Knowledge management strategy

Knowledge management strategy is vital for some enterprises. This is true of organizations that rely less on physical assets. More and more depend on information and knowledge assets.

Where we are in the strategic planning process

Managing knowledge may be a key element in your firm’s success. Your SWOT analysis should show this. You may need to create a strategy for knowledge management. This could be part of your corporate business strategy.

Early knowledge management
was piecemeal and informal

The management of organizational knowledge goes back many centuries in history. Knowledge management involved such things as -

  • On the job discussions
  • Apprenticeship training
  • Documenting ‘best practice’, in the form of patterns and formulas

Such practices cover gathering, organizing, sharing, and applying knowledge of special value to the organization.

The rise of the knowledge worker

The rise of information and communications technologies (ICT) in parallel with the growth in size and complexity of organizations of all kinds changed the approach to knowledge management. In the last decade of the twentieth century knowledge management emerged as a separate field of study in its own right. An influential seed prior to this was the 1959 book of Peter Drucker Landmarks of Tomorrow: A Report on the New. In this work, Drucker heralded the rise of the knowledge worker.

Some trends affected the knowledge management. One trend is the growing size and complexity of organizations of all kinds. Another is the rise of information and communications technologies (ICT).

These include -

  • Ubiquitous high-speed networks
  • Increased cost efficiency, and reliability of data storage
  • Omnipresence of high performance computing devices

This has made possible quicker and cheaper knowledge sharing.

Knowledge management strategy
may not be for everyone

Some firms need systematic knowledge management. It is not always 'strategic'. That which was once a strategic advantage is now just a basic task.

Think of quality control.

Knowledge management is vital
in some kinds of business

Managing knowledge assets may affect your bottom line by say, 20% or more. This is 'strategic' enough for you to need a strategy for knowledge management.

Good knowledge management is vital in some industries. In these firms a strategy for knowledge management will be part of the corporate business strategy.

Such enterprises could include the following -

  • Professional services such as consulting, accounting and legal services
  • Healthcare, including research intensive businesses as pharmaceuticals
  • ‘High-tech’ work such as software engineering
  • Organizations that have knowledge management as their core purpose; these include schools, universities, publishers, libraries, and archives!

Devising a strategy for knowledge management

It is tempting to adopt popular approaches when designing a knowledge strategy. These include -

  • communities of practice
  • storytelling
  • content management systems (CMS)

Adopting one or more of these is not a knowledge management strategy.
Such practices can be part of your strategy. If they fit with your strategy, and the nature of your business, use them.

As the diagram shows, look at knowledge management in each group in the firm. Also, link with the strategic directions of the business as a whole. This leads to a two-pronged approach. Making strategy for managing knowledge in the firm involves -

Corporate - The strategic priorities of the enterprise drive the focus of knowledge management. They also affect selection of knowledge management projects.

Local - Analysis of knowledge management in processes that support strategy achievement. This surfaces key staff needs and issues. Address these through a range of knowledge management projects.

Blend each of these approaches. Consult with affected staff. Your knowledge strategy will have strategic focus and staff buy-in.

Return from Knowledge Management Strategy to Business Strategy.

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