To ensure knowledge management is institutionalized and practised in a systematic manner, the implementation should be well structured, and management/leadership team should be made aware of that. Knowledge Managers should be clear how they are contributing to the organization, where they are contributing and why it is required. This will help Knowledge Managers in control of the KM practice, communicate in clear terms and measure relevant parameters.
Before approach to KM is discussed a brief overview of stages of KM is shared. There have been studies done to understand the stages of progress of KM practice. One can observe four phases in the growth of KM practice, starting from content management (explicit knowledge) driven practices. Library sciences had a lot of influence in this phase. The second phase focused on connecting people to leverage tacit (or implicit) knowledge. The first two phases together constitute a huge market of more than $20Bn dollar for software product companies. The third phase marks the beginning of proactive KM, where KM practices get institutionalized. In this phase, one can see practices related to lessons learned becoming common. Very few organizations are able to practise this on a regular basis and not many products are available in this space. The fourth phase is the key phase, where knowledge is put into action and institutionalization becomes complete. Focus is on embedding knowledge into the way tasks are performed. A blog explaining this further will be published at some time.
Hygiene and Value add based approach: To bring structure to KM implementation, hygiene and value-based approach is suggested. The hygiene part focuses on “setting the house straight”. Key practices include content management and sharing/collaboration. The value add focuses on putting knowledge into action. This is done by leveraging existing knowledge, creating new knowledge, to help organizations continuously improve. While the hygiene part is related to stages 1 & 2 in the maturity stages, value add part is mapped to stages 3 & 4.
Hygiene part of KM: The hygiene part of KM which is more of the “Legacy KM” focuses on protecting existing knowledge, making it easy for employees to access it and connecting employees with each other through sharing and collaboration. It is the part of KM that is driven by “Library Sciences”. One can term this phase as a reactive phase as the intention is more on safeguarding and employee driven reuse.
– Knowledge protection through content management: Knowledge audit, ensuring critical knowledge is stored, knowledge retention and updatation will be a key task here.
– Sharing and collaboration: Building networks for people to break down boundaries. Help knowledge flow across the organization through people network. Social networking platforms play a key role here.
– Organizational culture building: While building a culture is part of sharing and collaboration programs, it is mentioned separately as culture plays a key role in bringing together and ensuring growth of the network
Value add part of KM: After the hygiene part is set, one can move into the value add part of KM. Note that in hygiene part itself, knowledge reuse and leveraging will start, however it will be employee-driven. In value-add part, the usage of knowledge will be institutionalized with a focus on systematically improving the way organizations work. The value add part will be key to the organization to stay competitive.
– Building maturity in performing tasks: KM team will be responsible for improving maturity in performing tasks. They will coordinate this activity through BPM team, Tools Team and L&D team
– Enable automation of tasks: As part of building maturity, KM team will focus on facilitating automation of routine and non-complex aspects of tasks.
– Grow core competencies: Safe guarding and growing the core competencies will be a key responsibility in this phase.
Many organizations are having a combination of Hygiene and Value add part, but it has to be well defined. The Hygiene part, which at times is more operational and routine can be performed by junior employees or automated. The value add aspect is more complex and will need deep knowledge about how the organization works and the role of tasks.
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