Knowledge Mismanagement

A July 6, 2000 article in the Management Executive section of The London Times discusses the failure of organizations to make full use of knowledge management (KM). Companies are not yet making full use of internal knowledge sources (employees, customers, vendors, and intellectual capital such as licenses and patents owned by the company) to achieve a competitive advantage.

The Times reports that despite thousands of pages of advice on the subjects and millions of pounds spent on promotion and implementation, the expected benefits of KM have not been realized.

The Problem:

According to experts, the problem (at least in part) is that companies have put knowledge management into the hands of their technical people (rather than their human resources practitioners) who develop tools for information collection and storage and build databases of information.

These companies are managing information, not knowledge.

Knowledge is more than information. Knowledge is more than the people who have information. Knowledge is also the network of relationships which those people have within and outside the organization.

The Solution:

To exploit this knowledge, companies must build TRUST from the top so that the proprietors of the knowledge (the employees) will feel comfortable sharing what they know. In a world of "volunteer employees," people invest their knowledge and expertise in companies that give the best return. If better returns are available elsewhere they will move on.

The Times concludes that most companies have only scratched the surface of KM and need to address these human issues before they can reap the benefits.