Category Archives: Knowledge Management

Effective Knowledge Management: A Framework

In the business world, knowledge management (KM) emerged in the mid-1990’s as a key element of process improvement, value creation, and thus overall performance.

A definition of KM: Academics and practitioners alike have written a lot about KM, especially over the past two decades. Most start with defining knowledge itself, often discussing the difference between explicit and tacit knowledge or distinguishing between data, information, and knowledge. Others also present a typology of the means organizations use to create value through knowledge. Few characterizations of KM, however, avoid using the words “knowledge” and “management.” The following definition avoids that tautology and synthesizes common elements found throughout the field:

Knowledge management is a formal approach to acquiring, creating, codifying, storing, sharing and using contextualized information, expertise and other intellectual assets to support achieving an objective.

Together, the processes, activities, practices, organizational arrangements and values associated with this approach make up the KM strategy of an organization. Note that this definition requires … Read the rest

Effective Knowledge Management: Capabilities

This post continues our discussion of knowledge management (KM) by identifying what an organization has to excel at to manage knowledge effectively.

What is a Capability?: A capability is something one is good at or needs to be good at to achieve an objective. For organizations, they are the sum total of the skills and expertise of its people and how they put them to use. To provide an advantage over competitors, an organization’s capabilities need to be unique, or at least difficult to replicate. Thus capabilities are at once strategic for an organization yet derived from attributes of individuals.

Two Types of Capabilities: Knowledge capabilities fall into two categories: those that support current, day-to-day functions (operational capabilities) and those required to adapt to future needs (dynamic capabilities). Each type of capability depends on an infrastructure of technologies, structures, and organizational culture and a set of processes, or activities, that make up the actual work of managing knowledge. These … Read the rest

Effective Knowledge Management: Collaboration

Effective knowledge management (KM) requires effective collaboration since fundamentally it is about taking what is known by individuals and creating the potential for it to be known by others. Collaboration is a defining characteristic of team based work, and it is especially true for knowledge-intensive functions such as R&D, marketing and customer support.

Three Conditions for Effective Collaboration: A collaborative culture is most likely to emerge when the following three conditions exist:

  1. Trust, transparency and learning are valued
  2. Organizational roles, rules, and rewards support knowledge exchange and learning
  3. People have the skills, motivation and tools to work with others

Three Essential Values: Values are those core set of principles and beliefs that guide action. For effective knowledge management, trust, transparency, and learning are essential because they are integral to collaboration.

  • Trust is the expectation that others will be benevolent, reliable, competent, honest and open. Interpersonal trust is distinct from an organizational climate that values it. In such
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