The exchange as well as the generation of knowledge within an organization; may be in the form of databases, best practice seminars, technology fairs, cross-functional teams, e-mails, and groupware.
"For more than a decade, Nancy has been providing strategic insights to ConocoPhillips' development of KM. Her initial ideas spawned the creation of our knowledge sharing program that is flourishing today. Nancy was instrumental in getting our executives onboard, convincing them that how a company connects and acts and operates like a global company should would drive additional business value. Today, Nancy is one of the top 5 thought leaders in the KM space...in the entire world." - Dan Ranta, Director, Knowledge Sharing, ConocoPhillips
Since the term “knowledge management” came into popular usage, there have been three significant eras in how organizations have thought about their knowledge. Each successive era has expanded the type of knowledge that organizations considered important without eliminating the need for and use of the previous type of knowledge.
The first era is Leveraging Explicit Knowledge and is about capturing documented knowledge and making it readily available - connecting people to content. The second category is about Leveraging Experiential Knowledge and it gave rise to communities of practice and reflection processes. It is primarily focused on tacit knowledge and connects people to people. The third category is Leveraging Collective Knowledge and it is about integrating ideas from multiple perspectives to create new knowledge and innovation. In the third era management values the sensemaking capabilities of employees, that is, the ability of employees to jointly make sense of complex situations.
Of course, management being interested in the opinions, ideas, and knowledge of employees is not new. Organizations have long made use of employee surveys, fireside chats, suggestions boxes, and town hall meetings to collect ideas from employees. But in the past management has reserved for itself the right to make sense of what was collected from employees. The subtext of such practices was, “Tell us [management] your concerns and suggestions and we [management] will figure out a way to fix it.” Now working with leading edge organizations are, by their actions, saying something quite different. Now I hear, “Let's convene the people who do this work and have them think together about how to make sense of this issue.”
A recent example of convening is a meeting I facilitated for NASA. Over the years each of the ten NASA Centers has grown its own KM strategy, quite independent of the other Centers and Offices. NASA administration, in recognition of the variability in the effectiveness of the various KM strategies, and spurred by a somewhat critical government report, appointed a CKO, Ed Hoffman, and asked him to develop a NASA-wide KM strategy. Ed is a seasoned KM professional, fully capable of developing such a strategy. But rather than doing that, he chose to convene a three-day meeting that brought together fifty KM professionals from across the ten NASA Centers, to think together about what the knowledge strategy of NASA should be. The meeting made use of the collective knowledge and analytic capabilities of the KM professionals.
Much of the consulting work of Common Knowledge Associates continues to deal with the second era, but increasingly we are also being called upon to help organizations create new knowledge. We are excited about the direction knowledge management is headed - drawing out deeper insights and more profound knowledge that can address the increasingly complex issues organizations are facing.