Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The four business focus areas for KM

We all know you shouldn't talk to business staff in KM-speak, but in the language of the business. We also all know we should focus our KM efforts on business benefits. But what are those benefits? And how do you describe them in business-speak? Basically there are 4 areas of benefit, as shown on the picture to the right; innovation, collaboration, standardisation and retention

Innovation is about creating new knowledge, and learning new things. This is the are where you need to create innovation communities and learning communities, where you put in place action learning programs and knowledge acquisition programs.

Collaboration is about pulling together the knowledge you already have in order to find better approaches, through communities of practice, and through project-based learning processes.

Standardisation is also about pulling together the knowledge you already have, but in this case the purpose is to find a best standard approach which the company can stand behind. Of course you would only do this with a very mature knowledge area, but the value of standardisation is well known.

Retention is about holding onto the knowledge you have, through a systematic approach to knowledge retention and harvesting.

The business can understand all these, and can clearly graps the benefits. Knowledge Management then needs to support the business, and to deliver the benefits.

1 comment:

Ivan Webb said...

Interesting post Nick and I can see why it would appeal to those who use business speak - it implies KM as knowledge 'production', 'processing', 'acquisition', 'change factors', ...

On the other hand I hold the view that we continually construct and reconstruct our knowledge, actions and arrangements. This is done moment by moment and context by context, albeit from our (and other's) observations and existing notions which may be include forms of concepts, data and information.

In doing so we are often 'converting' data into information into knowledge and back again!! To be useful the flow needs to be dynamic. After all, with the exception of engineering type matters, all data is historical. In contrast the value of knowledge is future based - knowing what to do (and what not to do) next.

At all stages we are applying action learning in one form or another.


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