Using a knowledge directory as an organizational procedure system

Knowledge is power!

But wait… why? What makes knowledge so valuable, and as such- what can we do to retain and utilize it?

Let’s start off with defining the term ‘knowledge’. Knowledge is the result of the accumulation of information held by a conscious being. Knowledge enables its holders to face challenges better and more efficiently to attain its objectives. Thus, correctly and effectively using knowledge, the human race has successfully landed on the moon, developed a vaccine for covid19, appointed prime ministers, etc.

So, if people can retain knowledge and process data, why can’t an organization? Well, who said it can’t? An organization, serving as one or more conscious entity, can certainly create knowledge, retain it, and utilize it to evolve as an organization. This knowledge serves as a main pillar on which the organization relies. The human brain receives, processes and outputs knowledge, then uses it to continuously evolve. Organizations, operating somewhat similarly, have their own brain- namely, the Knowledge Management system.

Not unlike the human brain, current knowledge may not be relevant regarding its scope, details as well as the various information fragments that comprise it. For example, if one would ask for an immediate answer, it would seem unproductive and incorrect to provide a full answer containing all information this individual holds, when all that is required is a simple yes or no.

Let’s say we ask someone at a fast-food stand “would you like this certain topping on your dish?”. It would probably be unwise to answer: “when I was young, and I mean young, probably about… I loved this dish, or so I was told by my mother, until one day I came home feeling a bit queasy. I then took a bite of this same dish, except it now had a different flavor that I disliked. I have tried it since and have never been able to love it again…”

The type of output we this entity provided seems quite important and depends on the situation in which the information is required. Similarly, an organization is sometimes required to provide complete, detailed and based information (regulatory and legal documents, for example). However, some cases call for concise and straightforward information that can offer solutions to those immediately providing service to organization customers.

Large organizations usually have several branches with similar knowledge arrays.

I wish to discuss two of those branches: The organizational procedure system and the service-oriented Knowledge Management system (the knowledge directory).

 

 

The organizational procedure system handles the complete, detailed and accurate knowledge that directs organization workers how to operate. This information can be based on regulation and external laws and/or based on organizational and professional best practices which direct workers how to operate efficiently and usefully.

The service-oriented Knowledge Management system, on the other hand, focuses on how to convert the complete knowledge to concise, interesting and accessible for all organization service providers. Can both branches be combined to one whole system?

What is the objective?

Let’s start from organizational procedures. These procedures are usually discussed in length and not always sufficiently accessible to organization workers so they can secure the “here and now”. Occasionally, the procedures also include processes executed ‘behind the scenes’ by some workers who serve the organization. This knowledge might not be of value to most workers, since they serve in this case as customers, and wish to receive an immediate answer- what to do/ what they are entitled to. These procedures are meant to regulate all organization divisions and departments’ operation uniformly, efficiently, usefully and legally. Some organizations publish their regulations externally as a recommended organizational transparency policy.

Service-oriented systems, on the other hand, are written in simple, clear, straightforward manner that is always action oriented. The organizational knowledge is organized in this system in a manner that any worker that might search for information will find in as less time as possible. Its objective, in most cases, is to serve the organization’s various service providers. Therefore, the time it takes to provide an answer and its accessibility level are both critical.

Who should be handling this task and how?

Organizational procedures are occasionally written by professional workers specializing in the content area the procedure contains or workers specializing in procedure writing. There is usually a template for writing an organizational procedure, yet this license allows a difference between procedures, especially professional ones, both in level of detail and style.

The information in the organizational service-oriented system is nearly always written by knowledge managers or content editors hired for this task only (there organization usually has a KM department). These writers are synchronized with each other regarding the writing method and making it accessible to the organization’s users.

Can the two be combined?

This question requires deep thought and raises questions, such as:

  • Can we write a procedure that includes much information that is irrelevant to the workers that requires fast, simple, and available information?
  • Can we discard certain data?
  • Will the concise, straightforward and action-oriented writing meet the extra/intraorganizational parties both in terms of regulations and legally?
  • Which party will be maintaining the system?
  • How will the information be received by the parties updating the system?

These are only some of the questions that must be asked before executing this maneuver. Answering them might not be simple, and some questions will be able to be answered only while working on the project.

 

In conclusion

Any organization considering using a knowledge directory for writing organizational procedures, must understand that merging these two central branches of organizational knowledge demands a true and honest inspection which considers all implications’ organizational and professional aspects, regarding both the organization and those expected to use the knowledge.

It seems that as any challenge the organization faces, the various organizational parties readily committing and cooperating are the real elements that will allow us to overcome it.

Considering all the above, it is clear than whoever utilizes their knowledge correctly- will possess much power.

 

 
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