Knowledge Management

1 January 2017

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It involves applying the collective knowledge and abilities of the entire workforce to achieve specific organizational objectives. State agencies should feel free to adapt and use information and tools on the following pages as necessary within their organization. It is provided to be a starting point for sharing knowledge and experience, allowing those who remain with the organization to continue providing quality service. Capturing and sharing critical knowledge and expertise should be occurring continuously among employees.

In many cases, however, it is not and this need becomes pressing when a valued employee is preparing to retire or change positions. When an organization is considering implementing a knowledge transfer plan it is important to answer several questions: 1. Is the organization going to fill the vacant position or reassign the duties? 2. Are all the duties of the position still important to the mission of the organization? 3. Is there a need to update the position description? 4. Will the position change, remain as is, or be eliminated once the employee leaves?

What is knowledge transfer? David DeLong’s book “Lost Knowledge” describes knowledge as the “capacity for effective actions or decision-making in the context of organizational activity”. Accordingly, lost knowledge would decrease this vital capacity and help undermine organizational effectiveness and performance. The goal of transferring knowledge to others [known as Knowledge Transfer] is to: 1. Identify key positions and people where potential knowledge loss is most imminent. 2. Assess how critical the knowledge loss will be.

Develop a plan of action to ensure the capture of that critical knowledge and a plan of action to transfer it. Why is knowledge transfer important? A significant percentage of the state’s workforce is nearing retirement age over the next ten years. These employees have acquired a tremendous amount of knowledge about how things work, how to get things done and who to go to when problems arise. Losing their expertise and experience could significantly reduce efficiency, resulting in costly mistakes, unexpected quality problems, or significant disruptions in services and/or performance.

In addition, faster turnover among younger employees and more competitive recruiting and compensation packages add significantly to the mounting concern about the state’s ability to sustain acceptable levels of performance. What are the benefits of a knowledge transfer program? Knowledge transfer [KT] programs prevent critical knowledge loss by focusing on key areas. Some of the immediate benefits of KT programs are: 1. They provide reusable documentation of the knowledge required in certain positions or job roles. 2.

They result in immediate learning and knowledge transfer when carried out by individuals who can either use the transferred knowledge themselves or have responsibility for hiring, training, mentoring, coaching or managing people within an organizational unit. 3. They reduce the impact of employee departure. 4. They integrate staffing, training, job and organization redesign, process improvements and other responses. 5. They aid in succession planning. 6. They prevent the loss of knowledge held only in employees’ heads when they leave the organization or retire.

They enhance career development. Generally Accepted Definitions for Knowledge Management and Transfer Knowledge Management (KM) refers to practices used by organizations to find, create, and distribute knowledge for reuse, awareness, and learning across the organization. Knowledge Management programs are typically tied to organizational objectives and are intended to lead to the achievement of specific outcomes such as shared intelligence, improved performance, or higher levels of innovation.

Knowledge Transfer (an aspect of Knowledge Management) has always existed in one form or another through on-the-job discussions with peers, apprenticeship, and maintenance of agency libraries, professional training and mentoring programs. Since the late twentieth century, technology has played a vital role in Knowledge Transfer through the creation of knowledge bases, expert systems, and other knowledge repositories. To understand knowledge management and knowledge transfer, it is helpful to examine the differences between data, information, and knowledge.

Data is discrete, objective facts. Data is the raw material for creating information. By itself, data carries no judgment, interpretation or meaning. Information is data that is organized, patterned and/or categorized. It has been sorted, analyzed and displayed, and is communicated through various means. Information changes the way a person perceives something, thus, affecting judgment or behavior. Knowledge is what is known. It is richer and more meaningful than information. Knowledge is gained through experience, reasoning, intuition, and learning.

Because knowledge is intuitive, it is difficult to structure, can be hard to capture on machines, and is a challenge to transfer. We often speak of a “knowledgeable person,” and by that we mean someone who is well informed, and thoroughly versed in a given area. We expand our knowledge when others share theirs with us. We create new knowledge when we pool our knowledge together.

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