Knowledge Connections

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 information assets.

  • 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 overall organization.



Animated Knowledge Connections PowerPoint slide (261 KB) ppt

Last Updated: 30-Mar-2009