At the present time, capacity to manage knowledge is very crucial. Knowledge Management comprises a range of practices used by individual and organisation to identify, create, represent, and distribute knowledge. It has been an established discipline for past few years with a body of university courses and both professional and academic journals dedicated to this area. Knowledge is increasingly being viewed as an intellectual asset for individual and organisation.
History of KM: Though it had earlier antecedents, the concept of Knowledge Management (KM), as we now know it, evolved as a concept in the late 1980s. The term originated in the consulting community. It arose from the merger of two factors: the recognition of the importance to an organisation of its information and knowledge assets, and from the emergence of the Internet and the almost immediate recognition of the utility of the Internet as an information and knowledge sharing tool, particularly for geographically dispersed organisations.Knowledge management: Knowledge is the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. Knowledge management is the name of a concept, strategies and processes designed to identify, capture, structure, value, leverage, and share an organisation's intellectual assets to enhance its performance and competitiveness. It consists of the initiatives, processes, strategies, and systems that sustain and enhance the storage, assessment, sharing, refinement, and creation of knowledge.
In other words, Knowledge Management is the discipline of enabling individuals, teams and entire organisations to collectively and systematically create, share and apply knowledge, to better achieve their objectives. Hence, knowledge management implies a strong tie to personal and organisational goals and strategy. It involves the management of knowledge that is useful for some purpose and which creates value for individual and organisation.
These knowledge characteristics include the following:
► Using knowledge does not dispose of
► Transferring knowledge does not result in reducing
► Knowledge is plentiful, but the ability to use it is limited► Organisation’s valued knowledge walks out the door at the end of the day
Major types of knowledge:
Tacit: Unwritten, unspoken, and hidden vast storehouse of knowledge held by practically every normal human being, based on his or her emotions, experiences, insights, intuition, observations and internalized information. Tacit knowledge is integral to the entirety of a person's consciousness, is acquired largely through association with other people, and requires joint or shared activities to be imparted from on to another. Hence, the knowledge that people do not get from being taught, or from books, however, get from personal experience, for example when working in a particular organisation.
Explicit: Explicit knowledge is knowledge that can be readily articulated, codified, accessed and verbalized. It can be easily transmitted to others. Explicit knowledge is academic knowledge or defined in formal language, print or electronic media, frequently determined by established work processes. Explicit knowledge is cautiously codified, saved in a database and it is accessed with high quality, dependable, fast information access systems. Examples of explicit knowledge are manuals, documents, procedures, and videos.
Concept analysis technique: Concept analysis is an established technique used in the social sciences (i.e., philosophy and education) in order to derive a formula that in turn can be used to generate definitions and descriptive phrases for highly complex terms. We still lack a consensus on knowledge management, related terms, and these concepts do appear to be complex enough to merit the concept analysis approach. A great deal of conceptual complexity derives from the fact that a word such as knowledge is necessarily subjective in nature, not to mention value laden in interpretation.
From physical assets to knowledge:Assets Knowledge has increasingly become more valuable than the more traditional physical or tangible assets. Examples of intellectual assets, which generally refer to an organisation’s recorded information, and human talent where such information is typically either inefficiently warehoused or simply lost, especially in large, physically dispersed organisations.
Library and information science perspectives on KM: People aimed at helping to capture tacit knowledge by turning personal knowledge into corporate knowledge that can be widely available and shared through the library and applied appropriately.
KM important today: Today’s work environment is more complex due to the increase in the number of subjective knowledge items we need to attend to every day, hence, KM lie in:
Globalization of business: Organisations today are more global, multisite, multilingual, and multicultural
Leaner organisations:Doing more and doing faster, however, need to work smarter as knowledge workers increased and the workload
Corporate amnesia:More mobile as a workforce, which creates problems of knowledge continuity for the organisation, and places continuous learning demands on the knowledge worker, no longer expect to work for the same organisation for the entire career
Technological advances: More connected, information technology advances have made connectivity not only universalalso radically changed expectations: expected to be on at all times and the turnaround time in responding is now measured in minutes, not weeks
KM for individuals, communities and organisations: Some critical KM challenges are to manage content effectively, facilitate collaboration, and help knowledge workers connect, find experts, and help the individual and organisation to learn to make decisions based on complete, valid, and well-interpreted data, information, and knowledge.
In order for knowledge management to succeed, it has to tap into what is important to knowledge workers, what is of value to them and to their professional practice as well as what the organisation stands to gain.
KM as human resource development or human talent development:The human resource or human talent development approach focuses on the development of personal capacities, as individuals are seen as the main carrier of knowledge. It comprises methods such as technical, management and personal trainings, appraisal talks, formulating personal goals.
KM as organisational approach: Knowledge management in organisations from three perspectives, each with different horizons and purposes: Business perspective Focusing on why, where, and to what extent the organisation must invest in or exploit knowledge. Strategies, products and services, alliances, acquisitions, or divestments should be considered from knowledge-related points of view. Management perspective Focusing on determining, organizing, directing, facilitating, and monitoring knowledge-related practices and activities required to achieve the desired business strategies and objectives
KM best way to transfer knowledge: Knowledge transfer can be as simple as dropping a pre-existing document into a content repository, or it can involve time-intensive activities such as meetings to capture lessons learned from a project or interviews with experts to document how they apply their knowledge to make crucial decisions. There are no one “right way” to transfer knowledge, but we recommend asking four questions to help you decide on the right approach for each situation.
Knowledge Management typically tied to individual and organisational objectives such as improved performance, competitive advantage innovation, lessons learnt transfer and the general development of collaborative practices. The best strategy is to cultivate a positive attitude toward knowledge sharing and collaboration while building capabilities for KM.
The writer is an Assistant Professor at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University, Gopalganj