Knowledge Management must be focused on achieving business results. They could be drawn from an annual report or a performance
scorecard. Organizations often focus initial KM programs on cost savings and efficiency. They may then move
on to focus on performance improvement (e.g., improving products and services, making better, faster decisions, energizing
innovation). The most ambitious organizations build on success and use KM to enable business transformation.
To realize business benefits from a knowledge management program, five robust connections are required.
- People to People. People are the engine of knowledge. A significant amount of an organization's
knowledge and experience resides in the heads of its people. This "know how" – sometimes called "tacit
knowledge" – is essentially impossible to write down.
Key to capitalizing it is ensuring that people who need it can find people who have it and can contact them easily. This requires
sharing the profiles of people (their expertise, experience, interests) and putting in place the channels
and incentives for exchange and collaboration.
- People to Information. To enable people to be productive contributors, they
must be connected to the wealth of information that the enterprise has already published.
The organization must put in place the information systems and business processes to ensure information
is captured readily, is not duplicated, remains up-to-date, and is validated. There are many tools
available. Knowledge mapping, taxonomies, content management processes and tools, portals, business
intelligence applications and dashboards are some of the means we use to maximize the return from existing
- People to Communities of Practice. When people are connected to each other and
to the information they need, they can begin to collaborate and solve problems in virtual teams. They
form communities of practice that bring together
people who share a common focus and interest. The Community of Practice (CoP) is a fundamental knowledge
management building block. Communities promote trust and knowledge sharing across functions, geographies
and time. In well-designed and led communities, experts mentor the less-experienced members and all
members share expertise, spot innovations, validate new ideas and motivate each other.
- People to Best Practices & Lessons Learned. Newly
discovered best practices and lessons learned from successes and failures are particularly valuable knowledge.
Widely shared, they enable your organization to routinely repeat success and not repeat mistakes. To
ensure rapid organizational learning, you must put in place "standard" processes for knowledge seeking,
sharing and validation. You must make them a part of the "work environment" of your employees—so
that it is the norm for people to find, use and share the collective knowledge of the enterprise.
- People to Workflows. The value
of knowledge management is most visible when you embed the knowledge connections in your business processes.
It is then that you see the bottom-line business benefits of making the right information and knowledge
available to the right person at the right time.
If you build robust knowledge connections, you remove the clutter from
people's jobs. You maximize their ability to contribute productively and create value. You give them
the confidence of knowing that they are riding on top of the best knowledge and experience held by the
Animated Knowledge Connections PowerPoint slide (261 KB)