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Knowledge Management

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KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT Abstract There is the tendency to consider Knowledge Management as yet another buzz-word. It is gaining substantial interest in many differing circles. In order to move away from a buzz-word approach (i.e. "it's just a different name for something we do already") it's important to define what exactly we mean by Knowledge Management, how it is different to Information Management, and suggest some practical approaches to managing the processes and assets of a Knowledge organisation. This paper follows the line of argument through a definition of KM, the reasons it is needed and some ways to approach the task. The What and Why of KM In order to propose a method of Knowledge Management it is important to define what we are considering Knowledge Management to be and outline its importance as we enter the 21st Century. What is it? Knowledge :~ '1.the facts, feelings or experiences known by a person or group of people 3.awareness, consciousness, or familiarity gained by experience or learning 5.specific information about a subject'. Management :~'4. the skillful or resourceful use of materials, time etc.' Management has unfrotunate connotations with firm control. It is more healthy to take the wider view of skillful or resourceful use of knowledge by all the organisations' stakeholders. Knowledge Management is therefore about stakeholders using the organisations' experiences and learning. ...read more.


At a recent TeamIT meeting the paradigm shift was discussed and ages were classified and compared on some factors, as part of a workshop by Jeff Conklin of Corporate Memory Systems Inc., TE, USA. The table that was brainstormed is presented here in Table 1. Age of Science Age of Design Process of Understanding Descriptive-Prescriptive Creative Aims and End Result There is a right answer Ownership/Participation Task breakdown Individualistic Social Nature of problems solved Tame problems Wicked problems Method of working Process of GAFI* Shared understanding Approach Reductionism Holism *GAFI= Gather, Analyse, Formulate theories and Implement This new paradigm is emerging from the realisation that the "age of science" has been invaluable to creating the world we now inhabit but which can be a limiting approach to understanding the world. Knowledge is one such case since we are dealing with experiences, awareness and learning. These three terms tend to be seen as 'weak' by science, but as important socially constructed (?sociology reference?) phenomena to be maximised under the new paradigm. Rather than replacing the paradigm of science, it is suggested that a new age will subsume it. Science is valuable and can't be thrown away but we need more. For knowledge management this means that we rest on the important breakthroughs of 'scientific' research in computer systems, databases and artificial intelligence for information management, but that knowledge management is a separate unique process requiring more than formal methods and storage mechanisms. ...read more.


do not come naturally to organisations. It is useful to see why. Some Barriers to Knowledge Management The social approach inspired by the Age of Design is contradictory to many of the characteristics of Global organisations. All social groupings are in some way bounded by their physical, cultural, structural and chronological environment. Some of these boundaries are legacies of scientific management, and may eventually wane, but many are implicit within global organisations. There is no fix for the fact that employees in Australia and the UK do not share a working day. There are ways of reducing the effects (e.g. using CSCW systems) but nothing that can promote a complete shared workspace like two people in an office. The second and more complex problem for Organisational Knowledge Management is that much of the knowledge is tacit. Tacit knowledge is excellent for routine tasks, but where organisations need to assess their knowledge, build on it and re-store it, it is essential to make this knowledge explicit. This is a complex process for individuals and one faced in our day-to-day learning. The organisation as a whole must enable all it's groups and individuals to make their knowledge explicit to gather a combined memory which will in turn become tacit to the organisation. Future Knowledge Management efforts then face the task of making the shared memory explicit before building on it further. ...read more.

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