Knowledge management is still a tough pill to swallow for many people. So I’ve been trying to find a better way to explain what it is and why it’s so important. The below is what I put together so far.
Within the organizational system, knowledge management focuses on the organization’s human capital. Knowledge management is supported by activities associated with learning management and training management. Within the organizational system, knowledge management, information management, and data management provide the organization with the means to achieve agility and remain dominant within its sector of business. So what is knowledge?
We know that data are facts. We also know that data grouped together can produce some information; therefore information is data in context. But, if that information has no value for the person using it, it’s just information and nothing more. That makes knowledge information that has value to the person or organization using it. I’m not saying anything so far that hasn’t been said before.
What probably has not been socialized much is the fact that data, information, and knowledge all exist simultaneously within the same space. The hierarchy that we place data, information, and knowledge within only exists because human beings organize themselves that way. Therefore, what may be knowledge at one level in a hierarchy may only be data or information at a higher level within the hierarchy. In a flat organization, data, information, and knowledge exist within a patchwork of networks. In one place you’ll have data, in another you’ll have information, and these two may exist within another network as knowledge. This should spark another stream of discussions regarding how we organize ourselves.
How it (data) is used determines what it is, or rather what it becomes at any given moment. The ability to control and manage this transformation is what organizations should be focused on.
The existence of data, information, and knowledge is directly tied to the type of medium, system, and environment it will be used in. The various agents within a system provide the means for one or the other to exist (i.e. you need people in your system if you want to develop knowledge). So how does this system work?
Example: The human being is a self-contained, self-organizing system. We take in data through one of our five senses and once grouped, we generate information about our environment. We later reflect on this information to produce some knowledge about what is going on and how we should react. The question most people ask is can you manage knowledge? I’ll answer with a question and ask can you control any of the variables in this example? If the answer is yes, then you can manage knowledge.
The organization as a larger system composed of human beings – or individual self-contained, self-organizing systems – requires management in order to produce the same effect, described in the above example, for the organization.
I hope this was easy to understand. It is a part of the information and knowledge management strategy I am designing for my organization.