What is KM

The knowledge that we consider knowledge proves itself in action. What we now mean by knowledge is information in action, information focused on results.

- Peter Drucker

Knowledge management, collaboration, content portals…leave the fancy sounding words aside for a moment. And think, what do you want your company to be?

  • You want it to be productive and profitable. On an ongoing basis.
  • You want people to learn from each other, because there is so much knowledge within everyone.
  • You wish the superstars who have exited the organization had never left.
    They took away a bit of the company when they did.
  • You wish mistakes would not get repeated, and thus impact the bottomline so much!
  • You want the same agility, the instant learning that would happen when the company was small, when everyone knew each other.

Many companies find some of these requirements answered in some form through content management systems, knowledge portals, document management systems, enterprise search, collaboration and social software. But if at the end you are left with any of the following statements, you are still not significantly better off than when you had no real systems in place.

“My team talks of data, reports, information. What about knowledge? Isn’t that where we find our competitive differentiators?”

  • “Oh, we have everything automated. The problem is to retrieve the information when we want it.”
  • “I get fabulous reports of each department. But I can’t make sense of each report in the context of a department that works closely with it. So I still don’t have the complete picture, and certainly not in real-time.”
  • “My team talks of data, reports, information. What about knowledge? Isn’t that where we find our competitive differentiators?”
  • “We faced this same business situation in the last recession. What happened to the lessons we learnt back then? Why did we not apply them?”

Your company is a growing web of people that is connected horizontally, vertically and in between.

It’s good to have the right systems in place. But do they enable learning across the company? Or do they make your company behave, more and more, in silos? Are they so people dependent that if people didn’t post blogs on what they are working on, will no one ever learn?

Your company is a growing web of people that is connected horizontally, vertically and in between. Then how can a system that functions only horizontally, or purely vertically ever capture the essence of the company? You need a pulse on this web, and each node of criss-crossing lines to be powered by key performance indicators. That’s when you get the two things you really want:

  • A bird’s eye view of the web, that collates the KPIs into the real-time true picture of the organization
  • A worm’s eye view of what each node looks like and how it behaves with respect to the other nodes it connects to within the web

Knowledge management has to convert tacit knowledge into actionable intelligence that is then codified into the company’s DNA.

This web needs to be intelligent, social and collaborative. So the knowledge is captured and disseminated to those who need it, when they need it, whether it’s now, or a few quarters or years later. This is true knowledge management. Knowledge management goes far beyond

  • Converting explicit knowledge into reports and dashboards
  • Picking up implicit knowledge an pushing them to portals and content management systems

Knowledge management has to convert tacit knowledge into actionable intelligence that is then codified into the company’s DNA. It is learning that gets institutionalized, so problems don’t recur, mistakes don’t get repeated, and knowledge stays and grows within the company.