To thrive in this environment, businesses need to
rely not only on the data processing capacity of IT but
also on creativity and innovation of people - both
inside and outside the organization.
What is knowledge management
A company is not
a machine, but a living organism. Its blood
is information, its lymph is knowledge.
By the name Knowledge management, methods and software
resources that enable organizing, sharing and
capitalizing business knowledge, company knowledge, are
Knowledge management caters to the critical issues of
organizational adaptation, survival, and competence in
face of increasingly discontinuous environmental change.
It embodies organizational processing capacity of
information technologies, and the creative and
innovative capacity of human beings. It seeks to make
the best use of the knowledge that is available to an
organization, creating new knowledge, increasing
awareness and understanding in the process.
KM in a company is concerned with strategy, processes and technologies to
acquire, store, share and secure organizational understanding, insights and core
distinctions. KM in a company is closely tied to competitive advantage,
innovation and agility. Knowledge is a process (considered by some as
“multilayered and multi-faceted, comprising cognition, actions and resources”),
knowledge management is a concept and a process. knowledge is stored in the
individual brain or encoded in organizational processes, documents, products,
services, facilities and systems. Therefore, knowledge to be managed must be
recorded, must be represented.
Knowledge management gives priority to the way in which people construct and
use knowledge. It derives its ideas from complex systems, often making use
of organic metaphors to describe knowledge growth. It is closely related to
continuous organizational learning and innovation. It recognizes that learning and doing are more
important to organizational success than dissemination and imitation.
According to Bukowitz and Williams (1999), knowledge management is the "process by which the organization generates
wealth from its intellectual or knowledge-based assets".
A key issue to knowledge
management is tacit knowledge
Generally, it is clearly distinguished the tangible
company information, contained in data bases or
documents (paper or digital), from the intangible
information coming from knowledge, know-how and the
expertise of the company staff (which is referred to as
"immaterial capital"); in cognitive terms: "tacit
Indeed, the human resources of a company is what
constitutes the force, the reactivity and the dynamism
or, more precisely, the synergic work of the full staff.
The term "collective intelligence", that is growingly
cited in literature, evidences the fact that the good
operation of a company depends principally on the
capacity of having available the relevant information at the right moment.
Knowledge management is multiform, and has varied
goals. It engages the company staff and is scarcely
supported by the information system (explicit
knowledge). In a few words, it tries to identify and
valorize the company's knowledge capital.
Embodying tacit knowledge in actual technologies and
decisions requires managers who are as comfortable with
images and symbols, e.g. with the representation of
The knowledge management
But with the
current development of information and communication
technologies, the inverse effect could be
over-information sometimes qualified as "informational
pollution" that is really "textual or data oppression":
The goal of a knowledge management project is,
consequently, to identify, capitalize and valorize the
intellectual capital of the company, engaging all the
staff. A knowledge management project is articulated in
phases, often known as the "knowledge management
localizing knowledge (identifying it at the sources),
preservation (in a knowledge repository, presumably with
a knowledge management tool),
and sharing of knowledge.
knowledge management project is more often the evidence
of a deep conviction than of a pure financial
calculation, and must generally be supported by the
higher management, without which the project wouldn't
even take off (it would collapse before).
Indeed, this cannot
be reduced to the installation of a documentary
management system (as some people believe) over a
network or over a collaborative system of any sort. It
is a very different thing.
activities in knowledge management work:
Create systems and/or processes that are interrelated
to assist people (managers, learners, employees...) in
the creation and transfer of knowledge from one entity
Creation of knowledge bases - best practices,
processes, experts directories, market intelligence, representations
of processes, etc.
Active process management - of knowledge gathering,
classifying, structuring, storing etc.
Development of knowledge centers - focal points for
knowledge skills and facilitation of knowledge flow.
Introduction of collaborative technologies - knowledge
servers for rapid knowledge access.
Organization of communities of practice - networks of
experts who collaborate across and beyond an
organization’s functional and geographic boundaries.
Creating a logical structure and developing a learning
system that enables continuous improvement. Hoard
knowledge to achieve power.
Knowledge management might be somehow
expensive, but not knowing
what is it that we know ( ignorance?) is even more expensive!
Knowledge management benefits more
from maps and semantic networks than from models,
more from markets than from
Another key issue is process
management projects focus on staff organization,
characteristics and activity (Human Resources Management =
KM programs focus on organizing employees into
communities of practice and building repositories of
best or proven practices. There is a tight (often
overlooked) connection between knowledge management and
process engineering and management, and fusing them in a
single consistent holistic architecture that must have a
positive impact in business intelligence, as the primary
beneficiary of km practices are precisely business
processes. In fact, reciprocally, any type of
process design effort also has a knowledge management
dimension, that people will automatically create and use
Most business processes contain multiple,
asynchronous, long-running processes and lots of content
of all types, including data, information and knowledge.
It is symptomatic that when a business process stops,
screeches, is when knowledge is being searched for,
updated or created.
When business processes are not documented or
described, process re-engineering becomes very
Explicit knowledge (better: "information") can
be an input source to knowledge management practice, a
reference. Tacit knowledge, difficult to detect and to
store, comprises ideas, abilities and masteries ... in
our precious minds, that develop as they immerse in the
flow of their work activities A good sharing of explicit
knowledge is not simple, but to identify, extract, profit
from and share tacit knowledge is a strenuous
enterprise. Calculating its ROI corresponds to finding a
gauge to measure the immaterial.
Project management with
In project management, for instance, you can observe
the evolution of stages/phases regarding the difference
between foreseen costs and real costs, the level of
Objectives of the application knowledge management
strategies and technologies are the reductions of
rejections, lawsuits and non-quality; the stimulation of
constant growth, of being more competitive, of
constantly adapting to constant change. It is difficult
to discern the profit proportion that can be attributed
to knowledge management, but we know that it is through
these terms that profits from knowledge management can
Sharing tacit knowledge
The purpose of distributing information is to
encourage the sharing of information. Non shared
knowledge is an industry risk.
The canonical case: the key person that works alone
in a company vanishes: dies, retires, goes to a
competitor, or just quits. The company management
realized that most of the time, that employee was
working alone. It is very dangerous and risky to leave a
certain amount of certain knowledge to a single person.
Don't think that this regards only the qualified
personnel or managers, if a group of foremen (of the
same age) leaves the factory at the same time, a
reaction from management seems important. Sometimes the losses resulting
from a non-decision (or non-investment) are priceless.
Early retirements and increasing mobility of the work
force lead to loss of knowledge.
All too often, knowledge exists with multiple points
of view instead of the collective best thinking. It is
occasional but not integral to the business. And, most important, it is available but not used
very much. Company knowledge must be traceable and
Without the need of calculations, dedicating some
technology, somebody and the engagement of part of the
staff to this seems invaluable.
Areas of application
Though knowledge management techniques can be applied to any business function, main interest is currently dedicated to tacit knowledge, process management, core competences,
Human Resources Management, globalization, skills, R&D, marketing and ERP.
Most of our
(about 80%) occurs informally, and whereas most training department activities
focus on the most obvious, knowledge management strategies focus also on informal learning,
the distinction between "learning & development" and knowledge management. As
organizations realize that the theory and practice of
their people (their intellectual
property) is what makes the difference. It means they have to bring structure and
contextual support to their information systems to really leverage its
value and also capture the informal learning opportunity, to build
a better integrated learning culture.
Another key issue in knowledge
management is system complexity
The boundaries of a system are
not determined. What the boundaries are is usually
based on the observer’s needs and opinion, not a
system property. The environment is growing in
complexity. To continue to be in business requires
organizations to learn enough about the environment
and use this knowledge to timely change their own
Complex systems are nonlinear. Simple cause and effect relationships between elements are rare. A small stimulus may cause a large effect, or have no effect at all.
Complexity in a system is distributed. A single element does not know what’s happening in the entire system. System complexity is created by the relationships between elements and, as a result, no element in the system is able to control it as a whole.
In a complex system, the relationships between elements are short-range, that is, information arrives from
close neighbors. The richness of the connections signifies that communications will pass across the system but will probably be modified themselves on their way.
An organization is an open system. Open systems are complex systems, that take information, material and energy from the external environment, transform these resources into knowledge, processes and structures that produce goods and services. Due to this, complex systems are usually not in equilibrium: in spite of the appearance of stability, the system is constantly changing.
Products and services are increasingly complex,
endowing them with a significant information component.
is fundamental to manage
change and innovation
Staff changes, organization changes, work methods,
market changes, new technologies. competition, product
Results of using knowledge management methods
The application of knowledge management methods
develops globalization, improves work
systems, rationalizes and simplifies processes;
stimulates the development of effective systems
and has an incidence on costs reduction.
in the market.
use of staff talents.
The users of
knowledge management technology, methods, and strategy
are the organizations that want to grow, not those that
want only to survive. To know
you need information (explicit knowledge), to know
and HOW, you need
knowledge, knowledge management.
The learning organization
In the learning organization, everybody
is learning, everybody is teaching and being
taught, everybody is coaching and being coached.
If two 'knowledge' corporations have the same
intellectual potential, the primary
differentiating feature then becomes a matter of which
corporation can learn faster. The learning
organization shares many key properties with the
learning human: sensing, memory, perception,
motivation, interpretation (i.e. learning/not
learning): adaptive behavior initiates a new
cycle of learning as the organization makes
Marketplaces are increasingly competitive and
the rate of innovation is rising.
Description of Knowledge
Knowledge Master software products capabilities
Being tacit knowledge
knowledge to manage”)
human mind (made
of concepts/ideas, relations and categories), KM conceptual knowledge bases
(a technology extension of the semantic networks
is ideal to structurally represent and manage company
structures eases retrieval and the updating of knowledge
bases through the key points.
Knowledge items can be
described in detail.
bases enable almost unlimited knowledge bases, adding
further knowledge precision.
A KM knowledge base can
be used as a cognitive interface to a document system,
linking physical documents.
KM knowledge bases can be
linked to the Internet.
A real time knowledge
collaboration platform enables group work, with
integrated videoconference and instant messaging.
Many search functions
enable anything to be
found in contents and knowledge
structures, easing reasoning and decisions taking.
Path recognition and
creation for higher class concept descriptions and
The automatic recognition
A knowledge base can be
exported to many external formats (documents, reports,
exchange structures like XML, etc.,) for reuse.
The benefits of using "Knowledge Master" and "Knowledge
Server" software products
Discover the real issues
behind names using advanced analysis functions.
approaches and understanding.
Use knowledge management
methods, tools and processes.
Timely reaction to change.
Use an advanced decision
support tool: get insight into your critical thinking.
Reduce complexity and
improve your critical thinking.
Develop a clear picture,
Reasoning on a model is
simpler than reasoning on the real thing.
Maintain focus in
conflict resolution, competitor analysis, project
description, documentation and management.
Release your creativity.
Obtain textual reports.
Add extra meaning with
Full featured printing.
Make more informed
within groups, see the positive and negative
consequences of an action.
Detect key assumptions
and areas of conflict.
Import/export from/to XML
Lifelong learning is
mandatory, this is the lifelong learning tool!
The effect of knowledge management methods in business
an added value and is measured in money, even though it is
not an item in balance.
Knowledge management is not fashion in a company, it is
about making money!
Bukovitz, Wendi R., & Williams, Ruth L, (1999). The
Knowledge Management Fieldbook. London: Pearson
Knowledge Management and Business Intelligence
:: Pages for a deeper insight ::