An organisation’s knowledge is what its people and systems know and know-about and what the organisation has “captured” in any form. The purpose of knowledge is to make decisions to act, in order to generate desired outcomes.
Some knowledge is value adding while some is not. As an example, the score in a local soccer match in Mali in 1949 is information, however, in the Company’s context; it adds no value to the Company in determining or improving operations or outcomes.
Conversely, research has shown that consumer tastes are moving away from, say, beer products to wine products is an important knowledge-input because it has significant impact on the Company business at a number of levels. Such knowledge is value adding.
All organisations gather both value adding and non-value adding information. Problems occur when the ratio of valuable knowledge to non-valuable knowledge significantly impacts the quality of decision-making (too little mission-critical knowledge, or so much data that it is hard to identify the “important” information), and/or when the cost of managing (collecting, maintaining, disseminating) non-valuable knowledge becomes significant in terms of cost and effort.
From almost every perspective, the Company benefits if we can increase the amount of value-adding knowledge available to make decisions and decrease the amount of non-valuable knowledge that exists within the organisation.
Sometimes knowledge is readily available and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it’s written down (explicit), and sometimes it’s only in peoples’ heads (tacit).
Knowledge that helps make decisions that help the Company deliver its KPOs is termed “Mission-Critical Knowledge” and is more important to the organisation than knowledge that is not Mission-Critical, even if it may be useful at some non-specific time.
Know-how is the ability of doing something smoothly, effectively, and efficiently, and being able to repeat it often with the same result. Its about being expert in what you do.
The Company’s know-how is evident in a number of areas within the Company, such as its systems, processes, procedures, practices, guidelines, templates, examples, best-practice database, models, training programs, designs, plans, strategies, research, etc.
Know-how is the observable result of applying what you know to what you are trying to achieve (in the Company’s case, its organisational KPOs).
Know-how comes as a result of making a decision to act in a certain manner. The manner in which you act is considered the optimal way of achieving what you are trying to achieve in your context.
Knowledge without know-how is like understanding what is needed but not doing anything about it.
Know-how without knowledge is like doing something but not really knowing why or whether it’s the best way to achieve the desired outcome.
Some knowledge can be found within the Company (e.g. transaction records, customer details) while other knowledge resides outside the Company (e.g. CPI, propensity to spend data, GDP growth, interest rates, etc.).
A few years ago, a large multi-national client asked JCG to develop a model of Intellectual Capital for them. Out of that evolved a very powerful model for ‘Mission-Critical Knowledge Management’.
In a nutshell, JCG have developed a unique approach to Knowledge Management and Know-How that provides enormous operational and analytical power to management (and in particular performance improvement) by providing practical understanding and metrics about what each person in the organisation needs to know in order to make robust managerial decisions.
The methodology also uniquely harnesses mission-critical tacit knowledge.
Effective knowledge management is about identifying and securing the knowledge required to make the decisions needed to deliver the key performance objectives (outputs) associated with each role within the organisation. The methodology has been successfully applied within an NGO. The methodology is simple, can be web-based (or not).
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