Managing a Business/MS-23 QUESTIONS
Please send the following questions answers as soon as early
1. How do you distinguish between Information and Knowledge? Explain through the roles of a Knowledge Manager as to how do they help leveraging professional expertise in an organizational setup. Explain with relevant organizational examples you are familiar with. Describe the organization you are referring to.
2. What are the objectives, psychological bases, and important consideration in designing reward system of an organization? Critically evaluate these with an organizational example of reward system you are familiar with or known to you. Give brief and relevant details of the organization you are referring to.
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3. How do you distinguish between Information and Knowledge? Explain through the roles of a Knowledge Manager as to how do they help leveraging professional expertise in an organizational setup. Explain with relevant organizational examples you are familiar with. Describe the organization you are referring to.
Defining Knowledge, Information, Data
What Is information
Information is that which informs, i.e. that from which data can be derived. Information is conveyed either as the content of a message or through direct or indirect observation of some thing. That which is perceived can be construed as a message in its own right, and in that sense, information is always conveyed as the content of a message. Information can be encoded into various forms for transmission and interpretation. For example, information may be encoded into signs, and transmitted via signals.
In Thermodynamics, information is any kind of event that affects the state of a dynamic system that can interpret the information.
Information resolves uncertainty. The uncertainty of an event is measured by its probability of occurrence and is inversely proportional to that. The more uncertain an event, the more information is required to resolve uncertainty of that event. The bit is a typical unit of information, but other units such as the nat may be used. Example: information in one "fair" coin ﬂip: log2(2/1) = 1 bit, and in two fair coin flips is log2(4/1) = 2 bits.
The concept that information is the message has different meanings in different contexts. Thus the concept of information becomes closely related to notions of constraint, communication, control, data, form, instruction, knowledge, meaning, understanding, mental stimuli, pattern, perception, representation, and entropy.
What Is knowledge
Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness or understanding of someone or something, such as facts, information, descriptions, or skills, which is acquired through experience or education by perceiving, discovering, or learning. Knowledge can refer to a theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. It can be implicit (as with practical skill or expertise) or explicit (as with the theoretical understanding of a subject); it can be more or less formal or systematic. In philosophy, the study of knowledge is called epistemology; the philosopher Plato famously defined knowledge as "justified true belief", though "well-justified true belief" is more complete as it accounts for the Gettier problems. However, several definitions of knowledge and theories to explain it exist.
Knowledge acquisition involves complex cognitive processes: perception, communication, and reasoning; while knowledge is also said to be related to the capacity of acknowledgment in human beings.
There are many definitions of knowledge. A dictionary definition is “the facts, feelings or experiences known by a person or group of people” Knowledge is derived from information but it is richer and more meaningful than information. It includes familiarity, awareness and understanding gained through experience or study, and results from making comparisons, identifying consequences, and making connections. Some experts include wisdom and insight in their definitions of knowledge. In organisational terms, knowledge is generally thought of as being “know how”, “applied information”, “information with judgement” or “the capacity for effective action”.
An individual educator’s knowledge is made up of the understandings that inform his or her practice, helping the educator to solve problems and make decisions. As it is accumulated, this professional knowledge becomes part of his or her “knowledge base” 1 for practice.
Knowledge is not static: it grows and evolves as those who create and use it sift through new information to identify what is useful.
Information becomes knowledge when it is shaped, organised and embedded in some context that has a purpose, that leads one to understand something about the world
This need to see knowledge as a resource that people develop in order to use it
knowledge includes the following components: 2
• content knowledge: knowledge of the facts, concepts, theories, structures, practices, and beliefs about subjects, disciplines, or domains of learning
• pedagogical knowledge: knowledge of the concepts, theories, and research concerning effective learning, learners, and the goals and processes of education
• pedagogical content knowledge : the interconnections between pedagogical knowledge and content knowledge (educators use this knowledge to make decisions about how to structure learning experiences, making knowledge accessible for specific groups of learners in ways that help develop deep understanding)
• knowledge of learners: knowledge of learners as individuals, including the diverse and complex ways they use their knowledge, beliefs, personal theories, and experiences to make sense of new knowledge
• knowledge of self: knowledge of the cognitive, social, and affective factors that influence the ways in which they themselves teach and learn
• knowledge of context: knowledge of the ways in which the physical and social context may shape the potential for learning.
This is not an exhaustive list and, in practice, the components are interwoven. Together, they make up the ingrained, tacit knowledge that educators draw on to make spontaneous decisions about events as they happen . The ability to make such judgments, often in a split second, requires deep understanding and means that educators also need to know:
• why something is important
• what to do
• how to do it
• when to do it.
Effective teaching is complex.
Effective teaching is much more than a set of prescribed behaviours; it is an activity that integrates a teacher’s existing cognitive structures (knowledge, beliefs and attitudes) and every aspect of the situation in which they practice.
Provider pedagogical content knowledge: The knowledge and skills that providers of teacher education need if they are to assist teachers to make a difference to students. This includes knowledge of the pedagogical changes teachers need to make in order to improve their practice, as well as knowledge of how to make the content meaningful to teachers and manageable within the context of teaching practice.
• 1 The term “knowledge base” can also refer to the shared body of knowledge from which all members of a profession can draw. These materials use the term to refer to both individual and shared professional knowledge.
• 2These components are more commonly used to describe the core knowledge needed to support effective teaching. Although the body of knowledge is different, the components themselves are equally applicable to ISTE knowledge.
Before one can begin to talk about knowledge management (KM), one must start by clearly defining the meaning of the word "knowledge". It is important to understand what constitutes knowledge and what falls under the category of information or data. Unfortunately, this is a more difficult task than may be apparent at first. Within everyday language, within specific fields, and even within the same disciplines, the word "knowledge" often takes on a variety of meanings.
Perspectives on Knowledge, Information, Data
In everyday language we use knowledge all the time. Sometimes we mean know-how, while other times we are talking about wisdom. On many occasions we even use it to refer to information. Part of the difficulty of defining knowledge arises from its relationship to two other concepts, namely data and information. These two terms are often regarded as lower denominations of knowledge, but the exact relationship varies greatly from one example to another.
Within more technologically oriented disciplines- particularly involving information systems- knowledge is often treated very similarly to information. It is seen as something one can codify and transmit, and where IT plays a pivotal role in knowledge sharing. For instance, the encyclopedia at fact-archive.com defines it as: "information that has a purpose or use."
This kind of simplistic view of knowledge was particularly widespread during the 90s when information technology became increasingly more common. However even today, some KM systems are little more than information management systems using knowledge as a virtual synonym for information.
To illustrate, Theirauf (1999) defines the three components as follows: data is the lowest point, an unstructured collection of facts and figures; information is the next level, and it is regarded as structured data; finally knowledge is defined as "information about information".
However, increasingly one sees definitions that treat knowledge as a more complex and personal concept that incorporate more than just information. The Longman online dictionary has one definition that begins to approach the way that knowledge is usually regarded within KM. It states "the information, skills, and understanding that you have gained through learning or experience." Although still closely associated with information, concepts like skills, understanding, and experience begin to surface.
Defining Data, Information, and Knowledge
Below, I have included the definitions that will be used throughout this site:
Data: Facts and figures which relay something specific, but which are not organized in any way and which provide no further information regarding patterns, context, etc. I will use the definition for data presented by Thierauf (1999): "unstructured facts and figures that have the least impact on the typical manager."
Information: For data to become information, it must be contextualized, categorized, calculated and condensed (Davenport & Prusak 2000). Information thus paints a bigger picture; it is data with relevance and purpose (Bali et al 2009). It may convey a trend in the environment, or perhaps indicate a pattern of sales for a given period of time. Essentially information is found "in answers to questions that begin with such words as who, what, where, when, and how many" (Ackoff 1999).
IT is usually invaluable in the capacity of turning data into information, particularly in larger firms that generate large amounts of data across multiple departments and functions. The human brain is mainly needed to assist in contextualization.
Knowledge: Knowledge is closely linked to doing and implies know-how and understanding. The knowledge possessed by each individual is a product of his experience, and encompasses the norms by which he evaluates new inputs from his surroundings (Davenport & Prusak 2000). I will use the definition presented by Gamble and Blackwell (2001), based closely on a previous definition by Davenport & Prusak:
"Knowledge is a fluid mix of framed experience, values, contextual information, expert insight, and grounded intuition that provides an environment and framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information. It originates and is applied in the mind of the knowers. In organizations it often becomes embedded not only in documents or repositories, but also in organizational routines, practices and norms."
In order for KM to succeed, one needs a deep understanding of what constitutes knowledge. Now that we have set clear boundaries between knowledge, information, and data, it is possible to go one step further and look at the forms in which knowledge exists and the different ways that it can be accessed, shared, and combined. I will examine this in the section titled "The Different Kinds of Knowledge".
KM is about making the right knowledge available to the right people. It is about making sure that an organization can learn, and that it will be able to retrieve and use its knowledge assets in current applications as they are needed. In the words of Peter Drucker it is "the coordination and exploitation of organizational knowledge resources, in order to create benefit and competitive advantage" (Drucker 1999).
Where the disagreement sometimes occurs is in conjunction with the creation of new knowledge. Wellman (2009) limits the scope of KM to lessons learned and the techniques employed for the management of what is already known. He argues that knowledge creation is often perceived as a separate discipline and generally falls under innovation management.
Bukowitz and Williams (1999) link KM directly to tactical and strategic requirements. Its focus is on the use and enhancement of knowledge based assets to enable the firm to respond to these issues. According to this view, the answer to the question "what is knowledge management" would be significantly broader.
A similarly broad definition is presented by Davenport & Prusak (2000), which states that KM "is managing the corporation's knowledge through a systematically and organizationally specified process for acquiring, organizing, sustaining, applying, sharing and renewing both the tacit and explicit knowledge of employees to enhance organizational performance and create value."
Knowledge management consists of the initiatives and systems that sustain and support the storage, dissemination, assessment, application, refinement, and creation of relevant knowledge.
This definition of knowledge management is adequate, but it relies on an understanding of the word "relevant". In this case it implies a strong tie to organizational goals and strategy, and it refers to knowledge that is considered useful for some purpose.
One could also create a more specific knowledge management definition:
Knowledge management consists of the initiatives and systems that sustain and support the storage, dissemination, assessment, application, refinement, and creation of relevant knowledge.
It involves the understanding of: where and in what forms knowledge exists; how to make the right knowledge available to the right people; what the organization needs to know; how to best generate or acquire new relevant knowledge; how to promote a culture conducive to learning, sharing, and knowledge creation; how to manage all of these factors so as to enhance performance in light of the organization's strategic goals and short term opportunities and threats.
Knowledge management must therefore create/provide the right tools, people, knowledge, structures (teams, etc.), culture, etc. so as to enhance learning; it must understand the value and applications of the new knowledge created; it must store this knowledge and make it readily available for the right people at the right time; and it must continuously assess, apply, refine, and remove organizational knowledge in conjunction with concrete long and short term factors.
From this knowledge management definition we can see that it depends upon the management of the organization's knowledge creation and conversion mechanisms; organizational memory and retrieval facilities; organizational learning; and organizational culture. These concepts will be explored in more detail in the following sections.
Why is knowledge management useful?
I have been asked to write this piece by someone who was not entirely familiar with the knowledge management (KM) discipline. Looking back at the work I presented on this site, I can see how a beginner, and particularly a manager new to the subject, might not easily understand why knowledge management is useful for their particular situation.
I will keep this concise and to the point. Knowledge management is responsible for understanding:
• What your organization knows.
• Where this knowledge is located, e.g. in the mind of a specific expert, a specific department, in old files, with a specific team, etc.
• In what form this knowledge is stored e.g. the minds of experts, on paper, etc.
• How to best transfer this knowledge to relevant people, so as to be able to take advantage of it or to ensure that it is not lost. E.g. setting up a mentoring relationship between experienced experts and new employees, implementing a document management system to provide access to key explicit knowledge.
• The need to methodically assess the organization's actual know-how vs the organization's needs and to act accordingly, e.g. by hiring or firing, by promoting specific in-house knowledge creation, etc.
So, why is knowledge management useful? It is useful because it places a focus on knowledge as an actual asset, rather than as something intangible. In so doing, it enables the firm to better protect and exploit what it knows, and to improve and focus its knowledge development efforts to match its needs. In other words:
• It helps firms learn from past mistakes and successes.
• It better exploits existing knowledge assets by re-deploying them in areas where the firm stands to gain something, e.g. using knowledge from one department to improve or create a product in another department, modifying knowledge from a past process to create a new solution, etc.
• It promotes a long term focus on developing the right competencies and skills and removing obsolete knowledge.
• It enhances the firm's ability to innovate.
• It enhances the firm's ability to protect its key knowledge and competencies from being lost or copied.
Unfortunately, KM is an area in which companies are often reluctant to invest because it can be expensive to implement properly, and it is extremely difficult to determine a specific ROI. Moreover KM is a concept the definition of which is not universally accepted, and for example within IT one often sees a much shallower, information-oriented approach. Particularly in the early days, this has led to many "KM" failures and these have tarnished the reputation of the subject as a whole. Sadly, even today, probably about one in three blogs that I read on this subject have absolutely nothing to do with the KM that I was taught back in business school. I will discuss this latter issue in greater detail in the future.
Introducing Organizational Knowledge
In an earlier section we identified the three different types of knowledge that can exist in an organization. Now I will take a closer look at the scope organizational knowledge and its significance to the knowledge management (KM) process.
Organizational Knowledge Resources
Business knowledge can exist on several different levels:
Individual: Personal, often tacit knowledge/know-how of some sort. It can also be explicit, but it must be individual in nature, e.g. a private notebook.
Groups/community: Knowledge held in groups but not shared with the rest of the organization. Companies usually consist of communities (most often informally created) which are linked together by common practice. These communities of practice (Lave & Wenger 1991) may share common values, language, procedures, know-how, etc. They are a source of learning and a repository for tacit, explicit, and embedded knowledge.
Structural: Embedded knowledge found in processes, culture, etc. This may be understood by many or very few members of the organization. E.g. the knowledge embedded in the routines used by the army may not be known by the soldiers who follow these routines. At times, structural knowledge may be the remnant of past, otherwise long forgotten lessons, where the knowledge of this lesson exists exclusively in the process itself.
Organizational: The definition of organizational knowledge is yet another concept that has very little consensus within literature. Variations include the extent to which the knowledge is spread within the organization, as well as the actual make-up of this knowledge. Hatch (2010) defines it as: "When group knowledge from several subunits or groups is combined and used to create new knowledge, the resulting tacit and explicit knowledge can be called organizational knowledge." Others present a broader perspective: "individual knowledge, shared knowledge, and objectified knowledge are different aspects or views of organizational knowledge" (Ekinge & Lennartsson 2000). As always, texts emphasizing an IT based outlook once again offer shallower, information-based definitions, e.g. Virvou & Nakamura 2008, "Information internalized by means of research, study or experience that has value to the organization".
For the purpose of this site I will adopt a broad, knowledge-based perspective. Organizational knowledge is therefore defined as: all the knowledge resources within an organization that can be realistically tapped by that organization. It can therefore reside in individuals and groups, or exist at the organizational level.
Extra-organizational: Defined here as: Knowledge resources existing outside the organization which could be used to enhance the performance of the organization. They include explicit elements like publications, as well as tacit elements found in communities of practice that span beyond the organization's borders.
Implications for KM
In order to enhance organisational knowledge, KM must therefore be involved across the entire knowledge spectrum. It must help knowledge development at all levels and facilitate & promote its diffusion to individuals, groups, and/or across the entire firm, in accordance with the organization's requirements. KM must manage organizational knowledge storage and retrieval capabilities, and create an environment conducive to learning and knowledge sharing. Similarly it must be involved in tapping external sources of knowledge whenever these are necessary for the development of the organizational knowledge resources.
To a large degree, KM is therefore dependent on the understanding and management of organizational learning, organizational memory, knowledge sharing, knowledge creation, and organizational culture.
Introducing Organizational Learning
What is Organizational Learning
Learning is the way we create new knowledge and improve ourselves. Although there is ample debate regarding the mechanisms and scope of learning, in its simplest form this is no different for organizations. Botha et al. describe the organizational learning process as follows:
As one can see organizational learning is based on applying knowledge for a purpose and learning from the process and from the outcome. Brown and Duguid (1991) describe organisational learning as "the bridge between working and innovating." This once again links learning to action, but it also implies useful improvement.
The implications to knowledge management are three-fold:
• One must understand how to create the ideal organizational learning environment
• One must be aware of how and why something has been learned.
• One must try to ensure that the learning that takes place is useful to the organization
Organizational Learning Pitfalls
Senge (1990) argues that often it is failure that provides the richest learning experience, which is something that organizations need to understand and use more effectively. He criticizes the way we reward success and look down upon failure as something that can be detrimental to the long term health of the organization. Levitt and March (1996) further argue that success is ambiguous and depends on how it is interpreted. This interpretation may not only vary significantly between different groups within the organization, but may change over time as success indicators and levels of aspiration change.
Levitt and March (1996) also discuss superstitious learning. This occurs when positive or negative results are associated with the wrong actions. Success and failure can both generate superstitious learning. If a firm does well, the routines that they followed are linked to this success and are subsequently reinforced. The opposite is true for failure. In such cases, the organization thinks that it has learned when in fact it has not. Real organizational learning would have resulted from the examination of the information generated from their actions rather than from relatively arbitrary success or failure criteria.
Different Approaches to Organizational Learning
Generally speaking, there are two approaches to organisational learning. The first view looks at the firm as a whole and examines learning from a cognitive perspective. In a way, the firm is treated like a large brain composed of the individual members of the organization. The second view looks at learning as community based, where the firm's practitioners create knowledge in their own networks called communities of practice (Lave & Wenger 1991).
These views should be seen as complementary rather than contradictory. The next two sub-sections will examine organizational learning theory from these two perspectives.
The Significance of Organizational Culture
In this article I will look at organizational culture and its impact on KM processes. The other article in this section examines leadership and the learning organization, as outlined by Peter Senge.
What is Organizational Culture?
The social elements of knowledge that have been underlined in previous sections are at least partially dependent on organizational and community culture. Organizational culture determines values and beliefs which are an integral part of what one chooses to see and absorb (Davenport & Prusak 2000). It includes a shared perception of reality, regarding how things are and how things should be. Furthermore, community and group culture determine the willingness and conditions for knowledge sharing with other members of the organization. Knowledge, and knowledge sharing, are thus inseparable from organisational culture.
Wellman (2009) essentially describes culture as "the way it is around here." To illustrate the perseverance of organizational culture he presents an interesting allegory which I will summarize below:
Put five apes in a cage. Then dangle a banana from the ceiling of that cage and place a ladder under it. Whenever an ape attempts to climb the ladder to reach the banana, spray all of them with cold water. After a few times, the apes will associate climbing the ladder with being sprayed with cold water. One can now turn off the cold water.
Then, replace one of the original apes with a new one. This new ape will undoubtedly try to get to the banana, but if he tries he will be attacked by the others. He will have no idea why this is so, but will soon learn that he must not climb the ladder. Next replace yet another ape. When he approaches the ladder all the apes will attack him. One of these apes has no idea why he may not climb the ladder, but he participates in the punishment enthusiastically. Soon the new ape will also learn not to climb the ladder.
In this way, one can continue until all the original apes are replaced. At this stage, none of them know why they must not climb the ladder, but none will do so, and all will attack anyone that tries. All of this because "that's the way it has always been around here."
Strange as it may seem, this kind of cultural learning can be identified time and again in real world organizations. Wellman points out that at times this can be beneficial and detrimental. Hard wiring a reaction can push the organization into action quickly against a perceived threat. The problem is that this "instinctive response may be inappropriate for the current environment but may be triggered nonetheless" (Wellman 2009).
All in all, organizational culture can be split into levels (Schein 1992):
• Artifacts: These represent the visible elements such as processes, structures, goals, climate, dress codes, furniture, etc. An outsider can see them but may not understand why things are the way things are.
• Espoused values: The values espoused by the leaders. They most often are grounded in shared assumptions (see below) of how the company should be run. If there is a significant mismatch between the leadership espoused values and this perception, the organization may be in trouble.
• Assumptions: These are the actual values of the culture. They refer to the (often tacit) views of the world itself (e.g. human nature). Again, these assumptions should need to correlate at least to a certain degree to the espoused leadership values for the organization to function smoothly.
Organizational Culture and Knowledge Sharing
The importance of a knowledge sharing culture as an enabler for the transfer and creation of knowledge is directly addressed by such authors as Bukowitz & Williams (1999), Davenport and Prusak (2000), and Gamble and Blackwell (2001). In order to make knowledge management initiatives work in practice, the employees within the firm must be willing to share their knowledge with others. Leaders must understand the culture both on an organisational and community level. While culture often exists on an organizational level, each community may have its own norms, perspectives, and collective understandings. Their willingness to share and to seek knowledge will be influenced by these collective views.
One major influence to a culture's knowledge sharing willingness is the issue of reciprocity (Davenport & Prusak 2000). This refers to the individual's need to perceive a current or future return on the knowledge he chooses to share. This could be in the form of direct compensation of some kind; it could be something intangible like enhancing the individual's reputation; but it can also be the knowledge that the favor will be returned the next time he requires assistance.
Finally, internal competition is yet another aspect of organizational culture that may interfere with the knowledge sharing and knowledge creation process.
The Problems with Managing Organizational Culture
The problems with managing culture can be summed up as follows:
• Culture reaffirms itself by rejecting misfits and promoting those that adhere to the norms of the organization (Gamble & Blackwell 2001).
• Culture often consists of learned responses that are hard wired into the organization. The actual events that sparked this "lesson" may be long forgotten (Wellman 2009). This is very similar to the concept of organizational learning according to Levitt and March (1996) which indicates that organizations are far more likely to remember interpretations of events rather than the event itself.
• Culture contains falsehoods. Past lessons are applied often without understanding them and their reasons for being.
For more on how to manage organizational culture, please see the subsection on organizational culture change.
Building Knowledge Management Frameworks and Models
At this stage we have had a look at the components and definitions that related to knowledge management (KM). This section deals with knowledge management frameworks and models. The old saying that a picture paints a thousand words is very much applicable in this case. A good model can integrate various elements and show relationships in a way that is much harder to do in writing.
But first, what are the components of a knowledge management framework? At the most basic level, KM consists of the following steps:
• Identification of needs
• Identification of knowledge resources
• Acquisition, creation, or elimination of knowledge related resources/processes/environments
• Retrieval, application and sharing of knowledge
• Storage of knowledge
It is important to note that none of these processes are independent and all of them are affected by countless factors. This is why knowledge management frameworks are typically very different and can be presented in a wide variety of ways.
For instance, some models are sequential (as above), and seek to provide a better overview at the expense of "realism". Other models display overlapping processes in an attempt to simulate what actually occurs inside an organization. The problem with the latter is that they are often hard to grasp and can only convey limited information so as not to become incomprehensible. In the following section I will provide examples of both.
Since KM is closely related or dependant on other disciplines (such as strategy, information management, project management, etc.) and it is enabled by a wide range of processes and systems, a model can become very complex indeed.
This is why there is no such thing as an integrated and fully detailed knowledge management framework, i.e. one that captures all relevant aspects with appropriate detail. Each model must choose its focus and origin, as well as its limitations.
There are essentially three questions that a knowledge management framework may choose to answer:
"What/how" refers to the actual processes of knowledge management.
"Why" refers to an indication of the reasons behind using one method or the other.
"When" refers to the timing for using one method or another, and is very closely related to "why".
The latter two questions are usually tackled in more strategic oriented models that take a broader perspective. What/how is usually dealt with in process oriented models that focus on an understanding of the tools available to the manager. These kinds of models are generally more common particularly since the role of knowledge management can be defined far more narrowly than I have chosen to do on this site.
In the following section I will examine a few solid KM models dealing with all the aspects I have discussed above. However, before I conclude, I will present a very useful framework outlined by Botha et al (2008) titled the "knowledge management broad categories".
You don't know Knowledge Discovery
Explore, Research, Create
You know Knowledge Repository
(Knowledge Base) Knowledge Sharing and Transfer
Knowledge you have Knowledge you don't have
Here, one can see the role of knowledge management from a broad perspective (very similar to the one adopted on this site), i.e. which includes more than just knowledge sharing/access/etc, but also new knowledge creation. These categories provide a solid overview of the components of any knowledge management framework focusing on the what/how question.
Knowledge Management Processes
This section will deal with the actual knowledge management processes. So far, I have presented an introduction to knowledge management as well as several frameworks. Now it is time to talk about the different processes and initiatives.
This section, as well as the subsequent one on knowledge management strategy, will be structured according to the layout of the integrated knowledge management model presented earlier.
Under the initiative referred to as "act", the integrated model outlines a series of knowledge management processes. They will be used as headings for the subsections presented here, and can be accessed either through the menu on the left or via the links below:
• Knowledge Discovery & Detection
• Knowledge Organization & Assessment
• Knowledge Sharing
• Knowledge Reuse
• Knowledge Creation
• Knowledge Acquisition
These form the backbone of knowledge management processes as they outline all aspects involved in the actual management of knowledge.
At the end of the section on knowledge management strategy, a subsection titled knowledge management best practices will summarize all the aspects discussed thus far
Knowledge Management Strategy
While the knowledge management processes section dealt with the general ways knowledge can be managed, this section tackles long-term knowledge management strategy. Strategic investments represent the company’s choices/options so as to enable and enhance the processes outlined earlier (e.g. knowledge sharing) and to offer help define which knowledge is relevant (i.e. in line with strategic objectives) and which is not.
This section is based on the strategic part of the integrated knowledge management model, which includes:
• Knowledge management strategic initiatives:
• Invest: Support of existing structures, competencies, culture, external network, and knowledge management systems
• Invest: Implement changes to structures, competencies, culture, external network, and knowledge management systems
• Divest: Remove obsolete knowledge
Knowledge management is essentially about getting the right knowledge to the right person at the right time. This in itself may not seem so complex, but it implies a strong tie to corporate strategy, understanding of where and in what forms knowledge exists, creating processes that span organizational functions, and ensuring that initiatives are accepted and supported by organizational members. Knowledge management may also include new knowledge creation, or it may solely focus on knowledge sharing, storage, and refinement. For a more comprehensive discussion and definition, see my knowledge management definition.
It is important to remember that knowledge management is not about managing knowledge for knowledge's sake; the overall objective is to create value and to leverage, improve, and refine the firm's competences and knowledge assets to meet organizational goals and targets. Implementing knowledge management thus has several dimensions including:
• Organizational: The right processes, environments, culture, and systems.
• Managerial/Leadership:The right focus, strategy, implementation, etc.
• Cultural: The organizational culture, as well as national culture for multinational firms, influences the way people interact, the context within which knowledge is created, the resitance they will have towards certain changes, and ultimately the way they share (or the way they do not share) knowledge.
• Technological: The right systems, tools, and technologies - properly implemented.
• Political: The support to implement and sustain initiatives that involve virtually all organizational functions; that may be costly to implement (both from the perspective of time and money); and which often do not have a directly visible return on investment.
The Importance of Knowledge Management (KM) in Business
Starting from the late 90's, enterprises started to talk about "Knowledge Management (KM)" as they have figured out that without proper KM strategies, it will cause problem and inefficiency in the organization. For example, loss of important information when there is someone leaving the company or it takes a long time to retrieve certain piece of data from a large pile of files. Therefore, internal KM budgets increased by folds in recent years. It is expected that spending for KM products will reach $10 billion by 2004. (Greg Dyer, International Data Corp.)
Although many company aware of the importance of KM, they faced a big problem when they are implementing KM in their workplace: not all staffs are willing to share the knowledge or information they obtained. Therefore, motivation or incentive scheme becomes a hot topic in KM strategies. The following passage will talk about how to enhance the willingness for staff to share knowledge.
First of all, when we talk about incentive scheme, it is certain that monetary reward for the staff sharing useful and important knowledge or information will definitely be one of the best and most welcomed practice, especially in times of the economic downturn. This is because people will prefer keeping money in their pocket rather than any other forms of rewards. This universal principle will always work.
At the same time, the above reward can be transform into some other ways like granting extra holidays to the staff providing outstanding knowledge for the company. Or giving a free tour for the staff, if possible with his/her family members to some leisure places like Thailand, Hawaii, etc. These alternative forms of reward are having the same effect as money and they will be more welcomed by staff who do not want everything to be calculated in money.
However, not every staff in a company is solely looking for money. Some of them are seeking some other forms of rewards. Some of them may hope themselves to be well known by others within the organization. In other words, they want to be "famous". To deal with this type of staff we should located them out (Expert Locating) after they have shared information and let the company know who they are. With such kind of identity, these rich-in-knowledge staff will be willing to further share their ideas with others that will be the most beneficial to the corporation.
The above are some superficial suggestions for companies to promote knowledge sharing within the organization. However, when we want to look deeper into this area, we have to first think about why people are not willing to share their knowledge.
Statistics shown that most staffs claim they are willing to share their knowledge but do not have time to do so. (Harris Research Center) In order to solve this problem, some kind of workshops or seminars that allow staff to have time put down their work in hand, and listen to others' information while also telling others their own. This type of seminars must be leaded by some well-experienced convener who can lead the discussion among staff to a fruitful outcome.
This type of workshops is also having some other benefits. For example, some staff may be having excellent practice in dealing with some kind of job but they don't know how to tell others, or they even don't know their way is the best one. The convener in these functions will then be able to help them to speak out their way or let them understand they are the best performers
While you are promoting knowledge sharing in the company, commitment from the management level must be shown in order to encourage staff to join the discussion. The above suggestions (reward scheme, discussion seminars, etc.) can help achieving this. However, participation of the management themselves in the scheme and utilization of the suggestions is more important.
Without the participation of management themselves, staff will just consider the program to be just a show which is useless, then no one will be interested in sharing their ideas. And the most important is that the suggestion with excellent quality should be used as this can really enhance efficiency of the company, and let the staffs know they can really help the company while the company is considering them as valuable assets.
Also promoting a culture or atmosphere that sharing of knowledge is very important as peer pressure will also be the most influential force for people. However, this is not an easy task, as not all people are self-initiated to share their knowledge.
One way to assist the growth of this culture is creating a post of "Knowledge Manager/Officer" who is mainly responsible in managing the shared information from the staff, try to keep them in the best quality that they should be. His/her presence can encourage people to sound out their views as there is always someone scan through their words before it is announced. People will feel more secure as the chance of being rejected or laughed at by majority of colleagues in the company is minimized. At the same time, he/she can keep the standard of information to be shared at a high, or at least at an acceptable level.
There are also some minor points like using the term "Knowledge Management" directly in the company will be worse than using other terms like "Leveraging Know-how" as KM is a term that people not like very well. (Texaco, N.Y.) And using other terms can connect people in the business more easily.
To conclude, KM is definitely an important issue in management of any kind or any size of companies. We must note that once it is decided to implement this strategy, we have to carry it on and never give it up too easily. It may not pay, or the benefits cannot be noted in the early stages. However, it is for sure that it will finally let you gain more than you invest in future