Clearly we are inundated with information today.
This means we require a different way of looking at what knowledge is, and how we use it.
Today's digital organizations are recognizing that knowledge is contextual. It is part of the business process - and should be managed as such.
For example, context-sensitive knowledge can become part of a broader knowledge base for re-use and continual learning within an organization. Mining knowledge is easier when knowledge is explicit - and managed.
More than ever, critical knowledge exists with the user’s context of day-to-day work. It is about context, and pattern recognition, how knowledge is socialized, the relationship of people that use knowledge, and the flow of knowledge as part of the business processes. It is about the flow of knowledge, and how to create, use and re-use knowledge in order to meet critical business goals.
We have recently had blog posts about SharePoint and knowledge management, and while SharePoint is a key tool that enables creation and management of knowledge, this blog post will focus more specifically on Knowledge Management and Knowledge Flow, with a focus on the concept of knowledge management and “knowledge flow” and a model for how the concept of knowledge flow can be incorporated into business solution design and development.
Why focus on knowledge flow?
According to Gartner, knowledge management is a business process that formalizes the management and use of an enterprise’s intellectual assets. It promotes a collaborative and integrative approach to the creation, capture, organization, access and use of information assets, including the tacit, uncaptured knowledge of people.
Knowledge flows through business processes and among users.
If we take this view in terms of how to address critical client problems, then we have a model to document key business needs and capture the flow of knowledge in order to build the best possible solution.
This approach means taking a very project-centric and context-centric perspective on how “knowledge management” help business teams, rather than a top-down approach.
Essentially, the focus is on the flow of knowledge with a defined business need – and how to optimize processes, people, and information within the specific context of the business needs and desired outcomes.
Getting started involves a hard look at the business processes currently in place within the defined context of a set of business users and business processes. Questions, such as the following, help in the early stages of a knowledge management quest.
- What is the context in which knowledge is needed to reach specific objectives?
- What are those objectives from both the individual perspective and the organizational perspective?
- What are the key objectives (outcomes) for knowledge workers, teams, and the organization?
- What specific processes exist or need to be developed, and how do people and knowledge elements map to those processes?
- What will enable users to create, share, and manage knowledge?
- What are the roadblocks?
- What influencing actions, systems, people, processes and behaviors need to be mapped and defined as part of a solution model?
- How can we make tacit knowledge explicit through the entire process, to improve knowledge management, re-usability and knowledge retention?
- What change management, training and release support will help to ensure ownership for the solution, adoption, and sustainability?
Taking a “knowledge flow” perspective limits the scope to a clear focus on business outcomes for a specific team within a specific context. This model can be part of a broader knowledge management effort and model within an organization. Tackling knowledge flow is a very tactical part of a broader knowledge management.
Knowledge Flow as part of solution design and release is the tactical application of knowledge management for business users - enabling business teams to succeed.
The amount of knowledge that is transmitted to and by the typical manager in a mid-to-large-sized business each and every day can be downright overwhelming.
Emails, documents, memos, collaborative communications and other forms of information continue streaming in and out at an increasingly rapid rate. The rate of information growth is often so fast, in fact, that managers and senior staff members could never possibly read, retain and keep all the data at their disposal organized. Today's competitive digital businesses need to have a comprehensive knowledge management solution in place. Businesses can enjoy many new advantages when they adopt a strategic knowledge management model that promotes knowledge communities and applications.