastructure projects, such as reengineering.
Knowledge and Information—Not the Same
There are basically two kinds of knowledge—explicit and tacit. Explicit knowledge is knowledge that can be measured, documented, and archived.
Expressed in language or captured in drawings, it is the kind of information found in databases, filing cabinets, and strategic plans.
Tacit (or implicit) knowledge on the other hand is human brain power—the information and know-how that lives inside people’s heads.
It is derived from intuition, perception, senses, physical experience, and more. These two types of knowledge should work collaboratively.
Information (the data a computer produces) does not generate much potential for strategic action. When it is combined with human interpretation and individual contexts and experiences, however, it can inform and drive organizational success.