Knowledge management (KM) is the process of creating, sharing, using and managing the knowledge and information of an organisation. Knowledge management is encompassed by a multidisciplinary approach to achieving organisational objectives by understanding the power of and making the best use of knowledge.
Many organisations have resources dedicated to internal KM efforts, often as a part of their business strategy, IT or human resource management departments.
Knowledge management efforts typically focus on organisational objectives such as improved performance, competitive advantage, innovation, the sharing of lessons learned, integration and continuous improvement of the organisation.
The time and energy invested in these areas often overlaps with organisational learning. The distinguishing factor between these two is that KM envelopes a far greater focus on the management of knowledge as a strategic asset and on encouraging the sharing of knowledge. KM is an enabler of organisational learning.
One proposed framework for categorising the dimensions of knowledge distinguishes tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge.
Tacit knowledgerepresents internalised knowledge that an individual may not be consciously aware of, such as to accomplish particular tasks.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, explicit knowledge represents knowledge that the individual holds consciously in mental focus, in a form that can easily be communicated to others.
The SECI model (Socialisation, Externalisation, Combination, Internalisation) which considers a spiralling interaction between explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge. In this model, knowledge follows a cycle in which tacit knowledge is ‘extracted’ to become explicit knowledge, and explicit knowledge is ‘re-internalised’ into tacit knowledge.
Motivations for KM
Multiple motivations lead organisations to undertake KM. Typical considerations include:
- Making available increased knowledge content in the development and provision of products and services.
- Achieving shorter development cycles.
- Facilitating and managing innovation and organisational learning.
- Leveraging expertise across the organisation.
- Increasing network connectivity between internal and external individuals.
- Managing business environments and allowing employees to obtain relevant insights and ideas appropriate to their work.
- Solving intractable or wicked problems.
- Managing intellectual capital and assets in the workforce.
Effectively managing organisational knowledge is a powerful resource which enables and empowers cross-disciplinary staff towards success. If you want to learn more about empowering members of your organisations download our free whitepaper Operational Efficiency: 4 Ways to Empower the Maintenance Planner