Knowledge Management or KM is turning out to be the proverbial Elephant surrounded by the blind men. Much has been written on what it is, how useful it is and so on but then there is no definite success formula. One of the major reasons for this ambiguity is that people have yet to define knowledge. While most of us think a completed task constitutes knowledge, what we fail to understand is that real knowledge resides in how the task was completed. The reusability of such knowledge is very high and can form the much needed knowledge platform.
To look at some examples in a technical organisation, some people would think knowledge ideally resides in the minds of professionals and the documents that they churn out. While this might work in certain quarters, what can really work is a collaboration and a capture of ideas while the documentation (documents, presentations, .pdf files and more) is being created.
Email exchanges, discussions, and external research links constitute a huge portion of the knowledge which floats around in an organisation. One classic example is technical documentation in technology organisations. While the finished documents constitute a chunk of knowledge, a larger chunk remains in the ‘journey’ of the documentation. Reusability of this knowledge helps in reducing the timelines for similar activities in the future and also helps build a series of best practices.
It is important for organisations to establish methods by which such useful yet undocumented knowledge is saved and shared for future activities.