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Knowledge Management & Information Technology July 19, 2009

Posted by stewsutton in Collaboration, Communications, Community, Information Technology, Knowledge Management, Stewardship.
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How can improvements to organizational knowledge management be realized most efficiently:

  1. By integrating the available information technology services made available by the enterprise?
  2. By representing the requirements of new information technology services and designing these services?
  3. By coordinating the priority of specific information technology services via organizational governance?
  4. By overseeing the implementation and project management of information technology services?
  5. By taking an active role in the daily operations of information technology services?

This may be a rhetorical question for some and for others it may be the critical question that establishes balance to their knowledge management program.  Within every organization, the staff coordinating knowledge management may find a slightly different home base. The typical locations for where to host the knowledge management function vary across industries and across different organizations within those industries.  Here are some typical host locations for the knowledge management function and the general emphasis when they have that hosting organization:

  • Human Resources – focus is on organizational development and human capital management
  • Engineering – focus is on improving sharing and stewardship of explicit technical knowledge
  • Administration – focus is on performance of knowledge sharing across the enterprise
  • Information Technology – focus is on the technical service or solution that improves staff collaboration
  • Standalone – focus is toward improving organizational performance through knowledge sharing

Each hosting location provides a different organizational emphasis and all have some relationship toward information technology. Only one has a specific focus on improvement of IT services.  The other hosting locations for KM have a relationship with IT but it is not the primary focus.  Which location can provide the most effective home for KM?  That depends it seems on the performance of the IT organization.  If the IT organization has the capability to deliver innovative solutions with great efficiency, then there is the potential for a great partnership between KM and IT without KM being directly nested within the IT organization.  If however, the IT organization struggles to deliver capabilities that are essential for efficient knowledge capture and knowledge sharing, then another arrangement may be necessary.

Consider the questions on how to improve KM within the culture of your organization and comment on where you think it has the most effective influence and the most effective hosting location to deliver that influence.



1. coherencyarchitect - September 28, 2009

Hi !
Well I would like to mention that your views on “knowledge management” is very interesting; however I think you fail to mention how strategy and knowledge strategy has a great influence on how the organizations (business, non-profit, NGOs etc.) organize their knowledge management.
This is of course not to mention the influence the employees of the organization have on what sort of knowledge strategy that would be the most profitable. E.g., if the organization employs individuals who are undergraduates who work with routine processes or work which are somehow standardized e.g., accounting vs. an organization who employs individuals who are graduates or posses doctor’s degrees and work with highly complex tasks which can’t be easily standardized.

Best regards,

stewsutton - September 28, 2009

Very good points. Especially the emphasis on the employees without which there would be no knowledge creation engine within the enterprise. Knowledge forming, re-forming, and transforming is a continuous process. When you are not learning, and growing, you are in a state of decline (individually and organizationally). Tasking is a complex topic. The routine tasks actually are executed in accordance with explicit knowledge, while more complex tasks will likely draw upon prescriptive knowledge that is difficult to wire into specific procedures (but both draw on knowledge). Knowledge required for the more routine, can largely be acquired from topical study, while the tribal knowledge that differentiates a brand is generally acquired via job experience. So the transfer of these two types of knowledge vary in cost. One can be transferred by books while the other requires a dedicated effort within the workplace, often at the additional cost of “organizational productivity”. This painful truth of knowledge transfer (the cost associated specifically) is often ignored (especially in tough economic times).

2. coherencyarchitect - September 30, 2009

Perhaps in this case it would be advisable to make use of Nonaka’s framework for how knowledge is diffused. It might aid you in communicating your point of view to potential clients, students etc.

Best regards,

stewsutton - September 30, 2009

Good point. According to Professor Ikujiro Nonaka, knowledge creation is a spiraling process of interactions between explicit and tacit knowledge. The interactions between both explicit and tacit knowledge result in the creation of new knowledge. Thank you for the reference. I provided a viable URL reference to that theory.

3. J Jeyaseelan - April 15, 2010

One of the key challenges that enterprises face in KM is in the area of providing effective interfaces for tapping in to external knowledge. While it is legitimate for each enterprise to focus on own KM requirements, it would be far easier for them to do so if the global repositories like Internet and interaction mechanisms like web 2.0 are better organized. We certainly need alternative KM frameworks to make it easy for every one to apply it. You may read more about it at http://infotwines.wordpress.com

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