More often clients are asking me about knowledge management. Typically when I hear people talk about knowledge management (KM) its a very abridged definition that usually focuses on documents. Well, documents are one aspect but KM is really about PEOPLE, CULTURE, information capture, classification, discovery (creating visibility), reuse and mentoring. Generally the business goal is to capture intelectual property (IP), nurture innovation, create efficiencies through re-use and mentoring and enabling discovery (sometimes refered to a surfacing information).
According to BENTON and GIOVAGNOLI (2005) there are eight steps organizations can take to develop knowledge networks. These steps will assist you in discovering and realizing the power that exists in your organization. The steps are:
  • Identify the people who share their expertise consistently and effectively
  • Create an environment conducive to wisdom sharing
  • Encourage boundary crossing and role breaking in persuit of topics of interest
  • Let it be known that people who shine in groups will achieve organizational stardom
  • Use “magnet topics” to attract the experts, and then support ad hoc groups, teams, and communities that emerge around them
  • Create unconventional meaures to evaluate and reward performance and track the networks impact

Using tools such as those offered by Microsoft (SharePoint, LCS, Linkedin, Exchange etc.) can help get the process started but the people aspect is the most important and often overlooked aspect. For example:

  • How do you get the right people to share the right knowledge on the right topic at the right time?
  • Do you connect them to a state of the art computer network that makes it easy for them to communicate electronically?
  • Do you remove them from their regular jobs and make them knowledge leaders?
  • Because of their skills do you insist on making them work on projects that are critical to the company regsrdless of thier interests?
  • And if the projects are critical to the company but not of the interest to them, can they possibly be contributing their best work?

Taking the steps outlined previously will get you on the way to establishing an nurturing Knowledge Networks.