It is becoming more apparent that in the post-industrial era, a firm’s success or failure lies in its intellectual assets rather than in its physical assets. The predominance of high skill labour requirements, new computing and telecommunications technologies and an accelerating pace of change has initiated a dramatic shift in the ways companies compete in today’s market place.
Firms are now recognising the need to organise and coordinate their information and knowledge sources in a way that allows them “corporate agility” to be able to sense and respond to constantly changing trends and markets, to encourage creativity and innovation, and to help their employees continuously learn and improve the productivity of their work. A knowledge-based approach to business will be the key to success in this new environment.
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Your company’s intellectual assets – the proprietary knowledge it has developed and accumulated over time – are of critical value. Protecting those knowledge assets is increasingly difficult as senior expertise retires or moves to competitors.
People often confuse Information Management with Knowledge Management (KM). Often it’s an exercise in efficiency, where they try to trim a few people but provide no new economic value. However though, rather than simply use KM to manage information overload and eliminate positions, it should be used to boost revenues by methods such as providing better information for proposals/projects that ultimately result in increased business.
Knowledge Management (KM) is not about technology, it is mostly about people, information, and sharing.
Knowledge Management offers exciting opportunities for transforming companies, however though it is also much harder than it looks to implement; typically not because of the technology, but because of the people.
Current Implementation Issues with Knowledge Management
Despite the obvious advantages of embracing a Knowledge Management culture there are still several common issues which can hinder it’s success:
- Everyone agrees knowledge is key to competitive advantage, but few organisations are effectively managing theirs.
- Executives believe the greatest pay-off from knowledge management will be in innovation, but their efforts to date seem focused on efficiency.
- An organisation’s knowledge advantage depends mostly on people, however organisations don’t have their priorities straight.
Suggested solutions to this issue could encompass:
- mapping sources of internal expertise
- establishing new knowledge roles
- create networks of knowledge workers.
4. A “Chief Knowledge Officer” might play a valuable role in leading knowledge management efforts, however though this might just contribute to bureaucracy.
5. The biggest obstacles to knowledge management are cultural and behavioural issues.
- top management’s failure to signal its importance
- the lack of shared understanding of strategy or business model
- organisational structure
- lack of ownership of the problem
Current Issues with the Training Model
The current approach to training within the company involves business/technical units putting forward individuals for training courses based on pre-set objectives and specific project needs. Often though, booking a specific course will be based on collecting a sufficient group size, thus incurring a delay in training. Furthermore, individuals are often sent on courses that might only be related to a specific/once off project rather than their normal day to day activity/role. As such the return on investment is a poor one
A common shortcoming of classroom training is trying to provide everything there is to know at once, resulting in:
- learner overload (too much information with often little relevance to task at hand.)
- low retention
- learner frustration
- too much cost for too little impact. (give typical cost breakdown)
On the flip side of the coin, key technology units are often hindered from acquiring additional skills though budget constraints. As such they may in turn be losing the edge on developing critical business solutions.
Surely then shouldn’t our existing requirements for training be re-analysed with a view to consolidating our knowledge in-house within key technology areas in order to provide tailored solutions to the various business and technology units.
This leads us back to your suggestion of “Centres of Excellence” whereby training is invested primarily into areas of core competency.
Strong investment into our “Centres of Excellence” will re-enforce the model of Knowledge Management
Following on from this our “Centres of Excellence” would thus provide innovative solutions for our various business/technical clients encompassing:
- Accelerated Solutions Environment (ASE)
- Advanced Development Centre (ADC)
- Centre for Business Knowledge (CBK)
The development of internal training areas focuses on streamlining training content to include only the information required to perform each task effectively.
The chief advantages of such an action lead to:
- Focusing on the mission, job, and role critical tasks.
- Reducing the external labour requirements needed for development and delivery thus reducing our reliance on external consultants keeping in line with the proposed cost initiatives which are being pushed through the organisation.
- Providing useful knowledge “just in time” and easily accessed.
- Reducing learner overload and reduced frustration.
- Achieving greater learner retention, and instilling a desire for continuous learning.
- Continually increasing competency and broadening of skills within the “Centres of Excellence”.
- Creating knowledge workers empowered to improve the business.
In short, consolidating our investment into the key technical centre of excellence will lead to the development of highly skilled in house specialists who can provide tailored information on a timely basis.
Getting people at all levels of the enterprise involved in the KM initiative is a key to its success.
- Establish success metrics early, and have appropriate users and planners check progress against them regularly.
- Get a well-respected champion within the company to advocate the project.
- Make sure that upper management understands the project and is ready to promote it publicly.
- Use e-mail, Web sites and marketing programs to give the program a splashy send-off.
- Make KM skills part of personal performance reviews.
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