CONCEPT OF KNOWLEDGE
Knowledge is power. There is no unique and universally accepted definition, but almost all are related to data or information.
The core of knowledge management is the sharing of knowledge.
What is data?
Data is a number/word/letter without any context.
But without reference to either space or time, numbers or data are meaningless → key phrase is “out of context” → since it is
out of context it has no meaningful relation to anything else. A mere collection of data is not information.
What is information?
Information is a relationship between data that is dependent on context for its meaning and with little implication for the
When information is processed and pattern relation among data and information is found, it becomes knowledge.
These patterns are dynamic, continuously changing, but when these patterns are fully understood, there is a high level of
predictability and reliability as to how the patterns will change or evolve over time.
Types of Knowledge
Knowledge provides the organization a competitive advantage, which is realized through the full utilization of information
and data coupled with the harnessing of people’s skills and ideas as well as their commitments and motivations.
There are 2 types of knowledge:
Tacit knowledge is that stored in the brain of a person.
Explicit knowledge is that contained in documents or other forms of storage other than the human brain.
Both types of knowledge can be produced as a result of interactions or innovations and enable organizations to respond to
new situations and emerging challenges.
▪ Stored in the brain of a person → personal knowledge
▪ Accumulated through study and experience and developed through interactions with other people
▪ grows through the practice of trial and error and the experience of success and failure
▪ Unique → difficult to replicate
▪ Difficult to communicate, formalize, record and articulate
▪ Identifying and Sharing (useful) tacit knowledge is a great challenge.
Once relevant tacit knowledge is identified, it becomes extremely valuable to the organization because it is difficult
for other organizations to replicate.
▪ The sharing of tacit knowledge is a challenge to many organizations, it can be shared through activities
(conversations, workshops…) and mechanisms (technology tools).
▪ At the base of the “Learning Organization” (Senge)
▪ Contained in documents or other forms of storage (e.g., reports, business plans, etc.)
▪ Codified → knowledge readily made available to others and that can be easily replicated
▪ Transmitted and shared in systematic and formal language
Relationship between tacit and explicit knowledge
Explicit and tacit knowledge are complementary, without tacit knowledge will be difficult (impossible) to understand explicit
Personal knowledge can become organizational knowledge through the dynamic interaction between tacit knowledge and
This interaction between the 2 types of knowledge brings about what is called the four modes of knowledge conversion
The process of knowledge creation is based on a double spiral movement between tacit and explicit knowledge.
4 modes of knowledge conversion:
SOCIALIZATION (from individual tacit knowledge to group tacit knowledge)
is a process of creating common tacit knowledge through shared experiences.
EXTERNALIZATION (from tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge)
is a process of articulating tacit knowledge into such explicit knowledge as concepts and/or diagrams.
The process often uses metaphors, analogies, and/or sketches.
COMBINATION (from separate explicit knowledge to systemic explicit knowledge)
is a process of assembling new and existing explicit knowledge into a systemic knowledge.
INTERNALIZATION (from explicit knowledge to tacit knowledge).
is a process of embodying explicit knowledge into tacit knowledge or an individual’s know-how or operational
The Knowledge Challenge
“Core knowledge” is the kind of knowledge essential to the attainment of the organization’s goal and the fulfillment of its
strategy. The management of core knowledge must be kept within the organization.
Core knowledge alone cannot fully support an organization and make it competitive.
There is need for knowledge that can maintain the effectiveness of the organization, known as “enabling knowledge”.
When combined with the core knowledge, such enabling knowledge leads to the development of new products, processes
This is the knowledge challenge: the problem is that top management usually does not know who has what information. So
the challenge is to become aware of where core and enabling knowledge reside and how to let this knowledge to flow
through the organization. Senge and the Learning organization
According to Peter Senge (1990), learning organizations are “organizations where people continually expand their capacity to
create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is
set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together”.
The dimension that distinguishes learning from more traditional organizations is the mastery of certain basic disciplines (i.e.,
the five disciplines identified by Peter Senge).
1. Systems thinking → The Fifth Discipline that integrates the other four, fusing them into a coherent body of theory and
Systemic thinking is the ability to comprehend and address the whole, and to examine the interrelationship between
2. Personal mastery → is a discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our
energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively;
3. Mental models → are deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures of images that influence how
we understand the world and how we take action;
4. Building shared vision → a practice of unearthing shared pictures of the future that foster genuine commitment and
enrolment rather than compliance;
5. Team learning → starts with 'dialogue', the capacity of members of a team to suspend assumptions and enter into
genuine 'thinking together’.
DEFINING KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT
knowledge management is the conversion of tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge and sharing it within the organization.
Putting it more technically and accurately, knowledge management is the process through which organizations generate
value from their intellectual and knowledgebased assets.
Aspects of Knowledge Management
There are 2 main aspects of knowledge management:
the management of knowledge related to objects that are identified and handled by information systems.
Once developed, it becomes knowledge management, which creates a number of techniques: knowledge
technology, knowledge analysis, knowledge planning.
this involves the management of tacit knowledge that resides inside the heads of people.
Pillars of Knowledge Management
In order to more fully define and understand knowledge management, it is useful to consider knowledge management as
having four pillars. These pillars are:
1. MANAGEMENT AND ORGANIZATION
o Commitment from top management → they should serve as role models by sharing and using knowledge
o Implementation of a KM structure (i.e., a devoted department), including a KM infrastructure able to collect,
categorize and monitor the use of knowledge.
o Managing the value chain → i.e., managing the organizational knowledge of customers and suppliers.
o Implement an adequate ICT infrastructure → to better create, organize, share and apply knowledge.
o Three principal technology infrastructures:
1) to organize content,
2) to search for information,
3) to locate appropriate expertise.
3. PEOPLE AND CULTURE
o Efficient management of people and culture within the organization through:
1) redefinition of organizational structure;
2) specific human resource management practices;
3) consistent organizational culture.
o Trust refers to the belief people have about the likely behavior of others, and the assumption that they will honor
A trusting relationship is based on an expectation of reciprocity of mutual benefit.
4. CONTENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS
o Creation, management, and distribution of content on the intranet, extranet, or a website.
o Improve the quality of explicit knowledge.
o Support the tacit knowledge transfer.
Measuring Knowledge Management
One of the most difficult challenges in measuring the results of knowledge management is the assessment of the real value
of knowledge assets, in particular tacit knowledge.
the most successful way to measure knowledge sharing is to trace the flow of knowledge among employees.
Similarly, customer satisfaction levels can be measured through surveys and feedback mechanisms. Although these
measurements are simplification of what in reality is happening, they are, nevertheless, valuable proxies that contribute to
providing a better understanding of knowledge flows, in particular, and knowledge management, in general.
ELEMENTS OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT
A complete knowledge management system must contain 4 elements:
1. KNOWLEDGE CREATION AND CAPTURE
Knowledge is continually being created since the interaction among people generates knowledge.
One of the primary aims of km is to capture the knowledge that is produced during such interactions.
The survival of a corporation sometimes depends on how much new and advanced knowledge it can generate, capture
and utilize in order to produce a more competitive or attractive product or service.
For this reason, two factors have become essential in determining competitiveness: creativity and innovation.
Brainstorming is one of the most common methodologies used to bring out creativity and innovation from individuals.
The process of brainstorming makes possible the sharing of views and ideas and mental models commonly used by
By properly managing such brainstorming sessions, it is possible to produce a composite perspective on a common
problem. This composite perspective could lead to innovation and new knowledge.
Once new knowledge is created, it will be necessary to capture it so that it can be utilized.
Knowledge from outside the organization can be captured by accessing different sources such as publications, websites,
emails and the Internet.
Explicit knowledge from within and outside of the organization can be captured in various forms, such as printed reports,
record of meetings, copies of memos and the like.
A principal component of knowledge creation and capture is content management which involves the creation of an
2. KNOWLEDGE SHARING AND ENRICHMENT
It is during the process of sharing that knowledge is usually refined and enriched.
Knowledge can be shared by the organization with its employees (e.g., through memos and instructions) and sharing of
knowledge can occur between employees of the organization (e.g., through group discussions and internal meetings) as
well as with people outside of the organization (e.g., through attending seminars and workshops).
Knowledge sharing does not automatically take place, can be enhanced through the implementation of appropriate
technologies, operations and systems.
Communities of practice
A community of practice is a network of individuals with common problems or interests who get together to:
explore ways of working;
identify common solutions;
share good practice and ideas.
Communities of practice are organic and self-organizing, and should ideally emerge naturally, from the recognition of a
specific need or problem.
The challenge is to support them so they can create and share organizational knowledge.
▪ Why should you use a CoP?
A CoP provides an environment (virtual and/or face-to-face) that connects people and encourages the development and
sharing of new ideas and strategies.
This environment supports faster problem solving and cuts down on duplication of effort.
Moreover, technology allows people to network, share and develop practice entirely online (i.e., virtual communities),
which overcome the challenges of geographical boundaries.
▪ How to run a CoP?
A wide range of approaches can be used when creating and developing CoPs.
However, before setting up a community, there are a few main points to consider:
3. Roles and responsibilities
4. Interest and involvement
5. Creating and sharing knowledge
6. Moving forward