Knowledge Management

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What is Knowledge Management?

KM is a deliberate approach to help organizations effectively use and reuse what they know to achieve a sustained competitive advantage. It is an organizational effort to improve business results by influencing the actions people take through:

  • how they interact,
  • the conversations they have,
  • the content they use, and
  • how they share experience and expertise.

An effective KM approach takes you beyond the people, process, and technology framework and focuses on behaviors to create a culture of collaboration; improve productivity and innovation and enable high performing organizational teams.

What Is Knowledge?

Words like “data,” “information,” and “knowledge” are often used interchangeably. But there are some important differences:

  • Data is a specific fact or figure, without any context. For example, the number 1,000 is a piece of data, as is the name Tom Smith. Without anything else to define them, these two items of data are meaningless.
  • Information is data that’s organized. So, pieces of information are “Tom Smith is a CEO” and “1,000 widgets.” We have more details, so now the data makes more sense to us.
  • Knowledge, then, builds on the information to give us context. Knowledge is “Tom Smith is the CEO of our company’s biggest competitor, and his company ships 1,000 widgets every hour.”

The key difference between knowledge and information is that knowledge gives us the power to take action. We can USE it.

There are also two different types of knowledge, explicit and tacit:

  • Explicit knowledge includes things that you can easily pass on to someone else by teaching it or putting it into a database or a book. Explaining your company’s safety protocols to a new team member is demonstrating explicit knowledge.
  • Tacit knowledge is less quantifiable. It’s when you know that your company’s best client won’t make a deal unless you go golfing with her – or when you know that your department’s most reliable supplier is the smallest one, but only if you place your order by the 15th of every month. This is knowledge that’s most often learned by experience. It’s the stuff you know, but don’t necessarily know that you know.
  • 80% of knowledge used at work is tacit.

Benefits of Knowledge Management

The major benefit of knowledge management is the sharing and transfer of information among staff members, so knowledge isn’t lost when someone goes on vacation, gets sick, or leaves the company.

Because ideas can be shared easily, knowledge management has a high return on investment; it can lead to increased collaboration, productivity, innovation and help create better customer relationships. Knowledge management gives people the knowledge they need to do their jobs better.