Mayo defines Knowledge Management as the
"Management of the information, knowledge and experience available
to an organization", its creation capture storage availability
& utilization in order that organizational activities build on what
is known and extend it further. Knowledge management is the process of
collecting, storing and using the knowledge held within an organization.
The process by which organization develops its store
of knowledge is called organizational learning. A learning organization
is centered on people that make up the organization and knowledge they
There are two dimensions of knowledge one that can be
easily stated and stored in management information systems such as the
facts, transactions, events that can be incorporated in the
organizational tangible memory is explicit knowledge. Explicit knowledge
is the formal documented knowledge held in the organization's resource
base that can easily be retrieved, shared & disseminated.
Charles West Churchman describes that "Knowledge
resides in the user and not in the collection of information." The
other more intangible form of knowledge is the tacit knowledge which is
the expertise held in the people within the organization that has not
been formally documented, it is the knowledge that exists in the
individual's brain and whether he chooses to share this knowledge is a
matter of choice.
It is observed that the motivation to share hard won
experience is some times low, the individual is giving away his value
and may be very reluctant to lose a position of influence and respect by
making it available to every one.
Knowledge has often used in organizations to gain
advantage in terms of influence and self-advancement by those who have
it over those who do not. Change in culture and individual behavior must
aim towards encouraging the use of knowledge not for individual
advantage but for the benefit of the organization as a whole. The aim is
to create a knowledge sharing environment. This requires a change in
organizational structures, values, leadership behavior, and various
human resource management practices.
Changing the people's behavior was seen as the
biggest difficulty in managing knowledge and biggest impediment to its
translation was culture. A shared culture, vision, values & rewards
for knowledge sharing are the only way out. Senior executives must
demonstrate commitment and motivate knowledge sharing behavior through
their own actions.
American Management Association says "Knowledge
is vital to a company's future success".
Knowledge management is necessary for organizations
because what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. Considering a
simplistic example banks in Pakistan that were selling only commercial
credit products to businesses become obsolete in their approach
regardless of the efficiency of their processes since their product
definition did not keep up with the changing needs of market which
demands a variety of consumer credit and Islamic financing products
providing flexibility and ease of availability. To remain aligned with
changing business needs, organizations need continuous assessment of
their business effectiveness so that core competencies do not become
Knowledge management facilitates continuous learning
and unlearning. John Hunt in "Managing People at Work" says
learning involves learning and unlearning, not merely learning some
thing new but also trying to unlearn what is already known.
Lewin described this learning process in his three
stage change process.
UNFREEZE, CHANGE AND REFREEZE
Unfreeze is selling the change that is unfreezing the
existing attitudes, values, behavior, systems and structures as a result
of new knowledge initiatives in the organization. Change is concerned
with identifying the new desirable behavior and refreeze is the final
stage implying the consolidation or reinforcement of new behavior.
Knowledge management considers the synergy between
technological and behavioral issues as necessary for survival in the
environment which is subject to only one constant that is change.
Knowledge value chain treats human as key component who is engaged in
the continuous assessment of knowledge held within and outside the
organization. Humans engage in an active process of sense making to
continuously assess the effectiveness of best practices.
Knowledge management focuses on "doing the right
things" instead of "doing things right". Knowledge
management is the frame work within which the organization views all its
processes as knowledge processes. In this view all business processes
involve creation, dissemination renewal and application of knowledge
towards organization sustenance and survival lest the best practices of
yesterday turn out to be the worst practices of today and tomorrow.
The writer is Assistant Vice President, Training
& Development, Saudi Pak Commercial Bank Lahore.