Lesson: Introduction to knowledge management

 

Productivity Point International – United Nations
E-Learning Engine, LLC
Phone: 502-459-2358  Fax: 800-536-5013
E-Mail: aschneider@e-le.com  12/15/2005



 

Table of Contents

Interactive Buttons

Overview.. 1

Objectives 3

Introduction. 5

Component 1: Informational Infrastructure. 6

Component 2: Organizational Milieu. 8

Sociotechnology. 11

Knowledge Management Challenges 13

Summary. 15

For More Information. 17

 


Overview

 

 

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1

 

Knowledge management is not a technology, a solution, or a software package, but is fundamentally a business practice or strategy. Successful knowledge management (KM) requires strategic implementations that encompass a variety of professional disciplines so that the right information can be delivered to the right people at the right time.

 

 

2

 

Knowledge management is designed to give employees solutions and insights into problems by providing them with access to the entire problematic construct so they can make crucial, dynamic, and information-based decisions, or deliver high-quality services to fellow colleagues, customers or partners.

 

 

3

 

In order to understand the best practices of Knowledge Management, one must understand the relationship between and among data, information and knowledge.

 

 

4

 

Data are facts and figures that are meaningful in some way.  They are explicit. Account balances, demographic information, statistics, names and addresses can be understood are type of data that can be found within our daily newspapers.

 

 

5

 

Information on the other hand is a bit more complex.  Although explicit, information is data that is organized for a specific purpose.  For example, names and addresses which are captured and organized for the use of a marketing department’s sales efforts can be legitimately called information.

 

 

6

 

Knowledge is the most elusive concept of the three.  Historically, knowledge has its roots within a philosophical construct.  Philosophers may find this useful, but a knowledge manager must have a more utilitarian tool. 

 

 

7

 

To be knowledgeable, implies that an individual can substantiate or justify a certain truth.  “Knowing” is not something tangible that can be lost such as data or information, but “knowing” is what an individual possess as well as his/her ability to exercise its use. 

 

 

8

 

This lesson will introduce the participant to the two major components of Knowledge Management and the relationships associated with each and issues.

 

 

9

 

A glossary of KM tools can be found by visiting: http://www.kmtool.net/vocabulary.htm

 

 

 

Objectives

 

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1

 

At the end of this lesson you will be able to:

 

  • Define what Knowledge Management is.

 

  • Identify the two major components of Knowledge Management.

 

  • Examine the role of data, information and knowledge within each component.

 

  • Explore additional issues associated within each component.

 

  • Identify issues that may aid in the merging and integration of both components.

 

  • Examine issues which may impact the future of Knowledge Management practices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

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1

 

The underlying premise of Knowledge Management is the promise that employees will share knowledge, performance tips, best practices, and “lessons learned’ with their fellow colleagues or interact with a data base repository in order to achieve a competitive leverage for the organization.

 

 

2

 

This intermingling of knowledge based assets places pressure and tension on and among the organization’s informational infrastructure and its organizational milieu.

 

 

3

 

By examining an organization’s informational infrastructure and its milieu the will introduce the student to a pragmatic understanding and basic utilization of how data, information and knowledge is used within each setting

 

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Component 1: Informational Infrastructure

 

 

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As noted within our overview, explicit knowledge is knowledge which is written down, codified, and expressed in words or numbers.  Explicit knowledge can be stored, indexed, copied, manipulated, shared and re-used.

 

 

2

 

Examples of explicit knowledge can be reports, case studies, project plans, methodologies, process instructions, customer data, strategic data, and so forth.

 

 

3

 

Today’s enterprises utilize technology to hold explicit knowledge found within databases; e-mails, statements, reports, images, videos and all kinds of unstructured text.

 

 

4

 

The challenge to an organization’s informational infrastructure (usually referred to as information technology or IT) is keeping up with vast amounts of increasing information  

 

 

5

 

Furthermore, the seamless flow of data and information via IT technology does not necessarily translate into efficient work flow for personnel. 

 

 

6

 

Humans aren't quite as good as computers and networks at behaving predictably, even front-line IT shops oftentimes have to navigate occasional workflow snafu. To combat this problems an organization should instill good work-flow habits. This translates into staff members' treating IT as a profession rather than purely technical labor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Component 2: Organizational Milieu

 

 

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One of the interesting consequences of establishing a Knowledge Management strategy is the establishment and maintenance of “individuals” who will pass knowledge from one individual to another or to a larger community as a whole.   

 

 

2

 

The western organizational community normally consists of managers and workers.  This highly evolved and interactive environment presents both the manager and employee a unique point of view. An examination   

 

 

3

 

Managerial Point of View

Few managers understand the nature of a knowledge creating company.  Most western managers have a very narrow concept of what knowledge is and how to exploit it.  They envision a company which only “processes information”.

 

 

4

 

In reality, a Knowledge Management Enterprise is not simply “processing” data and information; it taps into the tacit and subjective insights, intuitions and insights of their personnel.

 

 

5

 

Thus the organization must be willing and able to become a “learning organization” in order to capture and discriminate individual innovation.

 

 

6

 

Although most organizations see idea-sharing as an obvious good practice, they might be ignoring their own cultures.

 

 

7

 

In order for managers to garner tacit information they must be willing to be redundant and frequent in their communication with their employees, peers and upper level management. This helps create a “common cognitive ground” that facilitates the transfer of implied knowledge.

 

 

8

 

Other techniques, such as strategic rotation of individual employees between different technological areas and between departments makes organizations more fluid and enables Knowledgenet Management to grow within the organizational system. 

 

 

9

 

Employee Point of View

Larger and more intractable forces are now at play.  As larger corporations are the first to declare there are no job-for-life opportunities.  To compete in the global market most companies can promise that no job will last longer than a minute it takes to find a cheaper and more efficient way of getting things done.

 

 

 

 

Thus the individual is seen as ‘temporary” and the need for the individual to contribute is often questioned by “Why should I bother? What’s in it for me? And if I share my ideas will they be used by others with giving me credit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sociotechnology

 

 

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Sociotechnology, in our current context, is the improvement of Knowledge Management by shifting the main focus away from a technology focus to a social focus.

 

 

2

 

How groups communicate as well as what they voluntarily communicate is as important as the knowledge each has. The encouragement of shared interests, common values and satisfying solutions promote the use of shared knowledge.

 

 

3

 

Research indicates that managerial decisions that overlap employees within teams increase the continuity of contact, provide for joint learning experiences and enhance informal information sharing.

 

 

4

 

These contacts can reinforce project goals and develop continuous mechanisms that can update the organizations knowledge base.

 

 

 

 

Furthermore, great attention must be given to the creation of an organizational environment which is centered around an employees concept of his/her recognition and fair treatment, employment security, hiring practices, compensation, based upon the organization’s performance, extensive training procedures, egalitarian principles and self-managed teams.

 

 

 

 

The end result of such an arrangement will be a greater emphasis on group or team dynamics. This will create an inverted hierarchy of line personnel that drive the organization to meet its goals rather than the current day hierarchical managerial structure.

 

 

 

 

Essential face-to-face communication must take place among all employees, rather than relying purely on technological communication, such as emails, in order to insure that the promise Knowledge Management now offers can become a reality. 

 

 

 

 

Knowledge Management Challenges

 

 

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As older workers leave, the retention of lost knowledge presents organizations with significant challenges and opportunities.

 

 

2

 

The reality of demographic trends indicate that the baby-boomer retirement from the workforce and many mid-career transitions for Generation X, will end result in massive quantities of invaluable, irreplaceable, and specialized knowledge leaving the workforce.

 

 

3

 

Fortunately, human resource departments and workplace learning and performance professionals can play leading roles in the retention and supplying of critical knowledge for their organizational needs.

 

 

4

 

However, the foremost hurdle is getting organizational leadership to acknowledge the threat and potential impact of lost knowledge. "Most of western business are totally in denial,"

 

 

5

 

In order to address this concern, a knowledge retention strategy can be put in place that focuses upon:

  • human resources processes and practices

 

  • knowledge transfer practices

 

  • knowledge recovery initiatives

 

  • IT applications to capture, store, and share knowledge

 

 

6

 

The interaction of the above factors can offer organizations the ability to thrive in the face of rapid change and renew intellectual assets.

 

 

 

 

Summary

 

 

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1

 

In summary, Knowledge Management is business strategy which is designed to give employees an holistic view of  gathered data, information and knowledge so within various constructs so they can make critical decisions necessary for their organization the thrive.

 

 

2

 

Data and information is usually organized and stored within IT Departments.  It is a fast paced and every changing environment.

 

 

3

 

Personnel associated within the IT community should be treated as professionals rather than labor.

 

 

4

 

The organizational environment for KM includes both managerial and support staff.  Both parties must be open and willing to appreciate each other’s values and opinions for a learning organization to exist. 

 

 

5

 

Sociotechnology, an emphasis upon social solutions rather that technological solutions

can aid in the emergence and integration of KM within an organization.

 

 

6

 

Techniques, such as rotation of individuals within teams and face-to-face communications can provide the organization with improved and more efficient use of its knowledge base.

 

 

7

 

Outstanding challenges include demographic changes and current organizational leadership.  Human resource departments and training professionals can provide a foundation from which strategic managerial decisions can be implemented.

 

 

 

 

 

For More Information

 

 

Source/URL

Title:

Periodical

Towards a second generation of KM? The people management challenge

Chris Carter,  Harry Scarbrough. Education & Training. London: 2001.Vol.43, Iss. 4/5;  pg. 215, 10 pgs

http://whitepapers.techrepublic.com/abstract.aspx?docid=153585&promo=300111&tag=wpr.6285,6175,6271

Information Infrastructure: Delivering the Advantage of Information Integration Today

Paperback Book

Harvard Business Review on Knowledge Management

Peter F. Drucker, et. Al. Aug 7, 1998, Harvard Business School Press

 

Journal Article

Knowledge management: Hype, hope, or help?

David C Blair. Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology. Hoboken: Oct 2002. Vol. 53, Iss. 12; p. 1019

Periodical

Why Would I Tell you?

Jack Gordon.  Training. Minneapolis: August 2005. Vol. 42, Iss. 8; p. 8

Periodical

The New Brain Drain

Jennifer J Salopek. T + D. Alexandria: Jun 2005.Vol.59, Iss. 6;  pg. 23, 2 pgs

Journal Article

Knowledge workers' perceptions of performance ratings

Alan D Smith, William T Rupp. Journal of Workplace Learning. Bradford: 2004.Vol. 16, Iss. 3/4;  pg. 146, 21 pgs

Journal Article

Managing change

Jonathan Feldman. Network Computing. Manhasset: Mar 4, 2002.Vol.13, Iss. 5;  pg. 52, 3 pgs

Online vocabulary tool for KM terms

http://www.kmtool.net/vocabulary.htm