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How to use Knowledge management to generate results for organizations

13/04/2020

Do you want to make your organization more profitable? Have a difficulty to introduce continuous improvement through knowledge management? Find out the answers in this post.

In this article you will realize how knowledge management can add value to your organization. It improves your results through 5 important elements:

  • Improved productivity.
  • More agile and lean processes
  • Waste reduction
  • Continuous improvement through knowledge management
  • Increased quality of delivery with customer focus

However, before we get the answers to these problems, we need to understand the context of knowledge management.

Context

The management of knowledge is not at all a new term. His first appearances were in the 1970s in the literature of great management theologians such as Peter Drucker, Peter Senge and Leonard-Barton.

However, the term remains even more current in a world where the amount of knowledge, information and disseminated data increases more and more every day. Still, data and information don’t consider knowledge until we know how to extract the value of it.

Thus, there are many definitions about what is in fact knowledge management. Yet, there is also no consensus on what pure knowledge is.

According to experts, theologians and professionals who today apply knowledge management in organizations, it is already possible to elaborate more current and definitive concepts on the subject. Follow along with what we define as knowledge management.

Knowledge management: conceptual evolution

After the first approaches in the 1970s, the term began to gain its current definition. The consulting firm McKinsey coined the term in 1987 in an internal study. This study considered the treatment and use of information in organizations.

A few years later, in 1993, an event organized by Ernerst and Young in Boston, USA addressed knowledge management once again. This was the first time the concept became public.

A year later, in a scientific article, Tom Davenport, one of the great references on the subject, says that: “knowledge management is the process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge”. According to news reports of the time, Tom came to that definition while attending that conference in Boston.

In 1998 the Gartner Group added new elements to it. Bryant Duhon, a Gartner consultant, says the assets involved in the process include databases, documents, policies, procedures, and prior experiences of a company’s employees.

The current definition

Thus, knowledge management refers to a multidisciplinary practice that meets the objectives of each organization through the best use of knowledge. Since 1991, knowledge management has become an established discipline covering several professional areas, such as:

  • Business Administration
  • Cognitive sciences
  • Information systems
  • Management
  • Librarianship
  • Information science
  • Computer science
  • Public Health
  • Public Policy

This multidisciplinary scope is also present in many of the large companies, public institutions and NGOs. They often have internal efforts dedicated to information management. It is usually part of departments such as business strategies, human resources and information technology. Therefore, this theme is always up to date and remains extremely important to all organizations. But how to implement the concept implemented in organizations?

Knowledge management in organizations

According to the video below, produced by KMT,  management is best applied within organizations where knowledge can be divided and combined when there is interaction between employees of the company.

Therefore, the scope of knowledge management incorporates: strategic aspects. That is, what kind of knowledge is needed to compete in the short and long term; understand what knowledge the company already holds and where it can be found; promote the right knowledge, for the right people, at the right time; ensure that valuable knowledge is not lost and, finally, create an environment where new and relevant knowledge can be developed.

With this, the deficiency of a clear definition of what is knowledge is supplied in the daily practice of companies. Therefore, the effort of knowledge management must be directly associated with the objectives of each organization, as stated above. Some of the most common goals are:

  • Achieve an improvement in performance
  • Gain a competitive advantage
  • Facilitating innovation
  • Share lessons learned
  • People integration and continuous improvement

In this sense, it is necessary to realize that knowledge management not only incorporates new knowledge. It also includes the sharing, storage and refinement of it. The overall objective, therefore, is to create value, leverage and refine the company’s knowledge assets in order to meet the specific objectives of each company.

The dimensions of knowledge

source: KMT

The effective implementation of knowledge management in an organization is closely linked to the organization’s strategy, as seen previously, making the assets of knowledge meet the tactical and strategic requirements. Therefore, it requires an integration and articulation of its 5 dimensions illustrated in the image above and explained below:

  1. Organizational culture: when organizational culture is established and strong, it provokes people’s collaboration, knowledge sharing, learning and socialization. When this does not occur, either by resistance to change or simply refusal to follow these principles, knowledge management is compromised.
  2. Organizational processes: when processes are aligned enough, with aligned environments and systems, people can share knowledge, learn and innovate. This helps in detecting and categorizing knowledge.
  3. Management and leadership: knowledge management requires competent and experienced leaders at all levels of the organization. In order to transfer knowledge and incorporate into the company, it is necessary to have a leadership functions related to the managements of knowledge such as managers and brokers.
  4. Technology: It is necessary to transmit coded knowledge to whoever needs it at the most appropriate time. It is the technology infrastructures that support the environments and processes involved. Therefore, it meets the company’s requirements when properly designed and implemented.
  5. Policies: Long-term needs to support and sustain actions involving the various functions of the company. Sometimes some of these solutions can be expensive to implement and may not have a noticeable impact on return on investment.

This representation and division of the 5 dimensions is by far the only possible model for presenting what is contained in knowledge management. As the study around the term as well as its applications evolved, other ways of addressing the issue were emerging. The most important and what is considered the heart of knowledge management is the participation of people and human interactions in this process.

The advantages of knowledge management

The dimensions and definitions explained in the paragraphs above constructed people and their interrelations. Therefore, it is possible to perceive some advantages in the implementation of knowledge management by organizations.

  • Leverages the specialties in the team
  • Fosters innovation and learning of the organization
  • Achieves short development cycles
  • Improves decision-making
  • Improves customer service by simplifying response time
  • Leverage revenues by bringing products and services quickly to market
  • Solves intractable problems
  • Assists in the management of assets and intellectual capital of the workforce
  • Reduces operating costs by eliminating redundancy and waste with unnecessary processes
  • Prevents rework
  • Reuse ideas, experiences and documents
  • Facilitates the search for information and resources
  • Communicates important information broadly and quickly
  • Allows the organization to leverage its size

As can be seen, the list of benefits is extensive and of high value for the productivity of work teams of all organizations. In summary, with a creative approach to knowledge management, it is also possible to improve the efficiency of services and considerably increase revenue in any functional area of the company.

Summarizing

Thus, knowledge management began in the universe of business consulting, but eventually expanded and applies in various branches of the business tissue. Therefore, there are numerous definitions for the term, as well as different approaches regarding its dimensions and strategies.

This article, therefore, does not intend to exhaust the theme, but rather to offer an overview of what is one of the most important assets of an organization.

Through its exquisite advantages, it is clear the power of learning, knowledge sharing, socialization and consequently human interactions for knowledge management.

If this text was useful to you and your business, share with everyone you believe can also benefit from the lessons you’ve learned from it.

Diogo Mattos

Co-founder and Marketing Coordinator

Blindagem de Processos