The second in a series of three articles which looks at some aspects of Knowledge Management.
Knowledge Management recognises that knowledge is embedded in an enterprise’s resources, its people, its storage repositories, its processes and procedures and its Information and Communications Technologies. (See Diagram 1)
Knowledge management has been defined as a business process for managing intellectual assets, a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to the creation, capture and organisation, access and use of an enterprise’s knowledge and information assets (eg structured databases, textual data and tacit knowledge and expertise of individual employees).
An organisation’s Knowledge Management strategy seeks to “know what it knows’, and set in train a means of ensuring that one part of the organisation is not duplicating work simply because it is not able to keep track of and make use of knowledge already resident in the organisation.
Knowledge within an organisation resides in many different places such as:
- Knowledge bases
- Filing cabinets
- People’s heads
- Distributed right across the organisation
A Knowledge Management system needs to develop strategies for:
- Knowledge creation – innovation
- Storage – with the means of easily finding and retrieving as required
- Communication – sharing and collaborating tools and environment
- Organisational culture conducive to creating, sharing and using knowledge
Knowledge management is about leveraging useful knowledge from the right people, together with the processes, and technology resources to effect appropriate decisions and actions. (See Diagram 2).
Information and Communications Technology (ICT) will enhance knowledge processes and support knowledge workers in several ways:
- Providing ready access to organisational information
- Providing communications interaction with fellow knowledge workers.
However, it is the culture within an organisation which provides the principle enabler to Knowledge Management. This often involves the removal of barriers between functional groups, and within hierarchical organisational structures, in order to enable the sharing of knowledge and the development of collaborative practices. Each knowledge worker is part of the knowledge asset of the organisation. The combined team of knowledge workers is the organisational asset. As with any team, the combined knowledge asset is more valuable than the sum of its parts.
Other articles in this series:
Part 1: What is knowledge?
Part 3: Knowledge Management and e-Learning