I have often been asked by prospective clients who should lead the KM effort in their organization.
I have also seen a few KM programs getting delayed because there was dissention as to who within the organization should lead the function. (Actually the issue is that no-one wants to take ownership
This dilemma boils down to the confusion as to what is KM and the objectives the organization wishes to achieve through the KM initiative.
Organizations constantly generate knowledge in the normal course of business. When employees interact with customers, knowledge is generated. When employees interact with each other more knowledge is produced. When the organization interacts with external entities – Customers, vendors, government – knowledge is produced. In every interaction internally or externally knowledge is getting generated.
Over time, repeatedly used knowledge gets embedded in the organization in the form of culture, and in its systems & processes. Part of the knowledge resides in individuals who gain expertise in functional areas. The Organization starts to display a ‘character’ which is the sum of its knowledge residing in People (Human Capital), Processes (Structural Capital) and Relationships (Relational Capital also known as Customer Capital). This becomes its Intellectual Capital. (See diagram above)
Knowledge Management is a conscious decision to efficiently harness this wealth of Intellectual Capital. It takes the form of a KM Initiative when the enterprise consciously and comprehensively gathers, organizes, shares, and analyzes its knowledge in order to build employee capability and Organization competitiveness.
All organizations possess Human Capital, Structural Capital and Relational Capital in differing proportions. However depending on the type of industry there may be a tendency to emphasize one over the other. A Manufacturing organization tends to stress on Structural Capital (broadly indicated by the obsession with TQM, 6 Sigma etc); A Consulting organization puts emphasis on its Human Capital (indicated by the efforts to improve the competence and effectiveness of its consultants); A Service provider gives importance to Relational Capital (Placing significant value on customer experience and feedback).
The depending on the type of industry and the focus of the KM Program- on Human Capital or Structural Capital or Relational Capital- the person to lead the KM effort should be chosen. This alignment enables faster adoption within the organization.
If you have any further insights, do leave a comment.