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Bursting the Myth that Knowledge Management Cannot Contribute Directly to Organizational Performance

Human beings are social animals and get socialized to a way of living that restricts their thinking and ability to see reality. Something similar has been happening in the world of KM, where KM practitioners have been socialized to a way thinking and view that KM cannot directly impact the performance of an organization. This thought process has been so ingrained that our measurements are also focused towards interim performance measures, the most common being “no. of download or uploads”, “no. of knowledge sharing sessions”, or “questions asked in a social networking platform” etc. This has also impacted the level of adoption of KM with Leadership always considering KM as good to have and not a must to have practice.

KM cannot directly impact performance is a myth. In fact, KM is probably the only practice that can simultaneously impact cost, quality and time. Let me give you two examples to prove this.

Systematic asset reuse program: In IT services, there is huge scope for reuse of assets in the form of code modules, code snippets, architecture, design, scripts, tools, test frameworks/cases etc. Typical KM interventions limit their focus to creating a repository of assets and evangelizing the same through mailers/posters etc. However one can institutionalize reuse through process changes, which will help push the reuse percentage to as high as 20-25%. Note that we are transforming our approach to reuse from ’employee-driven’ to ‘process-driven’. A jump of 20-25% in reuse will not only bring down the overall cost but also the time taken and quality. Quality improvement happens since tested and proved assets are being reused.

Revenue growth from existing clients: Winning more business from an existing client is an approach most organizations adopt as it is easy to leverage existing relationships. However growing revenue from existing clients is a task, which can be practised as an art or a science. When practised as an art, the focus will be more or less on giving targets for each of the client-facing team and tracking them on achievement. For example, a client-facing team may be given a target of say increase revenue ‘year on year’ by 25%. Here the management is using a typical approach of setting targets and expecting teams to achieve. KM interventions will be focused on finding teams who are good in generating revenue through clients and conduct knowledge sharing sessions by them. However, KM team can also focus on regularly performing lessons learnt, capturing insights, creating a knowledge base on the behaviour of different clients and related know-how, know-what and know-why. By this approach, in a few quarters, organizations will realise that they have much more control into the way they are increasing revenue through clients and also predict how much revenue can come from the client. Here Knowledge management has not only helped in turning art into science but is contributing to revenue growth.

KM practitioners and researchers should realise that they are in charge of a practice which can do wonders for an organization. We have to see reality clearly. As we move to a new year, let us make it a new era for KM. Wishing you a prosperous and knowledge filled 2021.

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