Strategically Enabling Organizational Knowledge Management
Defining Knowledge Management
Knowledge management as a concept is receiving increased attention in the field of postsecondary education. But what is knowledge management, exactly?
APQC, a non-profit focused on the improvement of knowledge management (KM), defines KM as “a collection of systematic approaches to help knowledge flow to and between the right people at the right time (in the right format at the right cost) so they can act more efficiently and effectively to create value for the organization.”
As NCHEMS co-develops knowledge management frameworks with our partners, we focus on the intentional management of data, information, and knowledge. To clarify the differences between these terms, we have created the following definitions, adapted from definitions cited by the University of Minnesota Libraries and Dataversity.
Data are raw facts and figures, both qualitative and quantitative in nature. Data become information when they are presented in a context with relevance to one or more people at a point in time so that it can answer a question or support decision-making. Knowledge is information that has been retained with an understanding of the significance of that information and includes something gained by experience, study, familiarity, association, awareness, and/or comprehension.
Successful data, information, and knowledge management focuses on the following four components:
- People – who lead, sponsor, and support data, information, and knowledge sharing
- Processes – that assist people in managing the flow of data, information, and knowledge
- Technology – tools that help connect people to data, information, and knowledge in a timely manner
- Strategy – a developed and documented plan to implement KM across the organization
Some Lessons We Have Learned Through our Work in KM
- To signal the importance of taking intentional steps towards improving KM, leadership should broadly share a statement expressing its embrace of KM as having foundational importance to the organization. That statement should be followed by strategic investment in the aspects of people, processes, and technology.
- Each organization has unique KM needs, and the strategy should consider aspects of the organization such as mission, priorities, and culture.
- Scaffolding is important in KM – collaboratively assess the organization’s current state, imagine the ideal state, and develop a roadmap that breaks down improvements into manageable stages.
- Once you identify new technology or processes to improve KM, plan for providing ample training opportunities to team members.
- Pay close attention to data security. Postsecondary data often represent people and these data deserve to be treated respectfully and securely.
Knowledge Management Questions to Ask to and About Your Team
Consider reflecting on the following questions to better understand the current state, and potential areas for improvement, of knowledge management within your organization.
- People – What are the knowledge management goals of the organization and how do they advance the organization’s mission?
- Processes – What are the current knowledge management processes that promote data, information, and knowledge sharing and how can they be improved?
- Technology – What are the current technical systems with which team members are organizing and accessing data, information, and knowledge? How can these be better utilized to meet the knowledge management goals of the organization? Are there any needs that current tools are not able to meet?
- Strategy – What is the current knowledge management strategy as understood by members of the organization? How can it be improved and communicated to better serve the organization’s needs?
Having clearly articulated goals, objectives, and needs is necessary to develop and implement a knowledge management infrastructure that continues to support an organization’s mission over the long term. Our team has expertise in working with organizations to codevelop actionable roadmaps for institutionalizing best practices in KM.
Contact us today to schedule a conversation.