Knowledge management is the systematic management of an organization’s knowledge assets for the purpose of creating value and meeting tactical & strategic requirements; it consists of the initiatives, processes, strategies, and systems that sustain and enhance the storage, assessment, sharing, refinement, and creation of knowledge.
The full scope of knowledge management (KM) is not something that is universally accepted. However, before one looks at the differences in the definitions, let’s the similarities.
KM is about making the right knowledge available to the right people. It is about making sure that an organization can learn, and that it will be able to retrieve and use its knowledge assets in current applications as they are needed. In the words of Peter Drucker it is “the coordination and exploitation of organizational knowledge resources, in order to create benefit and competitive advantage” (Drucker 1999).
Where the disagreement sometimes occurs is in conjunction with the creation of new knowledge. Wellman (2009) limits the scope of KM to lessons learned and the techniques employed for the management of what is already known. He argues that knowledge creation is often perceived as a separate discipline and generally falls under innovation management.
Bukowitz and Williams (1999) link KM directly to tactical and strategic requirements. Its focus is on the use and enhancement of knowledge based assets to enable the firm to respond to these issues. According to this view, the answer to the question “what is knowledge management” would be significantly broader.
A similarly broad definition is presented by Davenport & Prusak (2000), which states that KM “is managing the corporation’s knowledge through a systematically and organizationally specified process for acquiring, organizing, sustaining, applying, sharing and renewing both the tacit and explicit knowledge of employees to enhance organizational performance and create value.”
Under the initiative referred to as “act“, the integrated model outlines a series of knowledge management processes. They will be used as headings for the subsections presented here, and can be accessed through the menu on the left. These are:
- Knowledge Discovery & Detection
- Knowledge Organization & Assessment
- Knowledge Sharing
- Knowledge Reuse
- Knowledge Creation
- Knowledge Acquisition
These form the backbone of knowledge management processes as they outline all aspects involved in the actual management of knowledge.
While the knowledge management processes section dealt with the general ways knowledge can be managed, this section tackles long-term knowledge management strategy. Strategic investments represent the company’s choices/options so as to enable and enhance the processes outlined earlier (e.g. knowledge sharing) and to offer help define which knowledge is relevant (i.e. in line with strategic objectives) and which is not.
This section is based on the strategic part of the integrated knowledge management model, which includes:
- Knowledge management strategic initiatives:
- Invest: Support of existing structures, competencies, knowledge retention mechanisms, culture, external network, and knowledge management systems
- Invest: Implement changes to structures, competencies, knowledge retention mechanisms, culture, external network, and knowledge management systems
- Divest: Remove obsolete knowledge
The articles that follow are based solely on the points under “invest“. Based on that we arrive at the following headings:
- KM and Organizational Structures
- KM and Organizational Culture
- KM and Knowledge Retention
- KM and Core Competencies
- KM and External Knowledge Network
- KM and Knowledge Management Systems
- Summary: Knowledge Management Best Practices