Who is in charge of Knowledge?

Who is in charge of knowledge within your organisation? Who handles Knowledge Management and Knowledge Productivity?

Nobody?

Worse still, the IT department?

It wouldn’t be a surprise. Organisations are only now really waking up to the importance of Knowledge Management when compared to something like data management. They are similar, but very different. 

The problem with knowledge is that it can be the domain of many different people within an organisation. Ownership of knowledge is also highly dependent on the type of knowledge you’re talking about.

This presents huge problems in trying to create consistent, useful and manageable processes to make organisational knowledge more useful and more accessible. The absence of those processes limits the value of knowledge and often diminishes the competitive advantage that this knowledge might produce.

Manage your processes

Data provides you with dots which you can then contextualise and connect to create knowledge. Managing that process of discovery and, ultimately capture, will become increasingly important to organisations in the future. Dedicating a role to it now could not only save headaches down the road, it could also provide you with a competitive advantage. For many organisations, however, that is not a practical solution. Instead, making sure senior management recognise the need for consistent processes which can be accessed by all relevant personnel or teams can be a good starting point and could ease pain points in the future.

Most organisations operate a passive information environment, where data is stored and only looked at when a project requires it. A more dynamic approach to capturing information and turning it into knowledge should be led by a senior team member or manager who is familiar with the differences between information and knowledge.

Remember, information and data are your raw ingredients. Knowledge is the meal you create from them. Making sure it’s palatable requires a chef or, in this instance, a staff member who understands the process. 

Assigning a senior management role to Knowledge Productivity allows an organisation to create a hierarchy of knowledge and a structure to storage and management. It means that information captured by the organisation isn’t lost or wasted. Instead, your Knowledge Manager is tasked with making sure teams input that data into your chosen system, clearly tagging it and categorising the contents for future use.

Insightflow has used the water wheel analogy before in terms of research processes. We see Knowledge Productivity in a similar way. Information is fed in and constantly sifted through for useful Knowledge Atoms, little nuggets of information that can be contextualised and added to others to create knowledge. That, in turn, can be turned into a compelling story or the answer to a business question. By having a named person take responsibility for this system can provide any organisation with a commercial advantage.

It also ensures that your organisation maintains knowledge continuity. This is an incredibly important aspect of business too often ignored. When a staff member leaves, they take their knowledge with them. Making sure your organisation has some form of exit interview procedure in place which captures those crucial things that can be lost with departing colleagues is vital.

Having a structure in place, with clear leadership roles, is crucial to that process. 

Steps to take:

  • Appoint a POC for knowledge 
  • Try and find a way to let people know what exists and where it can be found
  • Create a scoring process for information that allows the most useful stuff to rise to the top
  • Even on a small scale make it easier for knowledge/information to be captured and defined
  • Create a common taxonomy across the company to make sure that, so far as possible, information & knowledge is defined in predictable ways
  • Bring in tools that allow for data and information on your systems to be searched an indexed
  • TRegularly remind people what is on the system and where it can be found
  • Recognise internal experts and create database of expertise in the company/organisation (relying on the taxonomy to create a structure for this)
  • Apply team or company knowledge capture processes
  • Conduct exit interviews to capture knowledge

For many of these things, it will be helpful to create a knowledge champion who is responsible for pushing these initiatives through the system. They should also be tasked with putting an internal spotlight on where knowledge has helped internal teams make decisions of plans.

Who is your knowledge champion?

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