Knowledge Management Can Increase Your Organizational Productivity
Total Quality Management, Empowerment, Re-engineering, Six Sigma--and now the latest trend in business practices--Knowledge Management. For some, it's a trend that just hasn't quite gone away yet. For others, it's an evangelical cause and the critical factor in determining whether an organization will exist 5-10 years from now.
At the very least, it's a somewhat confusing label that's been stuck to a wide variety of software applications, conferences, books, consulting initiatives and magazine articles.
I had always considered Knowledge Management (KM) to exist in the realm of IT (and therefore something not to spend too much time thinking about) but the concept of Knowledge Management became more immediate to me during the generational research our team did. In the next 10-20 years, over one-third of the workforce will retire, and unless organizations do something now to start capturing what Baby Boomers know, there are going to be a lot of wheels reinvented.
You may already be engaged in KM projects, but just haven't put that label on them. After studying this topic, we determined that we had already undertaken several Knowledge Management initiatives in the last few years, under the auspices of cross-training and a company-wide commitment to research answers once (if possible).
We capture "How-To's" and store them for easy reference. When someone on our team "figures something out," we capture that process, document it and reference them often. When new members of the team are trained, we use the "How-To's" and then ask those same team members to refine them. This way our documentation is always up-to-date and makes sense to people who may have little or no context. This is only one of the ways we increase our teamwork skills.
The latest addition is our Idea Bank, a database in which we store, of course, ideas. Categorized by topic and easy to retrieve when we have time to make improvements to products, processes, or systems, the Idea Bank is open to everyone. We've learned that just because someone has a great idea, we're not always ready to implement it immediately--but we're always loathe to forget those ideas.
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