It is said that, Knowledge is not power, it is only potential. Applying that knowledge is power! The possession of knowledge, unless that knowledge is applied, does not give leverage to the organization.
According to Gartner, “Knowledge management is a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise’s information assets. These assets may include databases, documents, policies, procedures, and previously un-captured expertise and experience in individual workers.”
Ideally there are two types of knowledge:
Tacit knowledge is embodied in the skills, ideas and experiences that people have but are not codified and may not necessarily be easily expressed. With tacit knowledge, people are not always aware of the knowledge they possess or how it can be valuable to others, Chugh, 2015.
Effective capture and transfer of tacit knowledge generally requires extensive personal contact, regular interaction and trust. This kind of knowledge can only be revealed and transmitted through social networks. It is ‘captured’ and shared through face-to-face meetings, Communities of Practice – CoPs, peer-to-peer collaborations and team discussions.
Explicit knowledge on the other hand, is documented. It is formal and systematic. It is easily communicated and shared. It is articulated knowledge, expressed and recorded as words, numbers, codes, mathematical and scientific formulae, and musical notations. Explicit knowledge is easy to communicate, store, and distribute. It is the knowledge found in books, on the web, and other visual and oral means.
So, why is Knowledge Management Important to an organization?
There are several reasons:
- There is standardisation of processes and procedures for knowledge management
- Managing knowledge ensures that information and knowledge is captured
- It ensures all relevant information and knowledge resources can be accessed by employees when they need it
- When employees leave or retire, it is important that the tacit knowledge is kept within the organization
- Allows faster response time and more effective decision making process
- It avoids ‘re-inventing the wheel’ and duplication of efforts
- Improves products and services
- It ensures that existing expertise is fully utilized
- Reduces inefficiencies and redundancies thereby cutting operational costs
- It stimulates innovation and growth