Knowledge Management: Sharing What is Known

One by one, employees learn what they need to know and develop areas of expertise that are called on when needed to perform a certain job. However, there are occasions in which somebody in an organization requires special expertise but doesn’t know how to find it within the company. When this occurs, the company may waste time and money by “reinventing the wheel,” developing expertise that already exists (if they only knew where to find it). In other cases, if the necessary expertise is not tapped or new expertise is not developed, then either something will get done improperly or it will not get done at all.

Acknowledging this situation, in recent years many companies have instituted what is known as knowledgement management programs. Knowledge management is defined as the process of gathering, organizing, and sharing a company’s information and knowledge assets. Typically, knowledgement programs involve using technology to establish repository databases and retreival systems. These are ways of using computers to sort through and identify the areas of expertise represented in the company—that is, its intellectual capital. But don’t misunderstand: Knowledgement relies on human skills for success. Computers merely organize what those skills are and where in the company they may be found. One-third of all companies and 80 percent of large multinational enterprises already have a knowledge management system in place, and most others expect to implement in the near future.

It’s important to note that simply having a knowledge management program does not ensure success. Employees also must use it, but too often they don’t. this is called knowing-doing gap—the tendency for employees to refrain from using the knowledge that’s available to them in the company, leading to poor performance. Although there are many possible reasons for not using a knowledge management system, the most dominant is the tendency for employees to be afraid of expressing their ideas (for fear of giving people in other parts of the company an advantage over them) or of seeking ideas from others (for fear of admitting that they don’t know something). Obviously, for knowledgement to be effective people in the company have to be willing to both donate and receive information. To ensure that their company’s knowledge resources are put to use, execuitives put various incentives in place to encourage the company’s many experts to add their expertise to the database and to encourage employees to use others’ expertise contained in the database. Given the success of the company’s system, it’s apparent that the knowing-doing gap may not be found in the company. In fact, on the heels of its success, similar systems need to be introduced in the company’s sales reps and its research and development unit.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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