Managing knowledge in organizations

I have been plagued with a lot of runaway days lately. You can’t help but wonder where they are hiding out anyway? They must be with all the socks that get lost in the laundry… Anyway, I just got done checking second proofs of Christee Gabour Atwood’s upcoming book, Knowledge Management Basics, which is due to go press in the next two weeks. This is a nice little book that gets at the basics of knowledge management (which would explain why it’s part of the Basics series, I guess), explaining the rationale behind the practice and describing what you need to know to collect, verify, and maintain organizational knowledge. So what is the rationale behind knowledge management? Essentially the idea is that one the most valuable assets an organization has is the knowledge of its people, and that knowledge can walk out the door at any time. But knowledge management is more than just a way to hold onto to its assets, it’s a way to disseminate knowledge consistently throughout an organization. It allows employees to find out what they need to know fast and to find information that’s accurate and up to date. If done right, it also ensures that employees get the right information. I know I have worked in places where they do a process one way in one department and do it completely differently (and possibly erroneously) in another department. In other words, it has the potential to create a lot of efficiencies. To do it right, Atwood stresses that it isn’t about the technology (even though she does discuss a wide assortment of technology tools that can be used). If an organization’s culture doesn’t tend to use certain types of technology, then installing an expensive, high-tech system is going to be a waste of money and time. Instead, it’s about coming up with ways to collect the right data and get it verified, put it in a place where it’s going to be used, providing incentives to people for using and sharing information, and finally keeping it current. I find knowledge management to be a really interesting topic because it lets people find their own answers to questions and it allows a certain amount of standardization of processes in ways that make sense. It’s also a way to avoid having to reinvent the wheel every time that you start on a new project because you can find out how similar projects have been done before.

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