By: Dr Ida Yasin (email@example.com)
In a global economy where company performance and competitiveness hinges on how effectively we capture and leverage knowledge assets, Knowledge Management (KM) has become a competitive necessity. Three key reasons why actively managing knowledge is important to a company’s success. Firstly, it facilitates decision-making capabilities; secondly, it builds learning organisations by making learning routine; and, thirdly, it stimulates cultural change and innovation.
What is knowledge?
Knowledge is an understanding of or information about a subject that we get by experience or study.
Knowledge may be divided into two distinct types, explicit and tacit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is expressed in formal language, words, symbols and numbers. In a company, explicit knowledge can be stored in a database that allows the data to be transmitted easily.
Tacit knowledge, which is difficult to express in formal language, comes with experience, perceptions and individual values and depends on the context in which it is generated. These characteristics, make tacit knowledge a source of sustainable competitive advantage. However, the same characteristics may hinder the dissemination of tacit knowledge within the company.
Knowledge Management is defined as an integrated approach of creating, sharing and applying knowledge to enhance company profitability, productivity and growth.
Nowadays, technology has progressed to the point where information can be quickly shared and built upon, dramatically increasing the number of potential contributors to any initiative. KM creates a foundation and framework for the storage and, perhaps most importantly, the connection and sharing of explicit knowledge within a company.
Besides, for it to become an effective source of competitive advantage it is essential that tacit knowledge also be transferable within a company. Consequently, companies are increasingly intensifying their search for ways to transfer knowledge among their employees and prevent the loss of company’s knowledge. There are various tools and techniques to gain a ‘quick win’ within a company implementing KM.
In doing so, it has to take into account the rightful way of managing company’s knowledge that nurtures ethical, responsible and accountable decision-making as a basis, which is called Human Governance. It recognises that businesses are more than just a profit-churning machines, they are also enablers of societal well-being.
She is a Senior Lecturer of Putra Business School lecturing to MBA students. She is a registered expert with the Asian Productivity Organization, Tokyo. She has worked in the area of knowledge management, productivity and business excellence with the public and private sectors the past 22 years.