Edwin K. Morris
Pioneer Knowledge Services
Knowledge management is a contemporary business practice and organizational capacity builder that is recognized and used by governments, military systems, industries, corporations, foundations, and academia.
The World Health Organization considers “KM to be the dual challenge of, first, managing information and processes and, second, managing people and their environment so that knowledge is created, shared and applied more systematically and effectively.” (World Health Organization, 2005, p. 8)
Effective knowledge management economizes and creates opportunities for learning across at an enterprise level. This effort enables better and faster decision-making and reduces resource mismanagement by creating a learning and knowing culture. A culture that shares and provides the opportunity for reflection then learning becomes foundational in the organizational culture. The result is an organization that gains strength and agility as the system continually builds and leverages the deliberately designed institutional wisdom. The ingredients in this KM Recipe is People, Processes, Tools equate and include in the equation the Organization.
As KM, has evolved so has the meaning and definition of knowledge management. To this end in 2015 Girard & Girard authored a research paper to distill and find the essence of the various definitions of knowledge management. From 100 definitions, they analyzed the words and distilled the essence of them to state KM is, “Knowledge Management is the process of creating, sharing, using and managing the knowledge and information of an organization.” (Girard & Girard, 2015, p. 14) They concluded the following describing the trek of KM and its definition.
From a humble beginning about three decades ago, knowledge management has developed from a premature concept into a mainstream organizational necessity. Over the course of time the exact nature of the term has evolved. In the past decade the responsibility for establishing a precise applied meaning of the domain has passed from academics to practitioners. The latter have massaged the early academic definitions to meet the wants and needs of their particular constituents. This project is an early attempt to record the applied definitions that have progressed to ensure they are available to academics and practitioners alike. (Girard & Girard, 2015)
Just as knowledge management is used in business and industry as a key ingredient for innovation, sustainment, and growth, it can serve the same purpose for regions, communities and society.
For example, the World Bank produced a Knowledge Economy Index that represents a country’s overall preparedness to compete in a knowledge economy. In a knowledge economy, “…knowledge assets are deliberately accorded more importance than capital and labor assets, and where the quantity and sophistication pervading economic and societal activities reaches very high levels.” (Institute, 2007, p. 13) In the World Bank’s 2012 index, the U.S. ranked in 12th place. This was a drop by 8 since the year 2000. Sweden is in first place and regarded as the most advanced knowledge economy. The relevance and importance of developing knowledge resources is highlighted further below:
…whatever their level of development, countries should consider embarking on a knowledge- and innovation-based development process. In these times of accelerated globalization, “grey matter” is a country’s main durable resource. Its exploitation for economic and social well-being is increasingly at the center of development strategies. (Institute, 2007, p. xiii)While the vision promoted by The World Bank is much larger in scope and depth than what this pilot could possibly aim to accomplish, we can point to incremental steps under way in our state government that are necessary to enable the prioritization and development of a true knowledge economy. For example, Denise Bedford reflects that, “The nature of the shift from an industrial to a knowledge economy – in organizational culture, in collaboration, in technologies and simple operations – is a radical transformation.” (Bedford, 2012)
An indication of knowledge importance in society is exampled by searching the New York State Assembly Bill Search. Searching the keyword “data” produces 125 bills. A search of the keyword “database” results in 38 and the term “knowledge” produces 13 bills. (State, 2016)
Consider the realm of leadership and how it effects the organization culture. APQC in 2013 conducted a survey that produced the below infographic. They polled 547 respondents from various industries. They were asked about leadership in their organizations. Listed as the top leadership deficiencies knowledge sharing is number three. (APQC, n.d.)
So where are we know? KM as an organizational asset continues to grow in every domain of business. In my judgement the need for 21st century digital skills in people is the same in what is expected in organizations. How well they adapt and adopt addresses the question to how successful the culture integrates into the knowledge ecosystem. The Knowledge Management era will innovate how work gets done.
APQC. (n.d.). The Leadership Deficit: Survey Results Report. Retrieved Feb 9, 2016, from APQC: https://www.apqc.org/knowledge-base/documents/leadership-deficit-survey-results-report
Bedford, D. (2012, December). The Role Of Knowledge Management In Creating Transformational Organizations And Transformational Leaders. Journal of Knowledge Management Practice, Vol. 13, none. Retrieved Feb 2016, from http://www.tlainc.com/articl320.htm
Girard, J., & Girard, J. (2015). Defining knowledge management: Toward an applied compendium . Online Journal of Applied Knowledge Management, 3(1), 15. Retrieved Feb 8, 2016, from http://www.iiakm.org/ojakm/articles/2015/volume3_1/OJAKM_Volume3_1pp1-20.pdf
Institute, T. W. (2007). Building Knowledge Economies: Advanced Strategies for Development. Washington: The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Retrieved Feb 2016, from http://siteresources.worldbank.org/KFDLP/Resources/461197-1199907090464/BuildingKEbook.pdf
Sabherwal, R., & Becerra-Fernandez, I. (2015). Knowledge management : systems and processes . New York: Routledge.
State, N. Y. (2016, Feb 8). New York State Bill Search. Retrieved from The New York State Assembly: http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?
World Health Organization. (2005). Knowledge Management Strategy. Geneva: World Health Organization.