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Monday, August 08, 2005

Ten ways to embed knowledge management

By Rowan Wilson

KM needs to be embedded in everyday business processes for it to really deliver. Here are some guidelines.

Build a KM strategy.
This is your plan based on what knowledge and systems will give your organization competitive advantage. KM expert Chuck Seeley identifies six key components: governance, culture, content management, technology, application and measurement.

Define and communicate knowledge performance.
Knowledge performance can be defined as valuing and using the knowledge of the organization on the job. Do employees know how they create value and make money for the company? What knowledge do they need to do this?

Identify key knowledge positions.
In some positions, the way employees deal with knowledge can mean the difference between company success and failure. These jobs will need knowledge performance targets to match.
Develop knowledge-sharing proficiencies. People across the organization need to know what it means to share and use knowledge. A dedicated team will need a special skill set to act as knowledge "brokers."

Reward knowledge-sharing behaviors.
Rewarding can be planned, explicit, and purposeful. If knowledge performance objectives are not part of a manager's job, the company will have little success in spreading the word.
Don't get obsessed with tacit knowledge. You can't capture everything, and plug people's heads into a mainframe (yet). Focus on the connections (whether people, process, or technological) which allow knowledge to be shared.

Encourage networking and respect communities.
Face-to-face or team meetings have a natural dynamic which transfers tacit knowledge. While KM needs to be incentivized and strongly embedded, be careful not to stifle Communities of Practice (COPs), which are often spontaneous hubs for knowledge transfer and a fertile seedbed for new ideas.

Capture best-practice.
From customer service to technical problems, most scenarios have already occurred. A little knowledge will go a long way.

Map knowledge.
"Content management" is often overlooked as part of a KM strategy. Mapping pulls together all sources of knowledge and creates a "virtual roadmap" so people can easily find the information they need, and helps lock KM into a course aimed at meeting business objectives.

Make it policy.
Consider formal agreements on knowledge performance for key positions. Make performance expectations clear to every new employee during any orientation program, and enshrine the organization's commitment to KM in its literature and handbooks.

This article was taken from Knowledge Management Review.


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