When charting a new destiny for KM, it is important that we get the basics right. The basics involve understanding what knowledge is for organizations. Anything and everything within an organization is expressions of knowledge, be that the ability of an employee, approach/process adopted to perform an activity, the culture of an organization, how employees come together, the products or services.
Knowledge Management practitioners and researchers should appreciate this aspect. Any intervention and approach to managing knowledge should evolve from this understanding. The difference in competitiveness between two organizations can be explained in the difference in the knowledge they have with respect to customer knowledge, product knowledge, product knowledge etc. The ability to visualize organizational functioning in terms of knowledge will help us evolve interventions that have a direct impact on the performance of organizations.
It is very interesting to note how we casually say someone has the right skills and knowledge, but do not realize they both mean the same. The terms like capability, ability, talent, skills, expertise or aptitude means knowledge in one form or the other. Hence when we hear training team conducting learning sessions, they are doing a Knowledge Management job by imparting employees with relevant know-how, know what or know why. When someone is undergoing an on the job training, it is nothing but acquiring more of know-how.
Sharing a few definitions from Oxford dictionary
Hence employees are nothing but a mix of different kinds of knowledge. It can be knowledge related to softs skills, products, process, tools, technology, domain, management etc. Similarly, the processes of an organization, core competency or thought leadership reflect a mix of knowledge.
When we start realizing and appreciating the fact that everything is knowledge, we will be able to find ways of managing organization by leveraging knowledge. Only this approach will have a lasting impact on the performance of the organization. More on this can be found in the blog: Reading ‘Organizations’ , as a mix of different Knowledge.
Suggested reading materials:
- On the distinction between know-how, know-what and know-why by Raghu Garud
- Knowledge, Knowledge Work and Organizations: An Overview and Interpretation by Frank Blackler
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