Why KM - the importance of knowledge management

Why Knowledge Management?

Before we start to explore and understand the details of what knowledge management is, and how to implement knowledge management projects and initiatives, we need to first ask ourselves why we want to consider knowledge management in the first place?

What are the real benefits that can be gained from effective knowledge management for the individual, the team, the entire organization, the community, the nation, or even the entire planet Earth?

Knowledge management is far reaching. Maybe you are considering developing your own personal knowledge management competencies, to become a more effective player in the global knowledge economy, or becoming a more competitive knowledge leader and knowledge driven organization.

Maybe you wish to develop and apply knowledge management strategies to government, military operations, global poverty eradication, international disaster management and even, now, knowledge management for global climate change.

The list is endless. Knowledge management is applied today across the world, in all industry sectors, public and private organizations and humanitarian institutions and international charities.

Most importantly, effective knowledge management is now recognised to be 'the key driver of new knowledge and new ideas' to the innovation process, to new innovative products, services and solutions.

Read the paper 'From Knowledge to Innovation' here

Once we can understand the value and benefits to be gained, we will then become far more motivated to look further at the implementation of knowledge management. Doing ‘knowledge management’ for knowledge management’s sake is likely to produce a failure, or mediocre results at very best.

Knowledge management, as a discipline, must result in better achieving, or even exceeding, your objectives. The purpose of knowledge management must not be to just become more knowledgeable, but to be able to create, transfer and apply knowledge with the purpose of better achieving objectives.

How can we better achieve objectives with effective knowledge management?

Well, for a start, effective knowledge management should dramatically reduce costs.Most individuals, teams and organizations are today continually ‘reinventing the wheel’. This is often because they simply do not know that what they are trying to do has already been done by elsewhere. They do not know what is already known, or they do not know where to access the knowledge. Continually reinventing the wheel is such a costly and inefficient activity, whereas a more systematic reuse of knowledge will show substantial cost benefits immediately.

But as well as reducing costs, effective knowledge management should also dramatically increase our speed of response as a direct result of better knowledge access and application.

Effective knowledge management, using more collective and systematic processes, will also reduce our tendency to ‘repeat the same mistakes’. This is, again, extremely costly and inefficient. Effective knowledge management, therefore, can dramatically improve quality of products and/or services.

Better knowing our stakeholder needs, customer needs, employee needs, industry needs, for example, has an obvious immediate effect on our relationship management.

So it is very easy to see how effective knowledge management will greatly contribute to improved excellence, which is to:

a) dramatically reduce costs

b) provide potential to expand and grow

c) increase our value and/or profitability

d) improve our products and services

e) respond faster

Knowledge simply underpins everything we do.

But the benefits of knowledge management for improved excellence, is simply ‘one side of the coin’. There is more.

Effective knowledge management, especially accelerated knowledge creation, is the driver for innovation. Increasingly, products and services are becoming ‘smarter’ and more knowledge based.

Our ability to better collaborate in physical and virtual teams, as knowledge workers, is driving the process of new knowledge creation. Ideas can now be turned into innovative products and services much faster.

As organizations, we are learning faster, and that means that individuals are learning faster. People are developing their competencies and confidence faster in organizations that practice effective knowledge management.

In summary, we simply cannot afford not to mainstream, to embed and embody knowledge management principles, strategies, policies, processes, methods, tools and technologies into our daily personal, team and organizational lives.

The Knowledge Economy is the next booming economy in a world of recession

In a world that is facing economic recession many are starting to ask ‘What is going to be the next booming economy, what are its characteristics and, how will it help us to grow out of recession?’

At knowledge-management-online.com we strongly suggest that the next booming economy is already here! It’s the rapidly growing global knowledge economy!

More individuals, teams, organizations and inter-organizational networks will be restructuring and renewing themselves with the primary purpose of profitably trading their knowledge to add even higher value, predominantly on the World Wide Web.

Already we see more enlightened organizations developing and applying the knowledge they have about their industry, customers, partners and stakeholders, as their prime strategic asset, and at the highest point in the value chain. And many are becoming less involved, and more open to profitably outsourcing the other business operations.

Around the world we hear automobile companies talking far more about their critical and key knowledge areas of design, knowledge of manufacturing , knowledge of distribution, knowledge of service and support etc as their ‘crown jewels’ or ‘master recipe’.

Based on applying this key knowledge they then outsource the other business components. We hear the same from the aerospace industry, the oil and gas industry, the information technology industry, the food and agricultural industry, the healthcare industry, in fact most, if not all, industries.

Our knowledge mantra is 'know and apply what you know the best, and link to the best of the rest'

Knowledge has become the key strategic asset for the 21st Century and for every organization that values knowledge it must invest in developing the best strategy for identifying, developing and applying the knowledge assets it needs to succeed.

Every organization needs to invest in creating and implementing the best knowledge networks, processes, methods, tools and technologies. This will enable them to learn, create new knowledge, and apply the best knowledge much faster.

Every individual who wishes to successfully participate in the rapidly growing global knowledge economy must now consider the development of their personal knowledge management competencies as an ‘essential life skill’ for the 21st Century.

It has been said many times, ‘knowledge will radically and fundamentally transform economies’.

One thing is absolutely certain in this rapidly changing world.

The best knowledge will always be in demand.

In, say, fifty years time you can be certain of one thing. Leaders of economies, industries and organizations will always be very interested in finding new and better ways to create and apply knowledge.

Effective Knowledge Management is a timeless and changeless principle.

The strategies, methods and tools of knowledge management will undoubtedly change, but the timeless principles will, of course, remain unchanged.

And to survive and succeed in the new global knowledge economy, we must become far more effective and more productive. We must always strive for the best relations and highest quality.

To do that, the successful organizations and individuals will not allow themselves to keep ‘re-inventing the wheel’ or ‘repeating the same mistakes. This is so costly and, we suggest that good leaders will simply not tolerate, nor be able to afford, such cost inefficiencies caused by knowledge gaps and bad knowledge flows.

Would the global financial crisis have been prevented or minimized with far more effective global knowledge management?

Finally, those individuals and organizations that can best sense, become quickly alerted to, find, organize, and apply knowledge, with a much faster response time, will simply leave the competition far behind.

All of this can only be achieved through good knowledge leadership that understands the unchanging timeless principles for knowledge, that transforms individuals and organisations to become far more responsive and effective players in a growing knowledge economy.

Knowledge Management is for everyone.

Global and/or Planetary Knowledge Management is becoming a reality today.

It is our belief that the knowledge economy is rapidly becoming the largest and most successful and sustainable economy in the world.

Why chose knowledge management?

Today, some see knowledge management as a choice. Today, those that work with knowledge very well are considered extraordinary.

Those that fail to understand knowledge management will consider it as ‘extra effort’ to our main work, or consider it a passing fad. They will risk ‘throwing the baby out with the bathwater’.

We predict that effective and extraordinary knowledge management, at all levels, for the individual, team, organization and global community will naturally become mainstream and ordinary, as the only way to successfully develop and grow for the future

More articles and reports on the importance of knowledge development to the national economies, and knowledge management to organizations and individuals, can be found as follows:

More articles on knowledge management

Report from World Bank Institute -'Measuring Knowledge in the World's Economies'

Ron Young

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