Knowledge Management Definition and Solutions

Knowledge Management (KM) topics covering definition, systems, benefits, and challenges.

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Besides using technology, how else can tacit knowledge be transferred?

Shadowing and joint-problem solving are two best practices for transferring or recreating tacit knowledge inside an organization. With shadowing, less experienced staff observe more experienced staff in their activities to learn how their more experienced counterparts approach their work. Dorothy Leonard and Walter Swap, two knowledge management experts, stress the importance of having the "protégé" discuss their observations with the "expert" in order to deepen their dialog and crystallize the knowledge transfer.

Another sound approach that Leonard and Swift recommend is joint problem-solving by expert and novice. Since people are often unaware of how they approach problems or do their work and therefore can’t automatically generate step-by-step instructions for doing whatever they do, having them work together on a project will bring the expert’s approach to light. The difference between shadowing and joint problem solving is that shadowing is more passive. With joint problem-solving, the "expert" and the "novice" work hand-in-hand on a task.

What benefits can companies expect from KM?

Some benefits of KM correlate directly to bottom-line savings, while others are more difficult to quantify. In today's information-driven economy, companies uncover the most opportunities — and ultimately derive the most value — from intellectual rather than physical assets. To get the most value from a company's intellectual assets, KM practitioners maintain that knowledge must be shared and serve as the foundation for collaboration. Yet better collaboration is not an end in itself; without an overarching business context, KM is meaningless at best and harmful at worst. Consequently, an effective KM program should help a company do one or more of the following:

These are the most prevalent examples. A creative approach to KM can result in improved efficiency, higher productivity and increased revenues in practically any business function.

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