March 09, 2009

Again with Knowledge Management

Thanks to Paul today, he reminded me that we need to blog during modules!

Anyway, I don't know why the subject of Knowledge Management is so in my mind and I am not sure why I keep thinking about Knowledge Management mostly. Maybe because I am working in an area where I think Knowledge Management could improve the work performance greatly.

I know that other Asset Management approaches or techniques are useful inside organizations as well, still I like KM the most!

Anyway, I have written before about a Document Management System, which could be actually used as a Knowledge Management System by companies as it is a free opensource system and could be implemented easily on any PC/Server.

Another way to do it is to have an intranet portal which could capture and share knowledge to people in the organization.

I am very interested in the issue of Knowledge Management even more now that we have gone through the seminar today that shed some light over this interesting subject.

I guess as Paul said, even though it sounds easy and so, it is still very hard to do it in real organizations. It would be interesting if there were any papers or books discussing the challenges related to the use of KM inside the organization.

I'd guess that some of the difficulties would be on how to motivate people so that they use the system with their own will rather than forcing the people to access the KM which could render this useless. Another difficulty would be to ask people working in teams or solving problems or improvements teams (like Six Sigma ones) to share and capture their own knowledge and experience so that people throughout the organization could use it.

I believe that the second point, at least for me is going to be a very difficult one since its related to the culture of the organization as well. In organizations where there are competition which I'd like to call (Negative) because it is basically a competition between administrations or departments within the same organization that doesn't add any value but in-fact work against the progress of the organization, which is something really spread out I guess in many places that I know of. This competition would make it very hard for departments and administrations that have competition between them to be able to share their experience in the organization which limit the use of KM to your own department or administration which really isn't that helpful if you compare the benefit from that to the benefit of sharing the knowledge throughout the whole organization that could consist of something like 40 departments or administrations!!!

I guess as Paul said, there is no reason not to implement what you think is usefull on your little area that you lead even if it is a small department if you can't implement it throughout the organization.

- 2 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Paul Roberts

    You raise interesting points Abdo. On programmes such as Management for Business Excellence we discuss and learn about lots of different tools and techniques which could be used to enhance the performance of any organization. Yet time and time again we find that the factor that constrains organizational improvement is unwillingness to share the power or empire that we have built in our organization. This internal competitiveness leads to the exact opposite at organizational level.

    Departments unwilling to share knowledge or support another department’s ideas for fear of enabling another department to ‘look good’ leads to sub-optimization of the whole organization or at an even wider level the value chain.

    Leadership at all levels in the organization is required to tackle this. Effective leaders understand that we are part of a system and by thinking and acting systemically we have the best chance of applying tools effectively to optimize the whole system. If we create a culture in which people understand that their career is not dependent on their department being the ‘best’ then we are probably at the first stage of creating an environment that is not internally competitive and is therefore disposed to share knowledge.

    How do you start this process if you are not the CEO and the organization does not have a culture of sharing? My view is that you are the CEO of the bit of the organization that you have been recruited to lead. Even if you are a small part of the organization, you can influence by example and as more and more people perceive the benefits of the way that you are leading your part of the organization so more will be inclined to depart from their win-lose, departmentally focused mentality.

    It may take time but building excellent organizations is neither easy nor short term. The key is to have constancy of purpose and to be prepared to lead.

    11 Mar 2009, 18:09

  2. Thank you for your input on this Paul, I have gained more confidence of what I am going to do because of this.

    I am eager to try and improve the little bit that I will be responsible for in the future, and even though there could be some slight resistance, I will try to explain myself and what I am trying to do clearly so people could buy in and support me, and hopefully one day, this will spread out to other areas in the University that I work at.

    12 Mar 2009, 20:41

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