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The Dilemma in Knowledge Management..
Human Resources » Knowledge Management

Chrm Message From: CHRM Total Posts: 209 Join Date:
Rank: Coach Post Date: 12/06/2006 23:25:25 Points: 1045 Location: India

According to one of the definitions that I recollect, "Knowledge Management"  is a new branch of management for achieving breakthrough business performance through the synergy of people, processes, and technology. It has been gaining significance amongst key economic industries where technology is constantly upgraded to get integrated with people processes.

Considering this, let us consider this article which really puts the dilemma of work performance on people and technology..

Technology or People ? The Dilemma in Knowledge Management

{Organisations seem to be only focusing on the technology aspect of Knowledge Management but they should realise that without a people centric approach they would fail to achieve the desired results.}

Knowledge Management is the accumulated Expertise and abilities within the organization by the collaboration of right people and right information. Knowledge Management is the framework within which the organization views all its processes as knowledge processes. In this respect all business processes involve the creation, dissemination, renewal and application of information towards the organizational sustenance and survival. Knowledge Management is becoming increasingly important because of a paradigm shift in the world from one, which was predictable to one of rapid discontinuous change.

The words Intellectual capital and Knowledge management is sometimes used synonymously, however there is a slight difference. Intellectual Capital is all about measuring and quantifying the intellectual assets of a firm whereas Knowledge management includes the development, creation and management of Knowledge assets. In other words it is an active, dynamic procedure. It is at this juncture that there are two perspectives and schools of thought. One is the people perspective and the other is the IT perspective. The first group believes in the management of information entirely through Technology whereas the second lot focuses on people. They believe that Knowledge consists of the skills, the learning and the implicit Knowledge that is vested in its people. They believe that the Knowledge bank is the people and it is the people who learn. However, most Indian companies seemed to have embarked on the path where Knowledge Management is technologically driven.

Information Technology can facilitate the gathering, channeling and dissemination of information but the final burden of translating this information into actionable knowledge (depending on the situation and context) is on humans.Having the best breed of technologies do not ensure the creativity and innovation required for the success of an organization. The key thus lies in the synergy of both these elements.

Technology is important but what is of greater importance is the capturing of Tacit knowledge. This is essential as two problems and two situations are never the same. This is where the human perspective comes into play. Tacit knowledge is based on two words application and experience rather than on rational thought. There are many components not understood by the users in clear scientific terms but could be explained using empirical relations. The mind picks up and processes information as and when they originate and not always from organizational repositories. Thus transfer and capture of tacit information through organizational repositories is not as simple ad is still in its nascent stage. Technology and repositories is however a good way of exchange of explicit information. The advent of the Intranet has facilitated the gathering and dissemination of information.

The need of the hour is however, to evolve measures to capture Tacit Knowledge, which has to be more people focussed as well as people driven. This can be done either as a Tacit to tacit manner or a tacit to explicit manner. The former is referred to as socialization. The organization realizes that it is essential to have personal interaction or socialize to transfer knowledge. This typically tends to be an informal process. Mentoring in an organization is theclassic case of tacit Knowledge transfer. It is a formal process to the extent that a mentor is assigned to a person. How the transfer takes place is essentially personal. Thus in addition to the explicit knowledge, tacit Knowledge is transferred through observation and inculcation from people who have these abilities. On the other hand Tacit to explicit stresses on converting tacit Knowledge to explicit concepts within the organizational framework for easy reuse resulting in high ROI for such efforts. An example is the conversion of the sound of a car to vibrations to identify defects, instead of relying only on the ear of the mechanic.

The rest of the article can be read here

Any members with their expert comments on this issue ??



"Think HR,  think CHRM...

Chrm Message From: madure Total Posts: 278 Join Date:  
Rank: Coach Post Date: 13/06/2006 01:47:39 Points: 1440 Location: India

Here are some of my views on Knowledge Management and the issue of :known" vs " knowingness"

A simpler definition of knowledge Management is , using the ideas and
experience of employees, customers and suppliers to improve the organisation’s performance.

One company document described knowledge management as a way to ‘give employees time to reflect, exchange thoughts and transfer knowledge by enriched connectivity’.

There is a huge amount of knowledge in any organisation. People at all levels have
accumulated knowledge about what customers want, about how best to design products and processes, about what has worked in the past and what hasn’t. A company that can collect all that knowledge and share it between employees will have a huge advantage over an organisation that never discovers what its people know.

However , in my own findings on e-Consciousness I have emphasized that in the twenty- first century, management surpasses even this level and will be based not only on knowledge but on “ knowingness” – a comprehensive consciousness based model which explores inner realities that touch sensitive core values hitherto unexplored.

The transition of management thought towards the emphasis on continuous learning and leadership at all levels in a learning organization is a progression beyond organizational processes. In the latter part of the century, management scholars attempted to identify the true depository of knowledge in organizations. Recognizing that organizations are indeed knowledge- based, they wanted to know how and where in an organization knowledge actually resides.

Historically the answer has been that it can be found in the databases, files, and accounting systems of the firm, because knowledge contained there is owned and fully controlled by the Institution. But a deeper analysis revealed that a company’s knowledge lies in the Human Resources. These apply to all levels of staff. The true depository of knowledge in the institution is therefore the consciousness of the knower himself.

Finding this knowledge and putting it to work, however, is easier said than done. If companies want to use their knowledge effectively, they will have to ensure that all their systems are designed to support that goal. This means that the people management and development policies will have to encourage employees to share what they know. If individuals or departments are rewarded for what only they achieve, they will have little incentive to share their knowledge with colleagues or other departments. Similarly, the company’s information technology will have to be designed to ensure knowledge can be shared and that information can be transferred easily across the organisation.

An organisation that manages knowledge successfully is one in which departments seek advice from each other and in which managers talk to front-line staff to find out what the customers are really after. As Lew Platt, former chief executive of Hewlett-Packard, is reputed to have said:

If HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times as profitable.’

Peter Drucker, the Austrian-born management guru, is credited with inventing the term
‘knowledge worker’ to describe the employees who work in these increasingly important sectors. Management consultancies, architectural practices, advertising agencies and law and accountancy firms are staffed by people with nothing to sell but what they know. Physical assets, such as machinery, buildings and vehicles, form a very small part of these knowledge firms’ organisational strength. What makes these organisations competitive and profitable is the collective expertise and ingenuity of the people who work for them. But knowledge management is not just concerned with these professional services firms. All companies contain knowledge that they need to exploit.

There is a second and related reason why knowledge management has acquired such
prominence: many companies have painful experience of how easy it is to lose knowledge.

The early and mid-1990s saw a wave of downsizing in many companies, partly in response to the economic downturn that followed the Gulf War and partly because of the popularity of the idea of ‘delayering’. Companies re-examined their business processes from scratch and decided they could do without many of their staff, particularly their middle managers. Having lost these experienced people, they then discovered there were things the organisation no longer knew how to do. Those middle managers might have seemed superfluous but they had vast experience. Many companies had to hire them back as consultants, often on higher salaries than before.

The companies that manage knowledge most effectively have ensured that their knowledge management programmes are an intrinsic part of their overall business
strategy . their human resources and information technology policies support the sharing of information . they have a corporate culture that encourages staff to share what they know.

Nokia is the world’s leading maker of mobile phones and one of the world’s best-known
companies. The branding consultancy Interbrand has named it the world’s fifth
most valuable brand after Coca-Cola, Microsoft, IBM and Intel. Nokia is the only non-American company in Interbrand’s top 10. Yet, at the beginning of the 1990s, Nokia was virtually unknown outside Finland.

While it had been involved in telecommunications and consumer electronics for many years, it was only in the early 1990s that it decided to devote itself exclusively to mobile phones and mobile phone networks.

By 2001, Nokia completely dominated the world mobile phone industry with a market share of 35 per cent. It did so with a single-minded focus on good design and worldwide marketing. But one of the keys to its success was its focus on knowledge management, on making sure that all parts of the organisation communicated continuously with each other and with their suppliers.

At least four groups of people are involved in bringing a Nokia mobile phone to market: the designers, the ‘user-interface’ specialists (who look at how people use mobile phones), themanufacturing managers and the component suppliers. A large part of Nokia’s success is ensuring that these groups constantly share their knowledge.

Prof.Lakshman Madurasinghe MA.,MS (Psy) PhD.,Chartered Fellow CIPD-Lond

Consultant Psychologist/ Attorney

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