Knowledge Management

Published May 3, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Most experts agree that knowledge management is not utilized to its fullest potential in many organizations.  The ability to respond quickly to changes in the marketplace and recognizing opportunities has become an important competitive advantage.  Hanley’s (2003) research asserts that knowledge management must be considered as a prerequisite, for it has become a significant component and more visible in the balance sheets that reveal the financial worth of organizations.  The asset of knowledge management has the power to deliver organizational success in a variety of ways including: (a) the reduction of cycle time, (b) the improvement of quality, (c) lowered costs, (d) increased organizational learning, and (e) improved core competencies (Haney, 2003).  In other words, knowledge management is important to the success of organizations because acquiring and processing information increases situational understanding, helps to identify and analyze relationships, and enables higher quality decision making.

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Knowledge Management Components

Some organizational leaders believe that a huge investment in information technology will bring about higher quality decisions, only to discover that the delivery and presentation of said technology shows very little improvement in knowledge generation for decision making.  Leaders in this case fail to recognize that factors identified in the decision making process encompass more than the process of base technological usage.  It also includes the following influential components: (a) the organizational culture, (b) the organizational processes, and (c) the compensation and reward systems that have been established in the firm.  Organizations with knowledge exploiting capabilities are known as knowledge intensive firms because they have implemented an organizational system that efficiently manages and uses information effectively to stimulate organizational learning.  For example, one aspect of knowledge management amalgamates organizational information in a manner that produces value by generating new intellectual property (Ward, 2006).  Organizations that do not apply knowledge management strategies can hinder organizational development and productivity.

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Knowledge Management Programs

Effective leaders and management teams comprehend that information increases situational understanding.  Hsieh (2007) postulates that knowledge management in organizations must consider three viewpoints: (a) a business view that focuses on the why, where, and to what extent the company must invest in or exploit information – including which strategies, products and services, alliances, or acquisitions or divestments should be considered from a knowledge based perspective; (b) a managerial view that is centered on determining, organizing, directing, and monitoring knowledge related activities that will help achieve business goals; and (c) a hands-on operational viewpoint that focuses on applying professional skills to manage explicit knowledge-based operation.  Knowledge management programs should include strategies and vehicles to help enable and identify the organizational direction and facilitate effective activities to help achieve those desired outcomes (Hsieh, 2007). The use of technology, organizational systems, and socialization are three examples of how knowledge management programs can be implemented in organizations to foster higher quality decision making that can affect their development and productivity.

Technology – One knowledge management program that leaders employ is the use of technology.  Researchers observe that the three common technologies utilized the most for knowledge management are e-mail, virtual face-to-face conversations, and the use of databases.  These systems can help manage knowledge as both formal and informal processes and exists at all levels: divisional, departmental, team, and individual.  For example, with communication and computer technology, personnel expertise is documented and shared within a company at unprecedented speed and efficiency.

Organizational Systems – Another example of how organizations apply knowledge management consists of the different processes and coordinated systems they execute. For instance various forms, reports, spreadsheets, and other procedures can be used to track activity and progress. This information collection process identifies strengths and weaknesses as well as progress towards outcomes.

Socialization – Finally, one of the most successful knowledge management strategies that organizations employ is social interaction. These face-to-face interactions occur at all levels and in a variety of ways, often intertwined in the production and administrative processes and include: (a) debriefing new members, (b) debriefing returning members, (c) classroom training, (d) luncheons, (e) project team meetings, (f) working with external experts on a project, (g) team conversation, and (h) informal conversations (Haney, 2003). An organization’s climate must include a system that encourages socialization as a means to stimulate staff interaction and knowledge sharing.

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Conclusion

Knowledge management is the key to the survival for any organization.  A collaborative culture that values trust and offers incentives opens opportunities for knowledgeable individuals to share information freely.  Executive leadership that does not implement and support knowledge management systems will most likely experience difficulty governing a productive and efficient organization. Most experts agree that the main constraints to knowledge management are incompetent employers, ineffective strategies, and poorly designed structures.  Organizations that foster a culture which provides support for an effective knowledge management program will experience higher levels of success, growth, and profitability in the marketplace.

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References

Haney, D. (2003). Knowledge management in a professional service firm. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Ann Arbor, IN, USA: ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing. Retrieved April 18, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/305334057?accountid=32521

Hsieh, H.-J. (2007). Organizational characteristics, knowledge management strategy, enablers, and process capability: Knowledge management performance in US software companies. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Ann Arbor, MI, USA. Retrieved April 18, 2012, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/304700978?accountid=3252

Ward, T. (2006). Implementing knowledge management to support effective decision making in a joint military environment: Key enablers and obstacles. Minneapolis, MN, USA: ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing. Retrieved April 18, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/304910517?accountid=32521

2 comments on “Knowledge Management

  • Thank you for this post. It will be helpful to colleagues who are looking for a straightforward overview and useful references. I’ve been blogging about implementing knowledge management and would value your feedback. PracticaKM.org

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