What is knowledge management and how does it work?
Knowledge is a central resource of companies and knowledge management is an important factor for corporate success. In this blog post, we will explain to you what the definition of knowledge management is, what goals knowledge management pursues in general, what knowledge management methods are available and how you can set up efficient knowledge management in your company.
Knowledge and Knowledge Management: Definition
Knowledge is the totality of all knowledge and skills that an individual has to solve problems and tasks. Knowledge is therefore initially tied to a person and includes both hard (explicit) knowledge such as facts and data as well as soft (implicit) knowledge such as personal experiences, values and thought and behavior patterns.
Knowledge management is defined as a method to organize and use the totality of knowledge. The company needs a suitable strategy so that both the explicit knowledge and the implicit knowledge of employees are taken into account in knowledge management.
Objectives and benefits of knowledge management
As written above, knowledge is a key entrepreneurial resource. Many companies have recognized this and already cultivate a strong culture of knowledge: they value and preserve the existing knowledge of their employees in knowledge databases, ensure that new knowledge is introduced into the company through further training, take care of a well thought-out onboarding process for the employee Knowledge transfer and use process documentation, for example, to store and pass on knowledge.
These are all aspects of knowledge management, which pursues the following general goals:
- Information is made available quickly
Employees should be able to access knowledge from other work areas quickly and easily. As a result, they get answers to questions faster, spend less time searching for information and more time on their actual work and creating value, and can work more efficiently.
- Innovations are encouraged
Open access to knowledge and knowledge transfer between different departments and company units facilitate innovations and the development of new products and business models.
- Expertise can be found quickly
Knowledge management shortens the search for experts in the company and saves who has carried out which project and is familiar with certain topics. Misattributing expertise can also be avoided with knowledge management.
- Onboarding and familiarization are simplified and shortened
With knowledge management, you can shorten the training period by centrally storing and making accessible recurring processes and information for handovers or onboarding. New employees can then call up this information as needed (also multiple times).
- New knowledge can be disseminated more quickly
Further training and lifelong learning are an integral part of a work biography. Knowledge management ensures that investments in further and advanced training are worthwhile for the entire company. New knowledge is preserved, passed on and can be made usable for innovations.
- A positive corporate culture is encouraged
Investments in knowledge management not only have positive effects on competitiveness and corporate success. They also express appreciation for employees and their knowledge resources and can positively influence internal corporate communication and the development of corporate identity.
- Consistent quality is ensured
By storing the knowledge you have acquired and making it available for new projects and tasks, you ensure that your employees’ work is of consistently high quality. Good knowledge management ensures that all employees always access the same information, e.g. B. for work instructions or process descriptions and the content is up to date.
methods of knowledge management
In knowledge management, a general distinction is made between two methods of storing and passing on knowledge: codification and personalization.
Knowledge management through codification
Earlier we mentioned explicit knowledge, such as facts and dates. This kind of hard knowledge is relatively easy to write down and store, for example in a knowledge database. In general, codification means detaching knowledge from a person and transferring it to a document, for example. The knowledge is then available to everyone, it can be accessed and further developed.
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Knowledge management through personalization
Tacit knowledge such as individual behaviors or experiences are usually less suitable for codification. Knowledge that cannot be codified and stored is called personalized knowledge. This also plays an important role in knowledge management. Companies must ensure that framework conditions are created so that the tacit knowledge associated with a person is not lost, but can be passed on and used for innovations. New digital formats such as digital networks and instant messaging help here to promote direct personal contact for knowledge transfer.
Development of a knowledge management
You do not have to know everything. You just have to know where it is. Or as Albert Einstein is said to have put it: “Knowledge is knowing where it is written.” Knowledge management is about making stored knowledge easily searchable and findable. To achieve this, many companies choose a suitable knowledge base and establish best practices for building and maintaining this knowledge base.
Before you start, however, you should be aware that knowledge management must be a systematic and continuous process and part of a recurring routine and daily work processes in a company. In addition to tools and tools such as knowledge databases, knowledge management requires the cooperation of many areas of the company: from HR to management to IT.
Responsible for knowledge management
The human resources department manages the carriers of knowledge in a company: the employees and their skills. For this reason, HR is ideal for many companies for the coordination of knowledge management. However, depending on the size and nature of the organization, a dedicated position for knowledge management may also be created, often referred to as the Chief Information Officer (CIO). In addition to the management, which bears the main responsibility for knowledge management, the IT department plays an important role: the use of digital tools such as knowledge databases requires their expertise in terms of suitability, costs, support and maintenance.
knowledge management tasks
In order to be successful, knowledge management must fulfill these three tasks:
1. Store existing knowledge
Make sure that existing knowledge is stored systematically. In this way you avoid long search times for your employees or even the loss of knowledge and can increase the efficiency of the company. When storing knowledge, the use of a suitable knowledge management tool or a knowledge database plays a crucial role. But the structure and proper maintenance of such a database are also crucial for success, as is the training of employees in how to use it. Proper maintenance of metadata, categories and keywords, for example, ensures that the stored knowledge is searchable.
2. Enable knowledge transfer
Successful knowledge management ensures that knowledge is shared between employees, departments and even locations. The transfer of knowledge is often limited to one department, including the maintenance of separate knowledge databases. However, knowledge can only unfold its full power if it comes from various sources and is shared and further developed. Then innovations and the development of new knowledge are possible.
3. Contribute and develop new knowledge
New knowledge is constantly being created in a company, be it through external sources such as further training or attending conferences or through the exchange and further development of existing internal knowledge. Knowledge management ensures that this new knowledge is saved and introduced in the long term. This includes failure and unsuccessful projects, because the insights gained from this are also valuable knowledge.
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