Thursday, January 26, 2012

Knowledge Management


In the recent days, a subject of management by the name 'Knowledge Management' appeared. Knowledge management (KM) is still a relatively young field, with new concepts emerging constantly.


Knowledge management as an idea or practice in the business context must have been there ever since the first business man appeared in the universe.

But in the recent days, a subject of management by the name 'Knowledge Management' appeared. Knowledge management (KM) is still a relatively young field, with new concepts emerging constantly.

KM is the process through which organizations generate value from their intellectual and knowledge-based assets. Knowledge based assets are to be identified. Most often, generating value from such assets involves codifying what employees, partners and customers know, and sharing that information among employees, departments and even with other companies in an effort to devise best practices. Knowledge management process naturally includes creating knowledge based assets in the first place also. It is important to note that the definition says nothing about technology used in knowledge management.

What constitutes intellectual or knowledge-based assets?

Not all information is valuable. Individual companies have to determine what information qualifies as intellectual and knowledge-based assets. In general, however, intellectual and knowledge-based assets fall into one of two categories: explicit or tacit.

Included among the former are books, reports, journals and magazines that are generated by outside agencies. Companies themselves generate explicit knowledge assets such as patents, trademarks, business plans, marketing research and customer lists. As a general rule of thumb, explicit knowledge consists of anything that can be documented and archived.

Tacit knowledge is the know-how contained in people's heads. The challenge inherent in managing tacit knowledge (to make it useful to the organization on a larger scale) is figuring out how to recognize, share and manage it.

At this point of time two distinct categories of tools are available in KM. (i) knowledge management techniques and (ii) knowledge management technologies.

Some of the KM techniques are:

(i) Mentorship programs
(ii) Post mortem meetings
(iii) Regular intra-office or intra-division meetings
(iv) Story telling sessions
(v) Communities of practice
(vi) Centers of excellence

Some of the KM technologies are:

(i) Knowledge storage tools
(ii) Search and retrieval tools
(iii) Collaboration tools
(iv) Communication tools

Researchers at Accenture find that many companies are not getting bottom line results after implementing knowledge management projects.

Researchers at the Accenture Institute for Strategic Change came out with a framework on knowledge management that aims to deliver results to the organization on implementation. This Knowledge Management Framework is based on the premise that the focus should be placed on the way knowledge is used to build the critical capabilities a company needs in order to succeed—on the core processes and activities that enable it to compete. Enhancing a bank's know-how in evaluating credit risk, for example, should result in reduced loan losses; improving a consumer products company's understanding of customer preferences should increase its percentage of successful new products.


Sukhpreet Singh of PGDIM program of NITIE (13th batch) did a project on supporting knowledge management initiative of an automobile company and his report was also used in identifying references and in developing this article.

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Originally posted in k/knowledge-management#
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