Knowledge is the New Currency!

Using knowledge flows to leverage the richness of interactions within and outside the organization

Knowledge is the New Currency!’, is the punch line of a Financial Services Company. The slogan actually summarizes what Knowledge Management can do! If only this slogan was better understood and taken to heart by organizations. There would be extraordinary boost in productivity, increase in employee retention and improved customer engagement- to mention just a few benefits.

Few corporate leaders in India have a deep understanding of the vital lubricating and catalytic role Knowledge plays as it flows through the Organization. And they are not aware how to harness this currency. So more money is thrown into Trainings, more effort is put into cost cutting and higher budgets are given to social media- because everyone is doing it! It is a safe option. If there was a better understanding how the knowledge flows happen, I am sure the same efforts and investments would be better directed with superior results.

Organizations are complex systems constantly interacting with each other. It becomes complicated when one sees the insecurities getting played out by way of internal politics when viewed from the inside!

But at heart, an organization is actually Knowledge constantly getting exchanged between the Organization, Employees and the external world which includes Customers. The beauty of knowledge is that, the more knowledge is transacted, the more it grows in value- for both- the giver and the receiver. Knowledge does not leave the giver when shared. At times it gets enriched with insights during the transfer. Thus, unlike physical assets which depreciate with use, Knowledge appreciates.

It is important to be aware that Knowledge is flowing within the organization, among individual employees, AMONG CUSTOMERS and from group to the other. By just harnessing these knowledge flows effectively, organizations can benefit tremendously with the very same investments.

To give an example of knowledge flows: Social Media is touted as an opportunity for organizations to connect with customers. So organizations have Facebook Pages, Twitter Accounts and Blogs to name a few. Unlike TV and Press advertisements which were One Way, Social Media is not just 2 way (Company to customer; Customer to Company) BUT CUSTOMER TO CUSTOMER as well. So it can have major repercussions if there is no thought-through strategy. An unaddressed customer ‘tweet’ can change the mood. But if used well, it can enhance the customer engagement and create actual bonding with the company. Anand Mahindra is one leader who easily comes to mind who uses Twitter effectively. At times when a customer tweets a complaint – not only does he direct the complaint to his team in real time- he also ‘retweets’ the customer message when it is resolved. Frito Lays engages customers by sourcing recipes from them. This is an example of knowledge flow that taps into the customer’s positive disposition to the organization.

Within the Company, efforts to increase knowledge flows among individual employees pays rich dividends. While the organization structure creates formal flows, it is the informal networks that enrich the fabric of the business. Creating opportunity through multi-disciplinary projects, having online discussion forums open to those interested in a topic, generating occasions for employees to contribute their thoughts on organization issues- irrespective of position; are great ways to tap into and leverage these flows.

There are many more dimensions and examples of Knowledge Flows. But given the need for brevity we will leave the discussion open for comments.

And let’s all work to ensure that ‘Knowledge IS the New Currency!’