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School of Information Studies McGill Management Forum

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1 School of Information Studies McGill Management Forum
Managing Knowledge:  Sharing what we learn today and preserving for the future Dr. Kimiz Dalkir School of Information Studies McGill Management Forum 27 November 2007

2 Were we not already managing our knowledge well (enough)?
We are More global/international More connected (9-5 followed by 5-9) We are more mobile (min. of 3 careers) We have to do more, faster with less resources The babyboomers are retiring We face information overload every day 9/11 was a big wake up call

3 A day in the life of a valuable knowledge resource…
Who uses strategic knowledge resources? How often, why, how do they add value…? How do we ensure knowledge continuity when people retire/leave? How do they organize this valuable knowledge? Do they manage to find it again…..?

4 What are the consequences?
What is the cost of: not sharing knowledge? not finding knowledge that exists? not finding the right knowledge? not knowing it even exists? Losing knowledge? Rework/reengineering not always possible When it is, it is always very costly The keys to knowledge are often lost…


6 “Thirty-five years ago, NASA put men on the moon for US$24 billion over a decade. In the ensuing years, not only did NASA forget how to do it, as everyone involved retired and little effort was made to record what they knew, but in a cost cutting move, they lost the last set of blueprints for the only rocket ever built that was big enough to get there.” (DeLong, 2004)

7 Anti-Terrorism & KM “After the first Anthrax attack, the biggest problem we faced was not access to information – it was prioritization of information, and access to the right experts.” (CRTI, bioterrorism expert) “After 9/11, we asked ourselves: why was no one able to connect the dots?” (David Ignatius, Assoc. Ed., The Washington Post)


9 Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Research and Technology Initiative (CRTI)
Measuring the KM contribution to collaboration and organizational memory

10 The journey towards organizational learning – case study of Oxfam
How can we learn from the past – best practices (things we did better) and lessons learned (things to avoid repeating in the future!)

11 “We Know More than we Can Tell”
knowledge is an intellectual asset - yet only % is actually written down Impossible to document all knowledge - worse yet, this knowledge is lost once employee leaves

12 Tacit Explicit

13 Which knowledge to transfer?
Mostly explicit: Knowing what… Knowing how to…. Mostly tacit: Knowing where to find knowledge Knowing who knows what and being able to contact/find them

14 One model of KM*: Tacit Explicit Tacit .. Explicit
*Nonaka, I. and H. Takeuchi. The Knowledge Creating Company. New York: Oxford, 1995. Tacit Explicit Tacit Nonaka & Takeuchi (1986) The Knowledge Creating Company. .. Explicit

15 How to manage knowledge?
Explicit Tacit Socialization Externalization Exercises Clusters First Responder Workshops After action reviews Symposia Workshops Tech Demos Competency Map Tacit Tacit Socialization Individual to individual(s) Apprenticeship Mentoring Observation Shadowing Imitation Practice Brainstorming Coaching Externalization Able to articulate the knowledge, know-how Metaphors, models, expressing the “inexpressible”, e.g., mathematical models, algorithms, parables Can be written, videotape, audiotape format Often need intermediary to capture this knowledge – a journalist, a workshop… It now exists in a tangible form It can now be more easily shared with others and leveraged throughout the organization Combination Can combine discrete pieces of tangible knowledge into a new form E.g. a synthesis in the form of a report, a comparative evaluation, a new database Simply a new combination of existing knowledge – no new knowledge is created Internalization As new knowledge is shared throughout the organization, employees now begin to internalize it They use it, broaden it, extend it and reframe their own existing tacit knowledge base They learn – they do their jobs differently now Lessons learned New Protocols Documents/Reports Communications Portal Databases Info Management Exercises Shared Experience Training Explicit Internalization: Combination:

16 Social Network Analysis is used to follow the flow
(or lack of flow)of knowledge Rosa and Thomas are `hidden` experts From: V. Krebs. Knowledge Networks. A way to identify hidden experts – they don’t necessarily have the official role or job title but they are found to play a key role in knowledge transfer. Can also be used to identify missing links – people who should be collaborating but aren’t, black holes (knowledge ‘hoarders’) and orphans, such as the database on the bottom of the image. Knowledge flow may be negative as well – identify flows to competitors, loss due to headhunting etc. Can do a social interaction mapping exercise to yield such knowledge maps at the level of an individual, group and organization particularly useful for retirement planning Orphaned database

17 What is Knowledge Management?
KM is the process of capturing a company’s collective expertise wherever it resides: in databases, on paper, in people’s heads – and distributing it to wherever it can help produce the biggest payoff (Hibbard, 1997) Leibowitz Chp. 2

18 Why worry about KM in universities?
The university’s knowledge role Knowledge creation and codification = research Knowledge dissemination = education, training and publication Knowledge application = service to society (Kargbo, 2002) Tacit Explicit

19 How well do universities manage their knowledge?
Do they: Exploit both tacit and explicit knowledge? Avoid duplicating information? Have opportunities to easily share and pool what they have learned? Know what they know and who knows what? Recognize knowledge as an asset and manage/leverage knowledge accordingly?

20 A successful learning organization should have:
Learning Culture - an organizational climate that nurtures learning Processes - processes that encourage interaction across boundaries Tools and Techniques - methods that aid individual and group learning Skills and Motivation - to learn and adapt (Leithwood and Louis, 1998)

21 Some things to keep in mind…
What is your role in knowledge management? CKO – CWO*? What knowledge-related challenges are you facing today? How does important knowledge get shared in your organizational unit? What helps and what hinders this sharing? *Chief Wisdom Officer (!!)

22 Additional resources of interest
DeLong, D. (2004). Lost knowledge: confronting the threat of an aging workforce. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. Hibbard, J. (1997). Ernst and Young deploys app for knowledge management. Information Week, July 28, 1997, p. 28. Kargho, J. (2002). African universities and the challenge of knowledge creation and application in the information age. Library Review. Vol. 51/8, 2002 p Leithwood K., and Louis, K. Eds. (1998). Organizational learning in Schools. Lise: Swets, 1998. Salkeld, L. (2007). Is this the man who sank the Titanic by walking off with the vital locker key? Daily Mail UK (available at:

23 Thank you for your attention
Future Projects: The Encyclopedia of Lost Knowledge…. Thank you for your attention

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