Better knowledge management key
One of the key characteristics of a good leader is being able to spot the otherwise unseen potential in others and draw it out in order to help accomplish a particular goal or vision.
For the manager, being able to streamline the knowledge and skills of subordinates and same-level peers to accomplish the objectives of the firm is likewise critical to success.
In order for both the leader and the manager to accomplish the above, they must be able to have a good grasp on knowledge management, particularly in this age of data overload.
According to David Garvin, author of “Learning in Action: A Guide to Putting the Learning Organisation to Work”, he explains that three key reasons why actively managing knowledge is important to a company’s success are: the facilitation of decision-making capabilities; the building of learning organisations by making learning routine; and the stimulation of cultural change and
Highlighting why it is important to build a learning organisation, Garvin made the point in his book that “To move ahead, one must often first look behind”. He pointed to the US Army’s After Action Reviews (AARs) as an example of a knowledge management system that has helped build that organisation by making learning a routine. We are told that the Army has created a culture where everyone continuously assesses themselves, their units and their organisation, looking for ways to improve.
He also points out that after every important activity or event, teams review assignments, identify successes and failures, and seek ways to perform better the next time. The approach therefore helps to build organisational knowledge through learning experiences that can propel the organisation forward.
This, we feel, should be embraced by both public and private sector bodies in a greater way if we want to see the higher levels of productivity needed to generated a better economic performance.
In his remarks earlier this week, Dr. Stephen Boyce, Programme Manager (Education) – Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, made the point that the use of knowledge management required a fundamental shift in the country’s understanding of and relationship with knowledge.
Boyce stated during the first Knowledge Management Stakeholder Consultation of the Barbados Human Resource Development (HRD) Strategy, that such as change would come with several implications and challenges. One of the challenges could be the way some of our organisations engage their employees through performance reviews, team assessments, internal collaboration and knowledge sharing. Too often, a dichotomy presents itself in that, while companies can feel the pressure of having under-engaged employees threaten the success of their operations, some employees are under-engaged because there is no outlet for them to improve themselves or to bring to the table their full line-up of expertise to the benefit of the organisation.
A successful knowledge management system requires managers to be willing to step out the hierarchical top-down approach to knowledge sharing. Vertical, inter-departmental and even external-internal flows of information assure far better decision-making.
As Dr. Boyce said, making decisions “based solely on the data available within the confines of that agency, instead of knowledge that may be gleaned from other sources”, cannot work effectively. “In a modern economy, knowledge can no longer be containerised in this fashion,” he said.
The public service seems most plagued by this, which is quite unfortunate given that so much depends on the ability of multiple wheels in government to be moving at the same time. But all organisations can benefit from a measure of rigid introspection to see how well they are managing the critical resource of knowledge.