Monday, July 24, 2017

Mastering Organizational Knowledge Flow (Book 24 of 30)

Title: Mastering Organizational Knowledge Flow: How to Make Knowledge Sharing Work
Author:  Frank Leistner

"Many organizations still struggle to make best use of the knowledge that exists within them.  While individuals might use their knowledge on a daily basis and for their decisions, frequently that knowledge is not shared and leveraged across the organization from one person to another.  A common notion of how to make this transfer of knowledge happen is via technical systems.  Those systems play a role as an enabler, but they are only one piece of the puzzle to make the flow of knowledge work in an organization.  This book looks at the other factors that are involved and specifically focuses on human aspects" (p. xv)

If We Only Knew What We Know (Book 3 of 30) was a way of saying we don't have a good handle on all the knowledge that our organization needs to effectively and efficiently pursue its mission. Getting a good handle of organizational knowledge can typically be achieved with a knowledge mapping activity.

A good knowledge mapping activity, however, doesn't limit itself to identifying critical knowledge domains and where critical knowledge resides within the organization.  A good knowledge mapping activity should pay attention to knowledge flows. As Siemens noted in Knowing Knowledge (Book 21 of 30), "Knowledge is a river, not a reservoir." This is where KM practitioners start talking about knowledge stocks (repositories, databases, knowledge artifacts) and knowledge flows (mechanisms to get knowledge from where it is to where it's needed).  You probably need both stocks and flows but many KM strategies have focused on stocks (capturing and storing explicit knowledge) and failed to adequately address flows or discovered that their attempts at facilitating knowledge flows through technology have floundered.

It's common to hear, even within the KM community that "Knowledge is power and therefore people don't want to share what they know."  I've found the opposite to be true.  Knowledge is one form of power and the best way to leverage that knowledge to one's advantage is precisely to share it and in the process, become a valued and respected colleague.  Still, some organizations are more prone to organizational silos and other organizational dysfunctions that impact the overall culture and the role of knowledge sharing within that culture.  A good KM diagnostic and knowledge mapping exercise would look at aspects of the culture that may support or impede knowledge flows so that they can be addressed.

This is also where Social Network Analysis (SNA) can prove useful (See Driving Results Through Social Networks - Book 4 of 30).  SNA, combined with knowledge mapping, can provide a solid foundation for the development of a comprehensive KM strategy.

Insight:  I can almost see the beginnings of an insight map appearing as the connections between all the concepts and ideas from these books are converging.

  • Integrate my knowledge stocks vs. knowledge flows visuals into relevant presentations.

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