Saturday, September 2, 2017

CIOs as “Chief Information Officer”: Three Digital Information/Knowledge Management Principles

Everything exists in a constant state of change and knowledge of an evolving thing must evolve with the thing at the faster pace.

Digital organizations are information overloading and knowledge abundant, but very few of them are truly running the digital-savvy, high-intellectual business. IT plays a critical role in information management to ensure the right people getting the right information to make the right decisions timely. CIOs as “Chief Information Officer”: How to set digital information/knowledge management principles and develop the best and next practice to keep information flow, knowledge flow, and therefore business flow?

Information/ Knowledge Management is a business or human problem, not a technological problem: Information does not live alone but permeates to everywhere in the businesses. Information potential directly impacts the business's potential of the organization. The art and science of information management are to optimize its usage and achieve its multidimensional value and full potential. Information/knowledge management is a business & human problem, not a technological problem. Thus, the value of information is not isolated. IT should first work to identify how information is associated with the valued tangibles of businesses, products, and resources, how to refine information into knowledge and capture the unique business insight. From knowledge management perspective, look at the organizational structure to figure out where in the organization the requested expertise might be sitting - part of taking knowledge seriously as a corporate asset involves assigning responsibility for knowledge within the organization, both maintaining and improving knowledge flow. Digital is the age of people, the focus of information/knowledge management should focus on solving people-centric business issues, not just technological problems. Information is the means to the end, not the end itself.

You can't resolve the 21st-century problems with the mindsets shaped half-century ago: In the last couple of decades, the world has moved from the industrial age with knowledge scarcity to the digital era with information abundance; from the siloed society to the hyper-connected internet economy. The problems emerging today is also totally different from a couple decades ago. Hence, you can’t solve the 21st-century problems with the mindsets shaped half-century ago. Because people’s mindsets have been shaped by education, culture, historical events happened in their lifetime, their growth environment, the books and media they choose to follow, the “mainstream” mindset of the leaders in their era. Therefore, a human’s mindset is somewhat boxed, which categorizes all phenomena in a number of boxes that are based on individual experience and cognizance. As Albert Einstein wisely put: ""We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." It needs a different mindset with updated knowledge, holistic thinking, and multidimensional intelligence to solve either existing or emergent problems radically nowadays. Knowledge is power. From an information/knowledge management perspective, it is crucial that you value education/continuous learning, both in the informal and formal way. Knowledge needs to be updated and managed more systematically. Knowledge informs us as to what choices are available. Understanding is the key to all doors. Wisdom tells you which doors to enter, and which ones NOT to enter. Questioning/challenging long-held beliefs or conventional wisdom is hard work and is often met with resistance. But, isn't that how change comes about and how information/knowledge management fit to the business purpose.

One’s knowledge is the other person’s information only, knowledge becomes outdated sooner than you thought, but insight and wisdom is timeless: There is no hard asset that you can buy today that will guarantee the success of your organization, data, information, knowledge, and wisdom are the different stages of information lifecycle that organizations need to manage more effectively. Either individuals or organizations evolve digital with the different speed, and they are also reaching the different stage of knowledge life cycle. One’s knowledge is the other person’s information only. Knowledge has a much-shortened life cycle due to the exponential growth of information and the increasing speed of changes. Digital knowledge management will enable not only information flow and knowledge flow, but more importantly, it will empower the mind flow, and transform the modern business from static to dynamic; from mechanic to innovative. In reality, perhaps in many organizations, there seems to be the "expectation" that if you have a great business in one place and it's working ok, then knowledge, ideas, solutions, and advice will easily transfer and that piece of the jigsaw will fit snugly into somewhere else. At today’s global business setting with unprecedented complexity and uncertainty, “It works here so it just has to work over there too" may not hold true when you factor in cultural aspects and local market conditions. Knowledge management is about understanding the whole meaning of languages and cultures. Working in multicultural and global environments and organizations, they need to develop their own language, to make the proper framing in order to access the process of understanding each other easily. Knowledge has its limitation, but insight can encircle the world more freely.

Everything exists in a constant state of change and knowledge of an evolving thing must evolve with the thing. The only thing anyone can truly know is themselves and even we grow and change every day. Managing information and knowledge becomes more critical than ever in the digital era, the static and siloed information/knowledge approach is too slow to adapt to the changes and dealing with exponential information growth. This requires a holistic look at the entire knowledge environment and identifies how the information management initiative aligns with the company or business unit objectives, to improve communication, collaboration, and overall organizational maturity.


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