Knowledge is a tool to achieve strategic objectives of any organization. Why we should manage our or organization's knowledge? Having a powerful intranet with a KM portal and discussion board is not all about KM. Why we should promote Knowledge Management in our organization? What Return on Investment we will expect from a KM program? To know all these we must understand what is Knowledge Management. To identify or define knowledge management we must answer three questions.
1. What is the knowledge in the context of the organization?
2. What are the strategic objectives of the organization?
3. What is required to be done to facilitate learning, innovation and sharing to achieve the above objectives?
Any system, which can address all the above issues we can call it knowledge management. We can't create a platform to address the third question without knowing the strategic objectives of the organization. Similarly we must try to identify the knowledge of the organization and then design the tools to answer the points.
What is the knowledge in the context of the organization?
What knowledge today the organization has in terms of its tacit and explicit knowledge to perform its day today works? We may go for a knowledge audit to identify it. Here care is to be taken that eighty percent of the organization knowledge is tacit. A knowledge audit will identify the knowledge inventory of the organization and a knowledge map can be created. This would facilitate in identifying the future knowledge requirements of the organization to achieve its strategic objectives.
What are the strategic objectives of the organization?
Any knowledge Management system has to address the strategic objectives of the organization. Future knowledge requirements are to be planed to address those goals or objectives. The chief knowledge officer ( CKO ) and his / her team has to create or design tools or platforms to facilitate learning, innovation, sharing to achieve those strategic objectives. The simple question to ask is What we want to be ( or achieve) in future? What knowledge is required to achieve that? How to acquire that knowledge?
What is required to be done to facilitate learning, innovation and sharing to achieve the above objectives?
What tool to design to create a platform where knowledge can be generated to achieve future objectives of the company. Here it is very common that we end of with a IT solution but any tool must address the above issues. Type of business process, people issue and other environment is to be considered while creating a platform. Some standard tools like Community of practice (COP) can be deployed in a manufacturing company. COP does not require IT much unless it is a virtual community. IT plays and important role in creating virtual community where members are distributed geographically in a wide area.
Let us now define knowledge management.
Knowledge Management is a system to facilitate learning, innovation and sharing to achieve the strategic objectives of an organization.
Let us focus.
The organization will have a list of strategic objectives; does that mean KM will try to address all? So let us think on the concept Strategic KM area of Focus in our next section.