2Know Magazine: Sharing KM Knowledge
2Know: Sharing KM Knowledge
October 2017 - Magazine No. 217
October 2017 - Magazine No. 217
Edition:

Over a decade ago, we relocated to the US on behalf of my husband's job. We settled down in a nice and quiet suburb of Boston and began to view the local customs. It quickly became clear to us that it was socially requisite to maintain an aesthetically pleasing front-lawn garden. The well-kept gardens stood out as it was quite obvious they were the result of professional gardening. Said gardener would indeed appear once a week bearing pruning, planting, and general gardening equipment. Most gardens also bore a small sign (located at the garden's corner) giving credit to the gardening company which performed this impressive work of landscaping.

 

You might rightfully ask yourself "what does this description have anything to do with Knowledge Management?" Well, KM is actually quite similar to gardening. One can maintain a fine garden without requiring the services of a professional gardener; however, any garden will aesthetically benefit from professional treatment.

In organizational terms, who is the ‘gardener’ whose contribution to organizational knowledge is so vital?

Content experts are responsible for distributing professional knowledge and information in their respective fields to all users in their unit/organization, usually via organizational portal. This position involves a number of activities:

  • Identifying users' needs- an ongoing activity performed daily in order to address the most needs in the most appropriate time and fashion.
  • Creating and entering contents- whether the content is actually written by the expert or is composed by another party, its quality is the content expert's full responsibility. This responsibility involves various activities, such as:
    • Creating and/or editing content according to user needs
    • Keeping the content current
    • Obtaining professional authorization from a professional authority, such as: management, legal consultants, intra-organizational communication, etc.
    • Entering the content in its relevant location throughout the portal/website
    • Advertising and marketing content and receiving feedback
    • Writing and editing content according to rules of web writing
    • Choosing a dialect suitable for the target audience
    • Updating and refreshing content frequently
    • Improving data items in light of user feedbacks.

In order to ‘fertilize’ organizational knowledge, multiple gardeners are preferable. These content experts must be enthusiast well-versed in this content.

 

Returning to our gardening allegory, a content expert can take organizational KM more than a step further, not unlike the way a professional gardener transforms a mediocre garden to an outstanding one. Content experts make sure that existing content looks better, is more clearly comprehensible, and by and large generates a positive atmosphere.

 

In order for content experts to perform optimally, it is highly advised to foster them. Since their position is usually merely a practical addition to their job lacking of any executive authority or additional compensation, it vital that this position is perceived as prestigious.

This can be done in several ways, including:

  • Content expert forum: formulating a forum that will meet periodically and will serve as the pinnacle of organizational Knowledge Management. This forum will serve as fertile ground (another gardening metaphor) for peer learning and shared professional enrichment which will in turn enable content experts to present their work to their co-workers.
  • Peer-learning: initiating a learning process which will take place in the aforementioned group. This sort of learning contributes to mutual growth and enhances the content experts' sense of belonging to an elite group which in turn boosts each individual's motivation to excel in his/her respective field.
  • Professional enrichment: either technological or methodological. This enrichment can involve implementing new methodologies and processes and to invite guest speakers to impart further knowledge on KM activities taking place in other organizations.
  • Presenting content experts' work: sharing databases and their methods of handling as well as developing the appropriate channels for collaborations.
  • Technological development: a periodical collection of technological requirements shared by all content experts in order to coordinate further activities with IT.
  • 'Field trips' to similar organizations, thus exposing experts to various KM solutions and introducing them to colleagues in the field of Knowledge Management.

All activities mentioned above contribute to the development of a sense of value and status and provide the content experts with a platform through which they can share the hardships and challenges the position involves, learn from the experience of others, develop their acquaintance with other content experts and create new knowledge. This platform supports both these 'gardeners' feeling that the organization is investing resources in their professional growth and clarifies the precise definition of this position.

 

 If we implement even a fraction of these recommendations, we will surely lead to further professionalization of our 'gardeners' thus upgrading our entire organization's 'garden' which contains organizational-professional knowledge that benefits the entire neighborhood (i.e. the organization).

 

 

Written By Alla Perlov

The data technology revolution has shifted the previous social paradigms regarding individuals and organizations’ ability to connect to each other from nearly any location. Nowadays, an increasing number of organizations view honing communicational skills as a requisite for success and real time data transmission. On the other hand, organizations' need for professional and innovative knowledge is unchanging. In order to demonstrate the contrast between the dynamism of material transfer and the will to retain data and learning skills I refer you to a known trend from the field of career management: it is not uncommon for employees to leave their workplace every number of years. This phenomenon raises a dilemma among managers of large corporations: how can organizational knowledge be retained despite the high turnover of professionals possessing much knowledge with which they transfer to other organizations.


In the introduction to Knowledge Management in Theory and Practice, author Kimimz Dalkir characterizes Knowledge Management as a structured, consistent and methodical process which enables complex construction, management and transfer of knowledge in organizations. This optimizes work processes through learning lessons and reproducing successes, in turn decreasing organizational costs. Again, the logic leading the work of knowledge managers in organizations is that of collecting and retaining, described by Dalkir as "save it, it may prove useful sometime in the future".


Currently, most organizations choose to invest in setting up online knowledgebases and designated websites for material storage. These tools are usually managed by "Knowledge Managers" and are thus usually not visible to most workers. I believe that focusing on technical aspects of organizational knowledge storage and documentation isolates the issue of KM as an organizational matter and in practice leads to a state of no competition, growth and learning on behalf of the organization as a whole. The central question is whether exclusively using technological tools is indeed enabling organizations to retain knowledge?


Obviously, each organization has its own needs, considerations and style of work. That said, the emergence of social media has brought a new meaning to the term "share". People share and upload millions of pieces of information in various shapes and sizes on a daily basis believing that sharing connects and generates possibilities. In this stage, more and more voices are being heard in favor of sharing the knowledge held by organizations, especially large, multi-department corporations in which workers of different divisions do not meet throughout the ongoing work routine.

 

According to the above, it is understood that the goal of these organizations in all KM activities in general, and more specifically in knowledge sharing activities, is to attain a state of knowledge implementation on both organizational and individual level, i.e. making optimal decisions in the organization by utilizing its knowledge. This goal implies that knowledge retaining processes must be upgraded and transformed into intellectual capital. Various studies use specific terms to refer to different stages of the overall process of organizational learning: knowledge transfer, knowledge sharing, implementation, etc.

According to Wang and Noe (2010), knowledge Sharing is a valuable professional asset for organization which serves as a tool allowing employees to affect knowledge and innovation development processes and enhance the organization's competitive abilities in today's market. Knowledge sharing is a learning process for all organization workers and as such is more complex than individual learning processes. Organizations are comprised of many individuals, each holding knowledge that can leverage the organization as whole. Therefore, as part of the organizational knowledge management process, the organization must motivate personal knowledge sharing and personal learning processes in the organization. Paired together, these processes can serve as a basis for growth and learning of the entire organization.
Although organizations are supportive and despite the comfortable technological platform which enables this, a large portion of organization workers refrain from sharing their knowledge.


Studies claim that awareness to cooperation in the field of knowledge and said technological platform are insufficient for creating a knowledge sharing-based organizational culture. This approach cites that the missing component is reward or an incentive system intended to compensate workers for sharing their personal and professional knowledge. Professional knowledge, especially tacit knowledge, is usually viewed as something very personal that as such must remain sheltered from the organizational environment.


In other words, people are scared to expose their professional and personal knowledge so as to not give up the advantage they may hold over other workers. Therefore, besides creating a supportive learning environment, generating a sense of trust between workers is vital, nay crucial for the success of this process. This is the reason that businesses and social organizations are both beginning to believe in the importance of "socialization" between workers and require communication skills when recruiting as part of the job requirements as well as invest substantial resources in designing open, comfortable work spaces which encourage casual meetings between co-workers.

References
Dalkir, K. (2005). Knowledge management in theory and practice
Wang, S. & Noe, R. (2010). Knowledge sharing: A review and directions for future research. Human Resources Management Review, 20 (2), June, pp. 115–131.

 

 

Digital Leadership is a vital component in organizations' attempt to become a digital market-leading force thus attaining a competitive advantage over competition. Studies have shown that companies defined as digital leaders have displayed improved performance compared to other organizations:

 

This process has introduced a new position to many organizations; the CDO (Chief Digital Officer) who is responsible for implementing professional and organizational knowledge efficiently using leading digital tools such as knowledge videos, smart documents and presentations, portals, social networks, infographics, etc.

A CDO is characterized by four central properties: vision, involvement, governance and a strong connection to the IT unit.

  1. Vision
  2. Each department's CDO must be familiar with the organization's policy on the matter.
  3. CDOs should define their course of action according to organization policies and objectives for themselves as well as for the organization/department.
  4. Employee involvement in the change process is a perquisite for successful Digital leadership:
  5. Employees must understand the vision and the objectives of the transition of work methods. Moreover, they must believe in this change.
  6. The CDOs must make an effort to explain their methods and goals in order to clarify matters to everyone.
  7. The CDOs must be open to receiving new ideas/insights.
  8. Governance:

A CDO must define clear rules of governance, make decisions regarding projects that require digital tools, define the benefits of using a digital tool, prioritize tasks, be involved in decision making processes regarding investments in digital technologies, track progress in various projects and evaluate success.

  1. A good interface with IT:

Both CDO and IT unit should learn to converse in the other part's lingo. The CDO should become acquainted with the world of IT and the IT personnel should learn to speak in business terms in order to explain how these digital tools/technologies may enhance performance.

 

If you think your organization innovation should be promoted via a more extended use of advanced digital tools and are interested in leapfrogging in this particular field, we suggest the following steps:

  1. Review: does your organization have a clear organization digital vision to which one can connect via carious activities in the organization?
  2. Develop a work plan: define when, where and what range is it most advisable to start promoting digitalism and develop a work plan accordingly.
  3. Appoint CDOs: chart all organization employees who possess advanced digital/technological skills and the aforementioned perquisite virtues. Train the CDOs via a training program including practical experience.
  4. Together with the CDOs, map the daily challenges and seek to understand which digital tools are potentially beneficial, i.e. would assist company workers in performing their job more easily and quickly (consider three levels: individual workers, each department, the organization as whole).
  5. Establish a leaders' community by setting up a CDO network which enables shared learning of digital solutions as well as collaborations and promoting digital matters among workers and edge clients.
  6. Spread the word: Make an effort to ensure that workers are familiar with the new functionaries and their ability to assist and enhance their work processes when necessary (emails, tutorials, portals and all organizational means of communication).
  7. Evaluate success: review constantly in order to inspect whether the change is indeed incorporated and its effects. This can be done through real time feedback; surveys; debriefing; focus groups.

I wish you luck.

 

 

Written by Rom Knowledgeware
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