Sunday, 6 October 2013

Codification v personalisation KM strategies

I am studying knowledge management systems (KMS) this semester in my Masters in Knowledge Management. Some of the reading have provided great insight into KM and more importantly, in relation to my job as a knowledge manager. Some subjects are so theoretical or unrelated to my role or organisation that it is hard to gain much benefit from them.

I have just finished reading an article from HBR. The authors discuss two strategies for knowledge management; personalisation and codification, as ways of managing tacit knowledge. I agree that a lot of focus on KM is around IT and how to get people to use new systems and social media. This ignores "the very idea that human knowledge can be stored in, and its processing replicated by, software machines ignores three thousand years of philosophical inquiry into the nature of knowledge and what it means to ‘know’" Stapleton et al (2005). 

Hansen et al recommend the 80/20 rule when choosing a strategy. A 50/50 fix of both won't work and focusing on one or the other exclusively will also fail, the authors argue. A KM strategy based on personalisation; connecting people and promoting communication and collaboration also needs a level of documented knowledge in databases and a system to all people to find people. A strategy based on codification of knowledge also needs to promote some level of person to person communication. The article uses case studies to show how this has worked within consulting and manufacturing firms to great advantage.

HBR diagram
The authors highlight other success factors for KM as linking KM strategy to organisational strategy and direction and getting high level support. "Only strong leadership can provide the direction a company needs to choose, implement and overcome resistance to a new knowledge management strategy"  Hansen et al (1999). Nothing new there!

M.T. Hansen, N. Nohria, & T. Tierney (1999). What's your strategy for managing knowledge? Harvard Business Review. March-April, pp.106-116.

Stapleton, L., Smith, D. & Murphy F. (2005). Systems engineering methodologies, tacit knowledge and communities of practice. AI and Society. 16: 159-180.

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