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How to Manage Knowledge

        posted by , March 23, 2013

Knowledge management is the continual process of squeezing value from knowledge.

Information isn't knowledge. It can be a long path to transform information into knowledge. It can also be a long path to transform knowledge into business results.

Knowledge management achieves both these objectives. It transforms information into actionable knowledge that drives business results.

Knowledge management is a business practice and process. It's supported by a collection of tools. At the highest level the knowledge management process looks like this:

how to manage knowledge

1. Create & Identify Knowledge

Many organizations are leaking knowledge like a fast sinking rowboat.

The first step to managing knowledge is to identify the knowledge your organization is creating. Programs, projects, initiatives, processes and conversations all generate knowledge.

Knowledge management identifies the critical knowledge that your organization is creating.

2. Validate & Assess

Validate knowledge. For example, does a new research report come from a reputable source?

Assess the business impact of knowledge. For example, what stakeholders need to be informed about a new research report?

3. Secure & Retain

Retain knowledge in an accessible and secure repository. Identify and manage knowledge retention policies. Certain knowledge must be retained for a minimum period of time (and often no longer) for compliance.

Knowledge should be secured according to information security best practices. Information security objectives such as information privacy, confidentiality, integrity, availability and auditability should be incorporated into processes and tools.

4. Organize & Search

Create views and organize knowledge. Provide search tools that help users to discover knowledge.

5. Communicate & Socialize

Processes and tools that communicate and socialize knowledge. These processes feed into knowledge improvement and creation.

6. Combine, Connect & Adapt

Provide knowledge interfaces that allow users to make connections, combine, build upon and adapt knowledge.

7. Continuously Improve

Continuously improve knowledge quality. For example, improve knowledge accuracy, availability and business value.

8. Measure & Report

What is your organization's knowledge worth? How fast is your knowledge growing? Does your knowledge have quality issues? What are your knowledge related risks?

Mature knowledge management processes can be measured. Such measurements are the basis for continual improvement of knowledge.

Knowledge Processes Versus Tools

It's a common myth that knowledge management is a technology. Many organizations purchase a knowledge management tool but fail to integrate it into their processes.

Knowledge management is first and foremost a business practice. Tools should be selected to support knowledge management processes and not the other way around.

That being said, it's difficult to image a knowledge management process succeeding without a few basic tools such as a content repository (e.g. enterprise content management) and a search tool.

Knowledge Management Integration

Knowledge management supports your strategies, decisions, programs, projects, initiatives, conversations and communications. Likewise these business activities feed into knowledge management.

To be effective, knowledge management should be integrated into all business activities. This requires a great deal of executive support.

Some organizations have established knowledge management principles that apply to all business activities. For example, mandating that all documentation is checked into a central repository.

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