Monday, 13 February 2012

Knowledge Management: Building blocks and knotty problems

I went on a Knowledge Management course and seeing as everything I do is managing information and spreading the knowledge, I thought I'd put my notes down here. It's not arty or anything but I found it interesting.


Knowledge Management means different things in the context of each organisation and the definition has to be agreed at management level. But basically it’s about managing the intellectual assets of the firm/company which can take the form of documentation, expertise, communities, departments, conversations and collaborations – the effective sharing of creative knowledge.

For it to work properly people have to be engaged and given that people always know more than they say, it is challenge to get the information flowing around the organisation. We – collectively - have to create a knowledge environment that will take all the data and information and turn it into knowledge. This has little/nothing to do with technologies.

There has to be a conversation about what knowledge we need to manage.


Efficient knowledge sharing leads to a change within the organisation. Benefits include:

- New ideas and creativity
- Improves and accelerates learning
- Avoids reinventing wheels – or perhaps encourages a variation on a wheel
- Supports further change with in organisation
- Turns process knowhow into a valuable organisational asset
- Helps organisation and people to grow more network connections; better collaboration
- Underpins effective decision making – more quality information available.

When times are tough economically there can be more of a challenge to get information moving around the organisation. However hard times require even more sharing so that all opportunities can be grasped and turned into profit.

What Knowledge?

There are 3 knowledge elements;

- Explicit – the structured and documented facts; models; interpretations; best/good practice
- Implicit – processes; methods; structures; techniques
- Tacit – this is what KM is all about. This is the experience, expertise, behaviour, intuition that is going on in peoples’ heads.

The key point of KM is getting access to the tacit knowledge.

Things to Consider

- We need to have a clear understanding of what we’re trying to do and get a clear message across
- Are we already doing KM?
- Build on what currently exists.

Lots of things could be classed as KM but is taken for granted as simply good practice. For instance; lunchtime meetings, departmental meetings, social events, collective learning/discussion, writing articles, appraisals, mentoring, industry benchmarking.

Practical Steps

There has to be a KM diagnostic across the organisation, whether it is organisational strategy, processes and technology to judge where we are at. So we can:

- Align KM strategy with the vision of the organisation – nothing can happen without that.
- Outline the purpose of KM
- Outline the benefits of KM
- Keep asking why are we doing this
- Get everyone involved

If people are informed that they are already doing KM, eg., Investors in People assessments, events, presenting at lunchtime talks etc are all part of creating a knowledge environment, then they will be more open to new initiatives because they already reap the benefits.

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