Why do knowledge management efforts get started? Read on for five typical initial reasons and five more enduring reasons.
- An outside consultant advises management to start formally sharing knowledge, form communities of practice, implement an enterprise social network, or undertake some other initiative which is in vogue. Management has decided to take this advice and assigns someone to get it started, who is told to work with the consultant as the internal program manager.
- A senior leader heard or read about knowledge management or social media and thinks their organization should be doing it. A person or team is given the task of investigating it further.
- An organization has some knowledge-sharing processes or tools and wants to coordinate them into a coherent program. An individual volunteers or is asked to take the lead.
- Competitors are known for their KM efforts, and an organization wants to keep up with them. A senior leader challenges someone to come up with an initiative as good as or better than what the competition is doing.
- Members of an organization have complained that it is difficult to share what they know, innovate or invent, find information or locate content to reuse, collaborate with colleagues, or learn from others. A visionary who is passionate about improving on the status quo takes on the challenge of addressing these concerns.
Here are five more enduring reasons. Knowledge management enables an organization to better:
- Share what has been learned, created, and proved to allow others to learn from the experience of the organization and reuse what has already been done. This provides a supply of knowledge.
- Innovate by being more creative, inventive, and imaginative, resulting in breakthroughs from bold new ways of thinking and doing. This creates new knowledge.
- Reuse what others have already learned, created, and proved to save time and money, minimize risk, and be more effective. This creates a demand for knowledge.
- Collaborate with others to yield better results, benefit from diverse perspectives, and tap the experience and expertise of many other people. This allows knowledge to flow at the time of need, creates communities, and takes advantage of the strength in numbers.
- Learn by doing, from others, and from existing information to perform better, solve and avoid problems, and make good decisions. Learning is the origin of knowledge.
For more specific reasons for starting a KM program, see:
Planning a KM initiative includes determining who will participate, which processes and tools are required, and how tools should be integrated.
Starting a KM program includes defining participants and roles, which basic processes are required, and how tools should support people and processes.
Knowledge managers should enlist support from top leaders in order to ensure the success of a KM implementation; 10 commitments to ask for
KM guru Stan Garfield provides specific examples of challenges and opportunities and how to turn them into knowledge management program objectives.