Monday 13 April 2015

The "working team" dimension in KM

We hear a lot about communities of practice and social networks in Knowledge Management, but we should not lose sight of the other dimension of the knowledge equation - the work teams.

Work teams are often the way work gets done in organizations, and a team of knowledge workers is effectively a knowledge team. Any complete knowledge management framework needs to cover the team dimension, because teams create knowledge, and teams use knowledge.

Teams create knowledge

Knowledge comes from activity—you learn from experience, from ‘doing things’. In most of the companies to which Knoco consults, ‘things are done’ by teams. In the oil industry, construction industry, engineering, mining, television, etc, most of the big work is done by multidisciplinary teams, and therefore, the organisational unit for reviewing that work is the team.

Some of the more familiar methods for Knowledge creation and capture within a team/activity/project environment are the after action review and the retrospect. These are processes for structured discussions between the team members to identify any new lessons and new knowledge which has been created during the activity or the project.

Teams apply knowledge

Teams create knowledge, but they also consume knowledge. They need to learn from others in order to perform their tasks effectively. Team learning can be organised through the use of a Knowledge Management plan, and will involve processes such as Peer Assist where the team talks with other experienced practitioners to draw on their lessons.

Communities of practice share knowledge

If the work teams create and apply knowledge, then the role of the communities of practice and the social media is to provide a mechanism to transfer this knowledge from one work team to another.

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