If you visited an organisation that had truly embraced and embedded Knowledge Management, what would you see? What would be different and distinctive about that organisation?
You would probably notice 3 things - an attitude, a habit, and a system.
The Knowledge Management attitudeThe difference in attitude you would see is that knowledge is treated as something important; something that is prioritised.Knowledge work, and KM activity, is seen as an important part of the job, and not an add-on or an option. You would notice that individuals are always keen to gain more knowledge, and not shy about sharing what they know.
The Knowledge Management habitAs well as a different attitude to knowledge, you would notice a difference in the work habits. When starting a new piece of work, instead of diving straight into the details, people think "Who has done this before? Who can I learn from, so that I don't start work with missing knowledge". They look for lessons, advice, recommendations and guidance.
Then when the work is compete, rather than diving straight into the next job, they think "What have I learned? Who can I share this with?". These work habits of learning, reflection and sharing are an outcome of the attitude mentioned above.
The Knowledge Management System/FrameworkThen they have a management system, or management framework, that allows them to learn and share. They have communities of practice which they can ask for advice and recommendations. They have portals and wikis they can go to, to find the best guidance. They have lessons management systems which warn them of pitfalls and alert them of new solutions. They have great enterprise search which leads them to the explicit knowledge they need. They have forums for sharing new knowledge, and for recording new lessons and new practices. They know where to find these tools, and are accustomed to their use.
What you probably would not notice is any mention of Knowledge Management.In an organisation with fully embedded KM, you don't hear a lot of mention of "Knowledge Management". However you hear a lot about the tools and processes.
Instead of people saying "we must do KM", you hear "We should hold an AAR", "We should ask the Community", "Why don't we look on the wiki", "Let's put a question on the forum".
Much in the same way that everyone talks about budgets and invoices rather than "Financial Management", so the conversation is now about the activities and the tools and not about the system itself. "Knowledge Management" takes a back seat, and is represented at the work-face by .
That's what Knowledge Management looks like when fully embedded - an Attitude, new Habits, and a familiar set of activities and tools which have become part of the way people work.