Figure 1: Knowledge lifecycle
A learning culture is essential in an organization and sharing of knowledge is important to ensure this culture. Any person who is willing to learn should have easy access to knowledge. Not all types of knowledge are easy to share: creativity or design thinking can’t be shared but the thinking process behind a specific idea can be shared to help people understand how to think on a similar line or think differently. Some types of knowledge are easy to materialize and share as it contains specific steps like a mathematical equation.
Knowledge Management ensures that the knowledge remains within the organization and helps improve efficiency through sharing of best practices and learnings.
Why is knowledge management important?
Often, most of the knowledge in an organization is undocumented and not accessible. Visibility of information can help employees take well-informed decisions that will directly benefit the organization. Different apps and data structures are used across the organization to store information, which may not be easily understood by other teams to reap its benefits.
Not all of us are good teachers; when it comes to transferring knowledge to our peers, we fail to transfer all the information because we are ourselves unaware of things that we have learnt and have become core to our thinking and decision-making. Due to this, employees spend time recreating all the knowledge that already exists in an organization but have been lost. Same mistakes are made repeatedly, and the organization falls in a cycle of inefficiency that hinders growth and productivity.
An intelligent organization fosters innovation within the organization that benefits their employees and customers by harvesting the knowledge gathered during the organization’s lifetime. In today’s highly competitive environment, it is very important to be as agile as possible and quickly respond to new situations using expertise and intelligence that the organization has gathered over the past.
Organizations often realize the importance of Knowledge management solutions when they merge with another organization and require to share their experience and information for realizing mutual benefits. Even when a key personnel moves out of an organization, management often realizes the need for a solution to store and share information to avoid dependency on any individual.
Knowledge management helps organizations create an efficient workplace where all employees’ knowledge is valued. Collaboration between employees also improves when they share knowledge and it is easier to understand someone’s perspective when the information behind that thought is readily available. All these benefits directly link towards efficient and better decision making in an organization along with improved employee retention.
Knowledge management in the digital age
Digital transformation is changing the entire operating model of organizations. With advancement in technology, employees need to be prepared for more competitiveness as organizations will start rewarding employees based on their ability to perform tasks which machines are not able to do. Previous experience and qualifications of workers would get less weightage. Today’s employees are being shortlisted based on their capability to collaborate with machines having cognitive functions. This makes knowledge management even more meaningful as we become dependent on cognitive machines for highly repetitive and complex work.