It is nearly ten years now, since I first started my journey to the world of knowledge in organizations. As I recall, it was at the end of 1998, my boss call me and suggested that I will “see what it is all about”, where “it” was referred to “Knowledge Management”. At that time, I was not aware the full extent of this issue, nor I would imagine what would become my main interest an activity for years to come.
Like the few other practitioners in Israel that were struggling with it, I was at my virginity….you know what I mean, don’t you? I thought that “If we build it, they will come…”. Well, we will install some software, a technological tool, and all our knowledge problems will be solved. I did not think that few years later, I will tackle a great Video Clip by a colleague, David Gurteen under the title “Encourage knowledge sharing”. One sentence from it still flashes in my mind whenever I meet managers in organizations who urge me to supply a KM solution for them. The sentence, to be precise, a question, was this: “How can we make them use it…?”.
It was the late Peter Drucker who wrote that “Managing Knowledge Means Managing Oneself” (Drucker 2000). He referred to a basic principle regarding managing knowledge: knowledge management is an act of management. Managing knowledge means to understand your role in managing how you act, react, plan, execute, perform.
Ten years passed; the first five years I served within my organization as the Knowledge manager. The next five years I work with other organizations in which I help them to embark to this field focusing on successes, based on my personal experience, and based on good practices from Israel and abroad.
Four years ago, I started my journey towards PhD., in which I am looking at the topic of “Executives as storytellers – How executives use storytelling to communicate Knowledge management?”. More on it is yet to come, however in short, I noticed that managing in the era of knowledge means that managers start to look on “the first line” – the employees, the people, and this will lead towards achieving “The bottom line” – the business ‘numbers’. They may not admit it, but, in order to do so, the tell stories.
I am writing this post to say that even though years passed, tremendous efforts were done and good practices and successes really occur, in which organizations gain significant effectiveness with their processes – still, we must not forget the basics of KM. We should remember that the true meaning of “Knowledge management” is “Managing in the Knowledge era”. We must understand that when we talk about Knowledge Management we first address the issue of Management, than the issue of Knowledge.
Since the issue is managing knowledge, the approach towards implementing KM within an organization should be carefully adapted:
First, there is a need to check if the necessary culture infrastructure exists. What is the vision and objectives of this organization? Is this organization encouraging learning as a routine? Is it sets learning and knowledge as core values? Do people who are part of this organization cherish and respect their colleagues and their knowledge? What are the activities preformed by managers that supports theses challenges?
Secondly, in order to direct all organizational efforts and resources to support the vision and objectives, there is a crucial need to look closely at Core Processes of this organization: first to identify these processes, than- to assure that processes are streamlined and optimal. Meaning, to identify what are the knowledge ‘ingredients’ that flows within the pipes of theses processes, what are the sources, are the knowledge updated, relevant, accessible, comprehend? Do all participants in these processes know their ‘roles’ in the ‘play’? Are they focused on the same target?
Of course Technological Infrastructure is a must, and without it, it is hardly possible to maintain an effective use of knowledge in organizations in this era. These technologies should be carefully adapted to meet users’ needs, as well as organizational needs. Where full adequate between users and organizational needs occurs, it promises success.
If we, KM practitioners, writers, consultants, Solution providers, managers – will look back on the way we have all done, I think we can be – modestly – proud. People do not only promote KM; they write, research, publish. They do it in books, journal articles, and blogs. The talk about it on any professional stage, the get together within professional communities of practice like “The Israeli Knowledge Managers” Forum” I initiated in 2001, and there are many alike all over the world. We are all developing and contributing to the Knowledge Management Body of Knowledge. We are doing it also by lecturing in seminars, academia and in organizations. We teach, not only preach, and by doing so, we are putting transformational leadership into practice: we are teaching the future teachers – yet, we are using the power of knowledge the right way – we share it – and by doing so, we are disseminate the idea of learning and developing knowledge, together and for good cause.
So, what is it about knowledge?
I believe it starts with curiosity, follows by the fun of learning, goes to the responsibility of teaching, enthusiastic by facing what you discover in the way – which than you find yourself in the spiral of learning, as it was put by Nonaka and Takeuchi – but you are charged with more energy to ‘spiraling’ more and more.