Sustainably competitive and successful organisations derive significant levels of competitive advantage from systems that create, document, store, update and disseminate the knowledge they have, or in other words, from knowledge management systems.

 

In this short video (2 mins 3 secs), UCQ’s module lead for New Technologies, Fiona Urquhart, gives her view on why effective knowledge management is so important for organisational success.

 

As Fiona discusses, understanding the difference between explicit and tacit knowledge, is important; the former being obtainable through reading books, manuals, websites, and formal instruction etc Tacit knowledge, however, is subconsciously developed over time through the interactions between people and their environments and may be described as “know how”, or even intuition.

A particularly difficult aspect for businesses when trying to manage tacit knowledge, is that by its nature, it is not easily written down, or expressed in words, and so typically “goes with the person”; when a key individual with high levels of tacit knowledge leaves, so does their “know how”, and a resulting loss of competitive advantage can occur.

A few examples of how businesses can stimulate the sharing of tacit knowledge might include:

  • Develop social networks and platforms with the specific purpose of sharing knowledge and solving problems. Build knowledge eliciting Q&A into organisational, team and individual discussions. Introduce a mentoring programme which encourages senior employees to share their knowledge with more junior staff members.
  • Incentivise high quality knowledge sharing through initiatives such as Service Innovation Panels (SIPs). Reward suggestions which add significant value to the organisation such as an X% increase/decrease in revenue, new products, cost, engagement, defects, wastage etc
  • Leadership should tirelessly work to create and maintain a culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing, give their own knowledge in order to encourage and receive that of others. Make it clear to see, and believable, that “we are all in this together”, paint a picture which shows that if the business does well, we all do well, and live up to any promises made in this respect.

The following Manager’s Quick Guides, may be useful when thinking about developing the foundations of an effective knowledge management system: