With the advent of information technology, knowledge management has evolved into a technological based program. Understanding what knowledge management is today requires review of what it was in the past. What and how it is applied is the overall goal of knowledge management. Understanding these concepts will allow you to understand the principles behind today’s knowledge management model. This in turn, will allow you to be more knowledgeable about the program you are about to introduce to your organization and recognize if you already have a knowledge management system in place but is outdated.
Paradigms of the Past
Knowledge management does have a past and there are models out there that rely on knowledge collection and storage as the design for a knowledge management system. What resulted from this strategy is usually a query database that employees used to search for knowledge.
Research an old-style knowledge management system that was previously used. Get lessons learned from those who were involved and incorporate this information in your newer knowledge management system proposal.
The New Paradigm
The new paradigm for knowledge management is vastly different from the past. Instead of focusing on data storage and retrieval, the focus is on connections and networks involving employees. There is storage, but this would be more for sharing documents and reference materials. Storage would not be the end-all-be-all system for knowledge management.
The new paradigm takes advantage of new technologies like sharing programs, portals, intranets, etc.
Of course, no system is perfect and the next lesson will discuss the implications of establishing a knowledge management system.
Implications and Applications
As you contemplate the introduction of knowledge management to your organization, you should consider the implications that applying knowledge management brings. If your organization is not used to sharing information and learning, this could become an obstacle to your knowledge management project.
Another consideration is the effect of technology on the organization. The new programs and communication tools present some issues to address in your project plan. It is not wise to make your knowledge management project a technology project.
Finally, you also have to consider who will be the agents for championing and managing the knowledge management program as it develops within your organization. Who will do what? Choosing the wrong people could doom your project because of association with the wrong people. Think globally. If you are not a project manager, you should consider having one on your project. They are trained to watch for these types of risks.
The Knowledge Management Endgame
The most important message you should convey about knowledge management is what it will do for the organization. Simply suggesting knowledge management on its own merits will not gain the support you need. You must remember that knowledge management involves the entire organization and the benefits should span the entire organization.
Therefore, you should clearly communicate the knowledge management end game. Your knowledge management project should address one or more of the following areas to help ground it to a more common business strategy:
- Change management
- Best practices
- Risk management
- Increasing efficiency
- Increased quality
Placing knowledge management more on the back burner then the front will take the focus off the knowledge management project itself and place it on the business strategies that get the interest of managers, creating more support for your project.
The goal of knowledge management is to connect employees to one another in an effort to facilitate knowledge in a way that promotes learning and new knowledge that will help the organization gain a competitive advantage through increased efficiency, quality, and innovation.
Clearly communicating this to your stakeholders will create a solid foundation for support and growth of your knowledge management project.