Monday, March 9, 2015

Digital Master Tuning #53: What are the Key Factors in Knowledge Management

Knowledge is the power, so empower your employees.
Business is going through a period of huge disruption due to the accelerating speed of changes and the emergent digital technology, and business life cycle is significantly shortened. Knowledge is without a doubt one of the most valuable and most poorly managed asset in business today. It is worthy of massive amounts of attention and resources. However, knowledge now is also like a perished food, easy to get expired, so knowledge cannot be managed based on traditional asset management discipline, it is not about control, but about flow, to capture insight and wisdom from it. More specifically, what are the key factors in managing knowledge successfully?

The insightful leaders are critical to manage knowledge flow. Knowledge can not be managed like those other hard assets. More attention needs to be placed on the conditions that allow knowledge to flow and generate value rather than try to manage ("control") knowledge like it is a thing that can benefit from that type of intervention. And to enable knowledge flow, the role and vision of leadership, is absolutely essential. KM needs to be taken from the hands of folks interested in document management and social media which are merely sidebars to the real conversations and put in the hands of peoples with the power and insights to make the right things happen. You need the right kind of leadership to make things happen. In its absence, making KM work is almost impossible and therefore likely to fail, no matter how shiny your "KM model" is.

Being successful at KM requires an advanced set of skills: The right sets of skills are not that easy to come by, which complicates being able to successfully implement and embed KM in an organization. Unfortunately few organizations do this well. The current rage is to lead from the center to control everything. Of course this is directly contradictory to the theories of employee engagement which stress autonomy, mastery and a sense of purpose. The other pitfall of Knowledge Management is that the focus of management is on "efficiency," most staff have their heads down looking for pennies to save. They therefore cannot see the disruption bus running straight at them.

The business purpose of Knowledge Management is to connect ideas, but also people: An essential role for Knowledge Management is the need to connect ideas but also people, and crucially management; coach them and many others in organizing their personal knowledge mastery and collectively engaging with others and making decisions. While some leaders may embrace the importance of innovation, collective thinking, intangible assets etc, but not many are thinking of, let alone good at mastering their own information items, knowledge flows, learning processes. Knowledge Management falls into a big picture category which is not what most knowledge managers are doing.

Knowledge Management needs to be well embedded into the key business processes to shape a culture of learning: Knowledge Management goes well beyond leadership, it actually extends to the culture of the company. Because at the end of the day what you want is companies that are capable of mobilizing all the ideas, experiences, capacities of everyone in the company and partners to a) adapt to ever-changing challenges and b) anticipate some of the big things that may turn up, be adaptive, agile, 'in the flow'...

As companies around the world transform themselves into digital business that is based on ‎information, their ability to explore intangible assets has become far more decisive than their ‎ability to invest in and manage physical assets. It needs visionary leaders who treat knowledge like any other invaluable tangible assets, but also manage it differently in order to keep it flow; it is important to practice “lesson learned” or intangible asset management, but more importantly, to integrate knowledge management into the information management life cycle, with the focus on empowering employees, enabling them to get the right knowledge at the right time to make the right decision. Knowledge is the power, so empower your employees.
Digitalization is like a flywheel, and Digital Masters are the one riding above it. Surf more Information about Digital Master:


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