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Focus on Leadership and Culture, Not Technology, to Gain the Edge

 

Knowledge Management

Many Companies or organizations are massively investing into systems and technology to organize, execute and distribute information. This is what they wrongly describe as knowledge Management. The problem is that this misconception has made a lot of companies to face disappointments that arises from knowledge management (KM).

There is a great difference between information and knowledge. Even KM experts make this same mistake. The fact is that Knowledge by definition cannot be completely converted into an object which is transferred from one individual to another. 

Knowledge can only be diffused or spread through certain learning processes where individuals gradually develop new capacities for effective action. This can only be effective when done within a learning community that is built on psychological safety and trust. In a working environment where there is pessimism and impracticable expectations knowledge cannot be effectively dispersed.

The major aim of this article or study is to help organizations withdraw back from focusing only on the technological component of knowledge management. Then take steps that will broaden their approach on knowledge management to also include performance drivers built around culture, leadership and organization.

What is Knowledge Management?

As it stands, there is currently no globally accepted definition of KM but there are generally accepted basic concepts from which KM could be derived from. Knowledge management necessitates the capturing, structuring, improving and dispersing knowledge of an organization.

KM also involves

The ability to leverage both silent consent and clearly stated knowledge in a organized way.

Sharing the right information, to the right person, at the right cost and time

Making well informed decisions using the knowledge shared

With KM it is easier to solve complex management problems, engage in dynamic learning, have strategic plans, and improve collaboration amongst workers. Effective KM completely removes the possibility of intellectual assets to decay.

What are the Components of KM Best Practices?

When creating a global standard KM, it is important to consider the two most critical success factors which include Leadership and Culture. For us to properly implore the globally accepted good practices of KM there are certain performance dimensions that need to be considered like: Strategy, Culture, Technology, Process and Leadership. Building Knowledge Management in such a way that it aligns with the business strategy is a clear success factor.



KM Strategy

Building Knowledge Management in such a way that it aligns with the business strategy is a clear success factor. There are certain best practices that need to be used for the development of a business knowledge strategy that links all knowledge management together:

A drive towards operational excellence

It is key to note what promotes full organizational participation

Determine the knowledge that is needed

Determine the knowledge that is available

Assess any possible knowledge gap

Develop or purchase relevant knowledge

Knowledge strategy clearly aligns with a core component of business strategy

KM Culture

In as much as organizations welcome technological changes, it is important to also highlight the fact that they need to embrace a world-class cultural change within an organization. This is necessary to build an organizational environment where they have a common language and understanding of basic KM centered on key business goals. They can create the culture of sharing knowledge and business to enhance objectives.


For instance, the organization can

Make sure that every one that contribute or share knowledge is remarkably commended to the senior executives. Decide to design an appraisal, promotion and performance reward system that is based on knowledge sharing. Try innovations like Company Knowledge Award and Operational Excellence Program that promote knowledge sharing within the organization.

KM Technology

A good management practice of KM is that which uses technology to implement KM behaviors and the technology is custom-made to meet the needs of the end users. It is very important to focus on the business need and user requirements before investing much in the technology. Because if the organization does not need what the technology does then it is useless to the company and the user
For instance, Bob Buckman, ex CEO, Buckman Laboratories, and Chairman of the Executive Committee Developed a custom built KM solutions to meet business and user requirements.

When he was customizing the technology, he ensured that the system is:

Tailored to the requirements of each user community and

Easy to use applications developed on the understanding of user requirements

Focused on the applications that employees currently use and ensured that they are more efficient - e.g. they used MS Outlook for discussion groups functionality

Integrate KM tools into important applications like:

Extranet

Intranet

Marketing Applications

CRM System

KM Process

Organizations can focus on the development of reliable and best practice processes that support KM. These processes should allow the addition of content to systems and give direction for the collection, creation and authentication of content. These processes should also have idea on the life cycle for maintaining and finishing products. Within this Processes, KM can be considered in some aspects to help ensure that content flows from a standard central control point.


KM Leadership

In order to drive the success of any organizational initiative, it is very important to consider Leadership. Because the impact of leadership much more effective. For instance, one of the knowledge strategy deployed was to make someone oversee and direct the activities of Knowledge Management. The person appointed to oversee this role is known as the Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO).

For effectiveness, does not necessarily have to be a permanent position, it could be rotated amongst the employees in the organization. This approach creates the consciousness of Leadership in the mind of every one; thereby making all the workers to be knowledge Leaders. For example, a global software company conducts a leadership program in which knowledge-sharing and collaboration are emphasized amongst all the staff. This is a key reason they have no Chief Knowledge Officer.

A program is developed to identify and foster knowledge leaders throughout the organization. Aside from having a CKO, they also built another tier of Knowledge Leaders known as 'knowledge champions' or 'knowledge mentors' - at different levels across the organization.

Another leadership initiative that is practiced is that in which the organization leadership itself must be seen to act as knowledge mentors and collaborators. In this case, it is “Leadership by Example” where the leaders are seen to model the lifestyle that they are trying to promote within their employees.

In Buckman Laboratories for example, the ex-CEO - Bob Buckman, (presently the Chairman of the Executive Committee) has a principle of contacting any employees that have not been actively involved in the company's knowledge sharing system. Bob Buckman will ask them why they have not been contributing to the knowledge sharing system and what assistance the leadership can provide to help them contribute more.

Much of the attention in knowledge management comes from the difficult of diffusing innovative practices within an organization. In order to remain competitive in the future, many organizations will have to abandon their ideas of hoarding information and embrace the culture of knowledge sharing.

Enhanced diffusion of knowledge will not happen just because the CEO says it should or want it to happen, or because management purchased new information technology hardware. Only people can do that. There is need to supplement organizational knowledge system with the informal natural working culture of the individuals.

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