Session 7: Knowledge Management
Knowledge Management is a method of capturing value from the collective experience and information within an organization and COP (Communities of Practice) is an important tool for knowledge management. Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.
Communities of Practice have become associated with finding, sharing, transferring, and archiving knowledge, as well as making explicit “expertise”, or tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is considered to be those valuable context-based experiences that can not easily be captured, codified and stored. Because knowledge management is seen “primarily as a problem of capturing, organizing, and retrieving information, evoking notions of databases, documents, query languages, and data mining” , the community of practice, is considered a rich potential source of helpful information in the form of actual experiences; in other words, best practices. Thus, for knowledge management, a community of practice is one source of content and context that if codified, documented and archived can be accessed for later use.
Organizations recognize that knowledge is a critical asset that needs to be managed strategically. Katzenbach Partners also realized its significance and implemented a unique knowledge management system that exemplified the concept of COP (Communities of Practice).
The key elements of Katzenbach’s knowledge management strategy are:
- Connecting firm members- Many of the knowledge needs of firm members were best addressed through a conversation (exchange of tacit knowledge), which was then supplemented with documents.
- Managing resources (e.g., documents) - Enabling the team members to access relevant past interviews, presentations and research.
- Fostering intellectual capital development- Encouraging team members to ask questions such as “What kind of ideas is the firm working on today?”, “What kind of ideas is the firm not working on (but perhaps should be)?”, “What are related ideas that I should be learning about?”
Katzenbach Partners’ knowledge management strategy brought together expert practitioners who became the source of best practices of the organization. The strategy enabled junior team members to draw on the firm’s prior work, allowing senior team members to spend less time on basic instruction and more on leadership. This facilitated innovation by combining ideas developed on multiple clients.