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05 December 2005

Why all this fuss about KM now?

Knowledge Management is about how an organization makes use of its intellectual property. It is about leveraging the knowledge produced internally or acquired externally, to add value for competitive advantage.

BUT WHY ALL THIS FUSS NOW?

Organizations always produced knowledge and this knowledge must have been used to add value somehow => TRUE
However, knowledge was not managed explicitly, formally, systematically because, until the 90's, it didn’t really need to be in order to add value.
In the increasingly Flat World we live in - with weaker geographical and political borders - individual and organizational knowledge is the most rewarding asset to leverage.

Find below examples of key benefits of Knowledge-driven initiatives in an organization:

  • Stop “reinventing the wheel”.
    => Similar or different solutions are applied to identical problems by different teams throughout the organization, when one solution could be applied for all.
    What are needed are processes and tools to facilitate knowledge encoding and accessibility.
    It must be facilitated to find out what has been done and who has done it.
  • Induce a “Knowledge is power when it is shared” culture.
    What is needed is a top-management will and drive for a knowledge sharing culture, in which individuals, departments, teams, companies are encouraged, valued and rewarded for sharing their specific knowledge.
  • Effective replacement of experienced staff through knowledge acquisition and transfer.
    A fraction of the significant costs associated with staff turnover could be directed towards proactive knowledge transfer from senior staff to more junior ones. Training, Coaching, apprenticeship, documentation are only some of the methods that could be generalized.
  • A company-wide team spirit or the systematic involvement of all the relevant stakeholders in projects and activities, all sharing specific and valuable knowledge and experience.
    When knowledge gained somewhere doesn’t move elsewhere, that’s not a learning organization; that’s just a bunch of projects” (Jac Fitz-Enz, HR analyst, founder of the Saratoga Institute).
    What is first needed is for individuals and groups of people to be encouraged and valued for using their own knowledge and experience to constructively challenge the production of others. Furthermore, positive and negative feedback from all parties involved in projects and activities should be formally collected and made freely available to all for re-use (this relates to first and last examples as well).
  • Stop making the same mistakes twice (or many more times).
    The risk of repeating mistakes can be considerably reduced with the generalization of relatively simple processes and tools, all centred on the principle of proactive knowledge sharing. In other words, the reasons and impacts of a mistake along with what was done about it is to be systematically recorded in a database available for others to consult.


I found on Pera the Innovation Company's website (www.pera.com) this very good support for knowledge-driven stategies:


"Global Knowledge
A Knowledge Based Business...
The best businesses today recognised a long time ago that their use of knowledge would be key to making them successful and they did something about it!
These businesses:
Thrive on chaos and uncertainty because it confuses their competitors
Welcome globalisation because it gives them access to customers and capabilities that their competitors are yet to comprehend exist
Welcome reduced product lifecycles because they know they are agile enough to get in and out of these new business spaces at speeds others can only imagine
Can be sure that China is not a threat because they know that the value they create comes from the man and not the machine
But what did they do?
Divorced themselves of the corporate mindset and released the spirit of the individual
Developed their human capital first and then watched their financial capital multiply
Looked across the business and to the world at large for inspiration not just to their leader
Realised that they exist in an ecosystem, not linear world
And then what did they do with this self-empowered, self-motivated, self-aware and profit hungry bunch of individuals?
They fed them knowledge and they made them money……"

Peter-Anthony Glick
Leveraging Organizational Knowledge

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