Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management

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Knowledge Management

If you’re ever looking for a good overview on Knowledge Management, consider this one. I found it useful.

http://www.kmworld.com/Articles/Editorial/What-Is/What-is-KM-Knowledge-Management-Explained-122649.aspx

8 comments

  1. Fantastic Share on Google Plus !!!

    Thanks Gideon Rosenblatt

    What is KM? Knowledge Management Explained

    Jan 15, 2018

    Michael E. D. Koenig

    The classic one-line definition of Knowledge Management was offered up by Tom Davenport early on (Davenport, 1994): “Knowledge Management is the process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge.” Probably no better or more succinct single-line definition has appeared since.

    However, Knowledge Management can best and most quickly be explained by recapping its origins. Later in this article, its stages of development will also be recapped.

    The Origins of KM

    The concept and the terminology of KM sprouted within the management consulting community. When the Internet arose, those organizations quickly realized that an intranet, an in-house subset of the Internet, was a wonderful tool with which to make information accessible and to share it among the geographically dispersed units of their organizations. Not surprisingly, they quickly realized that in building tools and techniques such as dashboards, expertise locators, and best practice (lessons learned) databases, they had acquired an expertise which was in effect a new product that they could market to other organizations, particularly to organizations which were large, complex, and dispersed. However, a new product needs a name, and the name that emerged was Knowledge Management. The term apparently was first used in its current context at McKinsey in 1987 for an internal study on their information handling and utilization (McInerney and Koenig, 2011).  KM went public, as it were, at a conference in Boston in 1993 organized by Ernst and Young (Prusak 1999).  Note that Davenport was at E&Y when he wrote the definition above.

    Those consulting organizations quickly disseminated the principles and the techniques of KM to other organizations, to professional associations, and to disciplines.  The timing was propitious, as the enthusiasm for intellectual capital (see below) in the 1980s, had primed the pump for the recognition of information and knowledge as essential assets for any organization.

    What is KM trying to accomplish?

     Rich, Deep, and Open Communication

    First, KM can very fruitfully be seen as the undertaking to replicate, indeed to create, the information environment known to be conducive to successful R&D—rich, deep, and open communication and information access—and to deploy it broadly across the firm. It is almost trite now to observe that we are in the post-industrial information age and that we are all information workers. Furthermore, the researcher is, after all, the quintessential information worker. Peter Drucker once commented that the product of the pharmaceutical industry wasn’t pills, it was information. The research domain, and in particular the pharmaceutical industry, has been studied in depth with a focus on identifying the organizational and cultural environmental aspects that lead to successful research (Koenig, 1990, 1992). The salient aspect that emerges with overwhelming importance is that of rich, deep, and open communications, not only within the firm, but also with the outside world. The logical conclusion, then, is to attempt to apply those same successful environmental aspects to knowledge workers at large, and that is precisely what KM attempts to do. 

    Situational Awareness

    Second, Situational Awareness is a term only recently, beginning in 2015, used in the context of KM. The term, however, long precedes KM. It first gained some prominence in the cold war era when studies were commissioned by all of the major potential belligerents to try to identify what characteristics made a good fighter pilot. The costs of training a fighter pilot were huge, and if the appropriate characteristics leading to success could be identified, that training could be directed to the most appropriate candidates, and of those trained the most appropriate could be selected for front-line assignment. However, the only solid conclusion of those studies was that the salient characteristic of a good fighter pilot was excellent “situational awareness.”  The problem was that no good predictive test for situational awareness could be developed. 

    The phrase then retreated into relative obscurity until it was resuscitated by Jeff Cooper, a firearms guru, and others in the context of self-defense. How do you defend and protect yourself? The first step is to be alert and to establish good situational awareness. From there the phrase entered the KM vocabulary. The role of KM is to create the capability for the organization to establish excellent situational awareness and consequently to make the right decisions.

    A new definition of KM

    A few years after the Davenport definition, the Gartner Group created another definition of KM, which has become the most frequently cited one (Duhon, 1998), and it is given below:

    “Knowledge management is a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise’s information assets. These assets may include databases, documents, policies, procedures, and previously un-captured expertise and experience in individual workers.”

    The one real lacuna of this definition is that it, too, is specifically limited to an organization’s own information and knowledge assets. KM as conceived now, and this expansion arrived early on, includes relevant information assets from wherever relevant.   Note, however, the breadth implied for KM by calling it a “discipline.”

    Both definitions share a very organizational and corporate orientation. KM, historically at least, was primarily about managing the knowledge of and in organizations.

    Cultural support

    current awareness profiles and databases

    selection of items for alerting purposes / push

    data mining best practices

    (HUNTING)

    Cultural support

    spaces – libraries & lounges (literal & virtual), cultural support, groupware

    travel & meeting attendance

    (HYPOTHESIZE)

    From: Tom Short, Senior consultant, Knowledge Management, IBM Global Services

    (Note however the comments below under “Tacit.”)

    OK, what does KM actually consist of?

    In short, what are the operational components of a KM system? This is, in a way, the most straightforward way of explaining what KM is—to delineate what the operational components are that constitute what people have in mind when they talk about a KM system.

    (1) Content Management

    So what is involved in KM? The most obvious is the making of the organization’s data and information available to the members of the organization through dashboards, portals, and with the use of content management systems. Content Management, sometimes known as Enterprise Content Management, is the most immediate and obvious part of KM. For a wonderful graphic snapshot of the content management domain go to realstorygroup.com and look at their Content Technology Vendor Map. This aspect of KM might be described as Librarianship 101, putting your organization’s information and data up online, plus selected external information, and providing the capability to seamlessly shift to searching, more or less, the entire web. The term most often used for this is Enterprise Search. This is now not just a stream within the annual KMWorld Conference, but has become an overlapping conference in its own right. See the comments below under the “Third Stage of KM” section.

    (2) Expertise Location

     Since knowledge resides in people, often the best way to acquire the expertise that you need is to talk with an expert. Locating the right expert with the knowledge that you need, though, can be a problem, particularly if, for example, the expert is in another country. The basic function of an expertise locator system is straightforward: it is to identify and locate those persons within an organization who have expertise in a particular area. These systems are now commonly known as expertise location systems.  In the early days of KM the term ‘Yellow Pages” was commonly used, but now that term is fast disappearing from our common vocabulary, and expertise location is, in any case, rather more precise.

    There are typically three sources from which to supply data for an expertise locator system: (1) employee resumes, (2) employee self-identification of areas of expertise (typically by being requested to fill out a form online), and (3) algorithmic analysis of electronic communications from and to the employee. The latter approach is typically based on email traffic but can include other social networking communications such as Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. Several commercial software packages to match queries with expertise are available. Most of them have load-balancing schemes so as not to overload any particular expert. Typically such systems rank the degree of presumed expertise and will shift a query down the expertise ranking when the higher choices appear to be overloaded. Such systems also often have a feature by which the requester can flag the request as a priority, and the system can then match high priority to high expertise rank.

    (3) Lessons Learned

    Lessons Learned databases are databases that attempt to capture and make accessible knowledge, typically “how to do it” knowledge, that has been operationally obtained and normally would not have been explicitly captured. In the KM context, the emphasis is upon capturing knowledge embedded in personal expertise and making it explicit. The lessons learned concept or practice is one that might be described as having been birthed by KM, as there is very little in the way of a direct antecedent. Early in the KM movement, the phrase most often used was “best practices,” but that phrase was soon replaced with “lessons learned.” The reasons were that “lessons learned” was a broader and more inclusive term and because “best practice” seemed too restrictive and could be interpreted as meaning there was only one best practice in a situation. What might be a best practice in North American culture, for example, might well not be a best practice in another culture. The major international consulting firms were very aware of this and led the movement to substitute the new more appropriate term. “Lessons Learned” became the most common hallmark phrase of early KM development.

     The idea of capturing expertise, particularly hard-won expertise, is not a new idea.  One antecedent to KM that we have all seen portrayed was the World War II debriefing of pilots after a mission.  Gathering military intelligence was the primary purpose, but a clear and recognized secondary purpose was to identify lessons learned, though they were not so named, to pass on to other pilots and instructors. Similarly, the U. S. Navy Submarine Service, after a very embarrassing and lengthy experience of torpedoes that failed to detonate on target, and an even more embarrassing failure to follow up on consistent reports by submarine captains of torpedo detonation failure, instituted a mandatory system of widely disseminated “Captain’s Patrol Reports.” The intent, of course, was to avoid any such fiasco in the future. The Captain’s Patrol Reports, however, were very clearly designed to encourage analytical reporting, with reasoned analyses of the reasons for operational failure and success. It was emphasized that a key purpose of the report was both to make recommendations about strategy for senior officers to mull over, and recommendations about tactics for other skippers and submariners to take advantage of (McInerney and Koenig, 2011).

    The military has become an avid proponent of the lessons learned concept. The phrase the military uses is “After Action Reports.” The concept is very simple: make sure that what has been learned from experience is passed on, and don’t rely on the participant to make a report. There will almost always be too many things immediately demanding that person’s attention after an action. There must be a system whereby someone, typically someone in KM, is assigned the responsibility to do the debriefing, to separate the wheat from the chaff, to create the report, and then to ensure that the lessons learned are captured and disseminated. The experiences in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria have made this process almost automatic in the military.

    The concept is by no means limited to the military. Larry Prusak (2004) maintains that in the corporate world the most common cause of KM implementation failure is that so often the project team is disbanded and the team members almost immediately reassigned elsewhere before there is any debriefing or after-action report assembled. Any organization where work is often centered on projects or teams needs to pay very close attention to this issue and set up an after-action mechanism with clearly delineated responsibility for its implementation.

    A particularly instructive example of a “lesson learned” is one recounted by Mark Mazzie (2003), a well known KM consultant. The story comes from his experience in the KM department at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. Wyeth had recently introduced a new pharmaceutical agent intended primarily for pediatric use. Wyeth expected it to be a notable success because, unlike its morning, noon, and night competitors, it needed to be administered only once a day, and that would make it much easier for the caregiver to ensure that the child followed the drug regimen, and it would be less onerous for the child. Sales of the drug commenced well but soon flagged. One sales rep (what the pharmaceutical industry used to call detail men), however, by chatting with her customers, discovered the reason for the disappointing sales and also recognized the solution. The problem was that kids objected strenuously to the taste of the drug, and caregivers were reporting to prescribing physicians that they couldn’t get their kid to continue taking the drug, so the old stand-by would be substituted. The simple solution was orange juice, a swig of which quite effectively masked the offensive taste. If the sales rep were to explain to the physician that the therapy should be conveyed to the caregiver as the pill and a glass of orange juice taken simultaneously at breakfast, then there was no dissatisfaction and sales were fine.

    The obvious question that arises is what is there to encourage the sales rep to share this knowledge? The sales rep is compensated based on salary (small), and bonus (large). If she shares the knowledge, she jeopardizes the size of her bonus, which is based on her comparative performance.

    This raises the issue, discussed below, that KM is much more than content management. It extends to how does one structures the organizational culture to facilitate and encourage knowledge sharing, and that extends to how one structures the organization’s compensation scheme.

    The implementation of a lessons learned system is complex.

    (4) Communities of Practice (CoPs)

  2. Interesting to see this is alive and kicking. I was following KM around 2001, and met with a lot of resistance while trying to promote the idea in the industry first as an employee and later as a consultant. Organizations were paranoid about a user searchable internal expertise database leading to poaching of experts. The internet has exploded sufficiently later. Personal professional blogs and social networking sites focussed on professional expertise have filled an important requirement. To my mind making tacit knowledge explicit so that more people can be trained was a challenge. Organizations want the knowledge to be fluid within and viscous outside!

  3. Sowmyan Tirumurti, yeah, information is power and I can see how some orgs might have wanted to control that power. Ultimately, that weakens the org though, right?

  4. Oh WOW Gideon Rosenblatt

    Didn’t Realize The KM Snippet was So Large …

    It’s Been There A While … I Will Delete “post comment”

    Thanks for your Patience …

  5. No problem, Coach G Moore.

  6. Thanks … My Highlights Got Carried away …

    Happy Wednesday !!!

  7. Gideon Rosenblatt I have worked in Indian manufacturing sector as product designer. There was a time when Indian companies would prefer to buy the rights to manufacture an obsolete product from the west, rather than invest in developing local capabilities. ln those days I was able to work on product enhancements but not on a bottom up new design. Manufacturing sector did not know many advanced processes. A ‘collaboration agreement’ providing ‘know how’ cost half a million dollars, was restricted to a relatively miniscule Indian market, and often the only way for the foreign company could get a relatively protected market share in the country. Then came globalization and the outsourcing era, when designs were available for free along with a global scale manufacturing opportunity. Through these more of us got exposed to lots of advanced technology processes here within our own country. We moved from a time when trying out anything new was a technology risk, market risk etc, to an era where we could propose changes, and offer new designs from our development centers. So the opportunity for India opened up due to the sharing mindset. I am sure China also benefited from a similar phenomenon. But I guess the losers were US and Europe, who now seem to wish to turn to protectionism.

  8. The structure on the map/graph shows – it is a good sign of course. But with what quantity representation. I mean x=?,y=?

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