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Knowledge Management as a tool of Risk Management

1 October 2014
Dr. Moria Levy

In any organization, Risk Management units bear great responsibility. It's not simple to predict possible future events. It’s not simple to choose, when facing different possible risks, which is best to prioritize and invest in its testing. It's certainly not simple to have the risks taken care of and ensure that the organization is indeed in a better place tomorrow. It does not come as a surprise to the reader at this point that monitoring all these aspects is extremely complicated.


Knowledge Management is not a substitute for risk management techniques currently used in organizations. Nevertheless, Knowledge Management can upgrade these issues' treatment due to two main reasons:

  1. It includes orderly work methodologies derived from a discipline complementary to that of risk management, and combining these disciplines provides the organization with a wider view on the world of organizational risk management.

  2. One of the most meaningful resources in any organization active in recent years is the organization's knowledge. This knowledge exists in people's heads (a high risk indeed!), some of it is scattered in different, unshared documents, and some of it may be shared yet is not easily accessible and so people do not use it. Knowledge Management can naturally assist in fixing these malfunctions and as such includes solutions for dealing with several risks, whether by avoiding them or by dealing with risks already discovered.


Hereby are some concrete examples of fields in which Knowledge Management can upgrade the Risk Management Unit's work:


  • Developing models of risk analysis and evaluation: The field of Knowledge Management includes dealing a lot with instilling and developing organizational knowledge. A assisting KM methodology deals with the areas in the field organization in which knowledge exists between officeholders in the field.

  • Risk Detection: There are many orderly risk evaluation methodologies. This methodology is more of a preliminary stage assisting in identifying the risks related to the event, process or activity in the organization. Assisting knowledge Management methodology: a methodology known as the BAR: Before Action Review. This methodology is based on the well-known American model for learning lessons (AAR) and is complementary to it in preparing for future occurrences. This methodology is based on analyzing the desired objective, both according to achieving the goals related to the process/activity/event and in regard to the organization's expectations that the status quo will not be violated: the client will remain satisfied; the regulations will be obeyed, etc. This methodology also includes a stage of relying on the knowledge of the past in order to expand the risk-identification database and discover the best way to deal with these risks.

  • Expert Knowledge Retention: One of the most valuable of any organization is its human resources, specifically-its experts. In the past, organizations relied less on knowledge and thus loss of knowledge due to experts leaving was not as severe whereas nowadays an expert leaving either transferring to another organization or retiring is regarded as a major issue. The PTK (Pass The Knowledge) Knowledge Management methodology can be of assistance in this case. PTK focuses on minimizing the potential organizational harm derived from these experts leaving. This methodology includes three stages: the first stage deals with mapping the expert's central knowledge subjects and prioritizing the subjects in which the organization should invest in retaining; the second stage is an organized process based on templates of documenting and transferring knowledge to the organization; and the last stage in this retaining this knowledge formulating a way to make this knowledge accessible via routine work processes and changing the work method so that from now on most of the knowledge  will be documented during its creation stages.

  • Developing and managing Lessons: Developing lessons is related to the world of events, processes and activities that were already performed sometimes successfully, sometimes less than satisfactory. Producing lessons deals with analyzing the aforementioned and learning from this analysis how to operate better in the future. Using methodologies of knowledge Management, more effective and efficient lessons are produced lessons, and processes are designed to see that this knowledge is indeed used and reused. We create a database of distilled lessons; lessons which we generalized and related to other contexts while specifying them and making them concrete and practical.

These lessons are used for future activities and processes as an immediate tool for preventing risks and duplicating successes.

  • Friendly User Procedures and Guidelines: good procedures are critically important in every organization. They embody the need for regulation as well as the best organizational knowledge regarding best behavior. In most organizations we regretfully encounter highly partial use of procedures, and malfunctions and risk surveys reveal problems derived from hardly working according to procedures. This is why I recommend using a unique method for writing procedures. This method is based on a knowledge map that structures the procedure in the easiest form to read and navigate and enables quite easily to receive answers to specific questions. Writing the procedure/ guideline is based on the technique of concise writing which eases the text's reading level. This combination of improving navigation, accessibility and comprehension assist in increasing the level of potential usage of each procedure.


There are additional examples of ways in which Knowledge management is used in the field of Risk Management. Also here, we should be cautious of inflation. The concluding message is important: KM as a supplement to Organizational Risk Management, and in its current state, it can lead to a leap forward in an important subject which bears great responsibility to the success of an organization.

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