Knowledge Management

How can you promote knowledge management (KM) to an organization that has a relatively low awareness about KM?

Knowledge Management (KM) is still far from popular and even not in one of the topics in business management program. Therefore, a lot of management in the companies do not aware of how and what to manage knowledge. Even though they know the importance of knowledge as one of the critical assets, they don’t know what and how to make the first step and where to go.

The most important enablers for KM are people and culture. According to IT Knowledge Portal:

People are the bearers of tacit knowledge. And the sharing of tacit knowledge is crucial to the success of knowledge management .For this reason, perturbations in the composition of the workforce can have significant impact on the organization’s performance. Accordingly, the knowledge management process within an organization must take into account not only the processes and material resources but, more importantly, the people by whom knowledge is generated. This is what is known as the “people and culture” enabler in knowledge management.

To promote the KM in the company, first of all, full support from senior management must be obtained. Therefore, the disadvantages or problems without KM will have to be addressed to draw their attention. For example, the valuable knowledge is lost by key personnel’s resignation or retirement. Quantify the high training cost without KM. They should have the vision and mission what the company wants to achieve in KM.

In some companies, each department holds the team building discussion after staff satisfaction survey every year. Instead of the traditional group discussion, we can change the approach to self-organizing community of practice (COP) or knowledge café. Thus, colleagues will share the problems and issues that they are currently facing in the forum; and, in turn, the resolutions will be proposed by sharing their knowledge.

That is just the beginning of fostering KM culture in the organization. We must retain and share the forum results across the organization or the KM cannot be sustained. To do so, we can utilize the web portal to publish COP output and let the whole organization to participate in the sharing their thoughts. Fortunately, a lot of companies nowadays have their own intranets and email systems. The infrastructure is easy to establish. With effective taxonomies, people in the companies can easily identify in what aspects they are interested. Moreover, the management can launch some kinds of incentive programs to encourage and stimulate their employees to give innovative ideas.

As mentioned above, KM must be sustainable. Therefore, we must provide enough training to all staff members in our organizations. From software skill to professional training, vendors or organizations themselves already provides and install the e-learning. Therefore, staff can pick up the courses that they are most interested in or that are related to their jobs.

Other than those outside vendors, to make e-learning or training effective, we must have the knowledgeable and experienced personnel to transfer their tacit knowledge into the explicit one. Hence, the contents of the courses will not be too generic but fit for the organizations themselves. Such knowledge transformation must not be only limited to training, but for maintaining the knowledge repository also.

All knowledge management systems require a certain level of technology and infrastructure support to be effective. As business processes become increasingly complex, knowledge management can be fully implemented only when appropriate information and communication technologies are available. The table, also sourced from IT knowledge portal, has summarized what technology system can support KM:

Technology Appropriate to Knowledge Management Approach

REPOSITORY MODEL Internet, HTML, XML

Full text search engines

Document management systems

COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE Web conferencing

Threaded discussion groups

Automated workflow

Expert Directories

CONTINUOUS LEARNING Learning management systems

Electronic performance support systems (EPSS)

Performance management

BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE Databases

Data Mining Tools

Enterprise Databases

Decision Support Tools

With integrating the above components: people, culture, training and technology. We can promote the knowledge management in the progressive and sustainable manner.

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