It may come as a surprise that knowledge management isn’t simply about paper and electronic resources. Today’s KM systems also capture the information in people’s heads: the tacit knowledge, that when added to explicit knowledge completes the picture. The art and science of KM involves synthesizing the two for maximum impact. Please read on for some tips on how to make it work.
Wikipedia defines KM as the process of capturing, developing, sharing, and effectively using organizational knowledge. KM literature breaks down knowledge into two categories: Explicit Knowledge, which is knowledge that has been codified, and Tacit Knowledge, which most often refers to knowledge in people’s heads.
In an excellent blog post “Social Collaboration Mediated Knowledge Management” Jed Cawthorne explains how social systems can help transform Tacit Knowledge into Explicit Knowledge, thus increasing the body of knowledge that an organization can effectively leverage.
The tacit-explicit cycle
Lucidea offers a Social KM product that enables a multi-stage KM process. In stage one, the information professional organizes and publishes vetted knowledge (Explicit Knowledge). As Jed states, “this type of knowledge has been the focus of IT based knowledge management systems.”
Lucidea’s Presto platform takes several additional steps. In stage two, via social capabilities, it allows the end user community to enhance and inform content by adding social tags, by commenting, and by rating the organized content. This socialization process captures tacit knowledge in employees’ heads and turns it into explicit knowledge. Also, via Presto’s “forums capability” which enables threaded discussions between end users (often on topics beyond vetted and codified content), additional tacit information can be captured by the KM system, and clarified and made richer through social collaboration. By the way, information professionals can tee up forums for the express purpose of filling knowledge gaps, or use them to deliver enhanced services, such as “Ask Your Librarian.”
Additionally, in stage three, we enable the sharing of all this knowledge. Most often sharing is accomplished by emailing links or tags to colleagues calling their attention to interesting content. This brings new users of the system into stage two where they also can enhance and inform the content. We also have a large number of clients using our blogging capability to highlight information and bring key insights to everyone’s attention. (Please note—some customers are reluctant bloggers—so they use the terms “Newsletter” or “Bulletin.”) As Jed’s post points out, this phase is a critical part of the “popular KM model called SECI.” To see the SECI diagram click here.
Jed asks, “Can social collaboration become the real workhorse of KM, enabling the knowledge spiral?” Lucidea’s answer is a resounding YES! We believe social collaboration embedded in a KM system creates what we call a Social Knowledge Network (SKN)—and it is much more powerful than a read-only catalog or a standalone social platform.
We have hundreds of clients using Lucidea SKNs. And we believe the future of KM is already here.
Knowledge managers need independence from IT, independence for users, and secure advocacy at the senior level in order for KM programs to succeed.
KM program independence means it’s not tied to any one function in an organization, can continue to operate, and is funded and supported by leadership
Best practices for KM include independence for users of a knowledge management system; expert advice on excellent UX and self-paced training
KM independence related to technology, users, and the program itself are key to the success of any knowledge management initiative; expert advice