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					Your Knowledge @ Work

Knowledge Management Primer
An Introduction to the Key Principles of Knowledge Management Welcome to the Knowledge Management Primer - designed to optimize your Knowledge Management Institute experience by providing solid background information about and key perspectives to this dynamic management field. Within this portion of the Web site, you will find four sections (see the Table of Contents below), each one written in point form and in clear language - to help you understand the primary concepts of knowledge management, the relationships between them, and their applications and benefits. The literature and Web sources for the content of the Knowledge Management Primer are cited within each section, and are linked to a full set of References, available for your study and consideration. Each section concludes with an Exercise, designed to help you apply the principles of knowledge management to your own organization and situation. You are also invited to explore the additional Web links provided to other great sources of knowledge management reading. Included are interviews with Tom Davenport and Larry Prusak, discussions about and excerpts from the book Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know, and other articles directly tied to the topics covered in the primer.
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Your feedback and suggestions for the Primer's improvement are welcome - please send your email to: lindsey@fis.utoronto.ca The Knowledge Management Primer Table of Contents: Part A You Are Here: Locating Yourself Within the Knowledge Economy
q q q q q

Realities of the Late 20th Century Business Climate Adding Value to Information Defining the Term "Knowledge Management" Exercise: Making Use of More Enhanced, Strategic or Accessible Information Additional Links for Your Interest

Part B The Human Element: KM is Not Merely Information Technology
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The Difference Between Data, Information and Knowledge Types of Knowledge Within an Organization Sources and Interfaces for Knowledge Creation New Roles, New Activities and New Partnerships Exercise: Recognizing Knowledge Management in Everyday Life Additional Links for Your Interest

Part C Corporate Culture Shock: The Politics of Change
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Being Human is a Two Way Street Accepting Some Cold Hard Truths An Organization-Wide Change Exercise: What Information Politics are Practised in Your Organization?

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Additional Links for Your Interest

Part D First Steps: Information Sources, Flows and Bottlenecks
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Where to Start The Information Audit - What Does It Accomplish? The Information Audit - Steps to Take The Information Audit - Benefits to be Gained Exercise: Let’s Get Started Additional Links for Your Interest

References for the Knowledge Management Primer
http://www.fis.utoronto.ca/kmi/primer/pintro.htm The Knowledge Management Primer, designed and authored by Cathy Lindsey-King, MISt Student and Information Pathfinder. Copyright © 1999, Cathy Lindsey-King. All rights reserved. Last Update: December 11, 1999

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KM Primer Part A: You Are Here - Locating Yourself Within the Knowledge Economy
Realities of the Late 20th Century Business Climate:
1. Rapid changes in both personal computer technology and electronic communications during the past decade have given us the ability to: create, r gather, r manipulate, r store, and r transmit much more data and information than ever before.
r

We seek and transfer large quantities of information via broadcast media and the Internet on a daily basis. In fact, we now have so much information at our fingertips that we are often drowning in it. Sources: Chase (1998) and Sistla & Todd (1998)
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2. A number of significant political and financial changes in the world arena have changed both the field of play and the players. The enhanced speed and capacity of communication has enabled the existence of a global market for many industries and business sectors. Source: Chase (1998) 3. The pressures of competition within the 24 hour global marketplace have greatly increased demands for:
r r r

better quality and less costly production, more accountability to both customers and shareholders, and improved information about materials, processes, customers and competitors.

Sources: Chase (1998) and Drucker (1993) 4. This environment has fostered the growth of management trends like: r total quality management, customer satisfaction, benchmarking, and ISO 9000 compliance, re-engineering, restructuring, downsizing and outsourcing r strategic planning and new alliances, and r organizational learning and knowledge management. 5. These changes have made an impact upon: r manufacturing and service concerns, r large, medium sized and small companies, r both the private and public sectors.
r

In short, few companies and organizations have not felt the effects of these changes. 6. Customized, readily accessible, and strategic information enables the creation of actionable knowledge - this in turn generates:
r r r

a better understanding of an organization’s position within its environment, more prudent planning and less uncertainty in decision making, and the establishment and maintenance of a more competitive edge.

Source: Abram (1997) 7. What we have witnessed is the dawn of an era where value-added information and

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actionable knowledge have become essential commodities and vital capital in the conduct of business. We have moved to a period when competitive advantage is gained not just merely through access to information, but also - more importantly - from new knowledge creation. Sources: Drucker (1994) and Davenport & Prusak (1997) "The only sustainable advantage a firm has comes from what it collectively knows, how efficiently it uses what it knows, and how readily it acquires and uses new knowledge." Source: Davenport & Prusak (1998)

Adding Value to Information:
8. Qualities that make information valuable: r accuracy - inspires confidence, r timeliness - appropriately current, r accessibility - can be readily located when required, r engagement - capable of making an impact and/or influencing a decision, r application - relevant and useful within the defined context, and r rarity - possibly provides a hitherto unknown or confidential insight. Source: Davenport & Prusak (1997) 9. Actions that turn vast quantities of data and information overload into value-added information that can be absorbed, applied and acted upon: a. pruning: eliminate the obsolete, the irrelevant and the inaccurate b. adding context: through summary, analysis, comparison, synthesis, and conclusion c. enhancing style: through effective variation and interactivity, creative staging and inspirational dramatization d. choosing the right medium for presentation: take advantage of the range of media available for delivery of your message s s s s s

Internet / intranet access, video displays and teleconferencing overhead or slide-based presentations phone calls or face-to-face communications hard-copy reports, e-mail or faxes regular mail or courier.

Source: Davenport & Prusak (1997) 10. Add value to data in order to create meaningful information by: r customizing it, r categorizing it, r performing calculations, r making corrections, and r condensing it. Source: Davenport & Prusak (1998) 11. Add value to information in order to create useful knowledge by: r comparison, r consequence determination, r making connections, and r sparking conversation. Source: Davenport & Prusak (1998)

Defining the Term "Knowledge Management":
12. "Knowledge management is about enhancing the use of organisational knowledge

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through sound practices of information management and organisational learning." Source: Broadbent (1998) 13. "A learning organization ... is proficient at creating, acquiring, organizing, and sharing knowledge, and at applying this knowledge to develop its behavior, position, or objectives. [The essential goal of knowledge management is] ... to harness the organization’s information resources and information capabilities to enable it to learn and adapt to its changing environment." Source: Choo (1998a) 14. Three good reasons why the implementation of knowledge management in an effort to promote organizational learning and competitive intelligence is a sound business strategy:
r r

to increase the speed or velocity of learning to leverage decision-making information into knowledge and smart business decisions to minimize the daily risk of making bad business decisions from the use of ‘too much’ or the ‘wrong kind’ of information.

r

Source: Peters (1997) 15. "The ultimate corporate resource has become information - the ultimate competitive advantage is the ability to use it - the sum of the two is knowledge management." Source: Oxbrow & Abell (1998) 16. Key knowledge management principles identified by Davenport & Prusak: r knowledge originates and resides in people’s minds, r knowledge sharing requires trust, r technology enables new knowledge behaviors, r knowledge sharing must be encouraged and rewarded, r management support and resources are essential, r knowledge initiatives should begin with a pilot program, r quantitative and qualitative measurements are needed to evaluate the initiative, and
r

knowledge is creative and should be encouraged to develop in unexpected ways.

Source: Davenport & Prusak (1998)

Exercise: Making Use of More Enhanced, Strategic or Accessible Information
17. Consider one piece of business-oriented information that you have used within the last week - it could be something in your mail, something learned in a conversation, or something written within your organization. Describe one (or more) way(s) whereby the quality of this information could be improved - such that it would provide you with more actionable knowledge and/or the ability to make a more reasoned decision if it were more accurate, more timely, more accessible, more engaging, more applicable, or offered an unknown or confidential insight. Remember that these qualities might be gained through the actions of pruning, adding context, enhancing style, by changing the presentation medium, or by making comparisons, determining consequences, making connections, or sparking conversation.

Additional Links For Your Interest:
New Language for New Leverage: The Terminology of Knowledge Management. This article by Philip C. Murray provides a useful set of definitions and a bit of background information for a variety of knowledge management terms, concepts, roles, technologies, techniques and disciplines. Taken from the Web zine KM Metazine, it was posted in 1996. A Meeting of the Minds. The text of a very entertaining discussion between two of knowledge management's best thinkers - Thomas Davenport and Peter Drucker. This article tackles topics like why reengineering doesn't seem to have worked for many companies, and why the re-establishment of "information" in the term "information

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technology' is way overdue. The article was published in CIO Magazine on September 15, 1997. Intellectual Capital: The New Wealth of Organizations. Here's an opportunity to learn something about another of knowledge management's well respected writers: Thomas A. Stewart. Stewart's personal Web site offers some reviews of this, his latest book, its table of contents and foreword, and a biography of the writer. Primer Intro Primer Part B Primer Part C Primer Part D Primer References

http://www.fis.utoronto.ca/kmi/primer/part-a.htm The Knowledge Management Primer, designed and authored by Cathy Lindsey-King, MISt Student and Information Pathfinder. Copyright © 1999, Cathy Lindsey-King. All rights reserved. Last Update: December 11, 1999

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KM Primer Part B: The Human Element: KM Is Not Merely Information Technology
The Difference Between Data, Information and Knowledge:
1. Popular misconceptions of the so-called Information Age: r computers and telecommunications instantly make us better informed, r libraries and information staff are obsolete because we have the Internet, r creation of an intranet establishes a complete knowledge management system within an organization, and books and printed matter will eventually cease to exist. 2. Knowledge transfer is an interaction between people, not through computers or documents. We must not confuse data with knowledge, or information technology with information.
r

Source: Abram (1997) 3. "Data, information and knowledge are not interchangeable concepts. Organizational success and failure can often depend on knowing which of them you need, which you have and what you can and can’t do with each." Source: Davenport & Prusak (1998) 4. Dr. Stanley Davis - author, consultant, public speaker, and educator - has said:
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"We had two decades which focused solely on data processing, followed by two decades focusing on information technology, and now that has shifted to knowledge. There’s a clear difference between data, information, and knowledge. Information is about taking data and putting it into a meaningful pattern. Knowledge is the ability to use that information." Source: Blue (1998) 5. Tom Davenport and Larry Prusak have concluded: r "Our fascination with technology has made us forget the key purpose of information: to inform people. ... [We should place] the primary emphasis not on generation and distribution of reams of information, but rather on the effective use of a relatively smaller amount." Source: Davenport & Prusak (1997)
r

Technology cannot replace the skill and judgement of an experienced human worker, but it can assist in the creation and transfer of knowledge by providing new means of knowledge collection, exchange, storage and distribution. Source: Davenport & Prusak (1998)

Types of Knowledge Within an Organization:
6. Building on the activities of pruning, adding context, enhancing style and choosing the right medium for presentation and access, we can see that the key player in the creation of knowledge is the human element: "the best filter for information is still the human mind." Source: Liberman (1996) 7. Three different types of knowledge within an organization: r tacit knowledge, r explicit knowledge, and r cultural knowledge. Source: Choo (1998b) 8. Tacit knowledge: represented by individual or group experience and expertise, is implicit: used for
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sense making, problem solving & gaining of perspective, and is personal: held within us and rarely documented. Source: Choo (1998b) 9. Explicit knowledge: based on policies, procedures, instructions, standards and results, readily communicated, often through written documentation, and provides a record of "organizational or institutional memory" . Source: Choo (1998b) 10. Cultural knowledge: the basis for what we deem to be fair and trustworthy, an underlying comprehension of how we treat new truths and situations, and is often tied to an organization’s vision, mission and overall philosophy. Source: Choo (1998b)

Sources and Interfaces for Knowledge Creation:
11. Besides these internal knowledge sources, we must consider external ones as well: r the press and other media, r networking with friends, associates and colleagues, r industry publications and organizational meetings, r continuing education opportunities, r competitors or other players in the market, and r any number of other internal, external, formal and informal information sources. These activities and others constitute a vital activity known as "environmental scanning", an activity which no organization, regardless of its size, product or market position, can afford to ignore. Source: Choo (1998a) 12. In order to define and fulfil its information needs through information seeking processes, an organization engages in three principal methods of strategic information use:
r r r

sense making, knowledge creation, and decision making.

Source: Choo (1998b) 13. Among the activities associated with sense making are: r scanning, r noticing, and r interpreting. These activities set the stage for a shared understanding of the organization’s placement within its environment, its perspectives and goals, and the establishment of what it requires in order to sustain its growth and development. Source: Choo (1998b) 14. Knowledge creation is accomplished through the actions of: knowledge conversion: converting of tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge, knowledge building: establishment and growth of distinctive core capabilities, fostered for the benefit of the organization, and knowledge linking: formation of learning alliances and transfer of strategic information. Source: Choo (1998b) 15. Solid decision making is fundamental to the success of an organization. This "knowing organization", one that is well informed, perceptive and enlightened, must be capable of :
r r

adapting swiftly to change, engaging in continuous learning and innovation, and

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taking timely and decisive actions to fulfil its goals.

Source: Choo (1998b) 16. These are all human actions and processes, and their roles within the management of organizational knowledge are as vital as the harnessing of technology. These key processes of effective information seeking, sense making, knowledge creation, and strategic information use for decision making are essential to the successful initiation and maintenance of a knowledge management strategy within an organization. Perhaps the best way to provide a seamless interface of information sources and knowledge creation is to foster the development of "hybrid" individuals: those who understand both the abilities of technology and the ways in which we as humans can make the most effective use of information. Sources: Choo (1998a), Choo (1998b) and Davenport & Prusak (1997)

New Roles, New Activities and New Partnerships:
17. As our economy becomes more centred about information location and enhancement and knowledge creation and strategic use, a variety of new corporate roles have begun to emerge. 18. Lori Zipperer has suggested: Chief Information Officer (CIO) sees information needs specifically and visualizes solutions globally End User Training Coordinator provides instruction and support in computer programs and databases Source: Zipperer (1998) 19. Rory Chase has suggested: Knowledge Analyst acts as a link between the customer and the knowledge base Knowledge Navigator understands where the repositories of knowledge are within an organization - may act as mentor to new knowledge analysts Knowledge Asset Manager identifies, evaluates and manages a portfolio of knowledge assets (patents, trademarks, copyrights, etc.) Source: Chase (1998) 20. Other new knowledge management roles listed by Davenport & Prusak:
Information Innovator Content Director Data Manager Chief Content Officer Knowledge Integrator Knowledge Engineer Knowledge Administrator Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) Synthesizer Technical Writer Editor Librarian

Sources: Davenport & Prusak (1997) and Davenport & Prusak (1998) 21. Knowledge management requires information managers with the following skills and capabilities:
r r r r r r r r

industry or subject knowledge aligned to the business units, strong communication and interpersonal skills, understanding and use of business and management approaches, information technology savoir faire, database construction and/or management experience, commitment to customer care, ability to be a team player and leader, and ability to act as a change agent for the organization.

Source: Remeikis (1996) 22. In fact, Davenport & Prusak have identified librarians as having some of the best skills for these new roles: "Organizations are also redesigning existing groups of workers - often librarians as knowledge managers." Source: Davenport & Prusak (1998)

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23. A sample of the different activities that may take place under the umbrella of knowledge management:
r r r r r r r r r r

Information Audits, Knowledge Mapping, Knowledge Mining and Extraction, Development, Implementation and Maintenance of Corporate Intranets, Other Efforts to Integrate Internal, External, Paper and Digital Resources, Personal and Virtual Navigators, Creation of "Yellow Pages" of Corporate or Other Expertise, Databases of Skills and Competencies, Development of Guidelines for Customer and Regulator Requirements, Development of a Database of Best Practices and/or Lessons Learned from Failed Projects, Development of a Question Tree of Frequently Asked Inquiries, Information Literacy Training, and Development of Full Text Digital Resources and Virtual Libraries.

r r r

Sources: Abram (1997) and Broadbent (1998) 24. By far, the best strategies for action upon information and the creation of valuable knowledge for gain of competitive edge will come as the result of sharing. In other words, two (or more) heads are better than one, and great benefits can be gained through access to someone else’s prior experience. In realizing that knowledge management is best defined as a human process and not merely a technological one, we can summarize the key aspects like this:
r

Humans must act as the filters in order to add value to information, and this can be assisted by prudent use of technology. Source: Davenport & Prusak (1997)

r

The best way to utilize technology is to build bridges between customers, information and technology. This comes through the intervention and integration efforts of information content and technology access experts. Source: Choo (1998a)

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Without the act of knowledge sharing, we lose the following abilities: s to build new knowledge from that already developed, s to learn from past success and failures, and s to take advantage of all avenues that lead toward strategic and competitive intelligence.

Exercise: Recognizing Knowledge Management in Everyday Life
25. Rent the movie "Working Girl" (1988, starring Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver and Harrison Ford). As you watch it, consider how many aspects and examples of knowledge management already exist in "everyday" life. Here are some ideas to ponder: r the importance of knowledge for Tess and Jack - what they know, who they know, and how they use knowledge from internal, external, formal and informal sources,
r

how knowledge is shared (and not shared) between Tess, Jack and Catherine, and how having the right knowledge at the right time (plus a good strategy and a little luck) helped to bring about the film’s conclusion.

r

Additional Links For Your Interest:
From Data to Knowledge. This brief Oracle magazine article by Thomas Davenport provides a good overview of how to recognize the differences between data, information, and value-added information: knowledge. While acknowledging the important role of technology within the move towards creation and management of an organization's intellectual capital, Davenport also emphasizes the critical necessity of involving humans and knowledge sharing in this process. Know What You Know.

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This excerpt from one of the Knowledge Management Institute's working texts, Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know by Davenport and Prusak, discusses five methods of knowledge generation and creation, and also considers the value of corporate knowledge and the market forces that act upon it within an organization. This CIO Magazine article was published in February of 1998, and concludes with "Management: The Oral Art", a brief discussion with Larry Prusak about the unsung contributions of communication, and the use of knowledge brokering within organizations. Out of the Stacks. Heath Row's 1997 article from the CIO Magazine archive provides a key discussion of the corporate library's transformation from passive document warehouse to proactive knowledge facilitator, and why this is vital to the success of knowledge management within many organizations. Primer Intro Primer Part A Primer Part C Primer Part D Primer References

http://www.fis.utoronto.ca/kmi/primer/part-b.htm The Knowledge Management Primer, designed and authored by Cathy Lindsey-King, MISt Student and Information Pathfinder. Copyright © 1999, Cathy Lindsey-King. All rights reserved. Last Update: December 11, 1999

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KM Primer Part C: Corporate Culture Shock: The Politics of Change
Being Human is a Two Way Street:
1. Given that knowledge is power, the need to collaborate brings about an interesting paradox: it is the human element that really makes knowledge management work, but "the primary obstacle to knowledge management is people". Source: Remeikis (1996) 2. Knowledge management requires four unnatural acts: Sharing: making your best thinking - not just your opinions - available to others, and creating incentives and rewards for sharing. Using: moving beyond "not invented here", and creating excitement. Collaboration: building on the ideas of experts, and breaking down the silos - knowledge fiefdoms - and working across the organization instead of up and down.
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Improving: synthesizing new ideas continuously, and Purging yesterday’s ideas. Source: Remeikis (1996)

Accepting Some Cold Hard Truths:
3. Personal challenges that result from the initiation of knowledge management and the creation of new information roles within an organization:
r r r r r r r r

living with ambiguity and change, forgetting hierarchy, becoming solution-oriented, living without a job description, or with an evolving one, working and communicating in a virtual environment, collaborating with everyone, understanding the vision and learning how to work towards it, and taking responsibility for your own career and development.

Source: Remeikis (1996) 4. Dealing with the critical aspects of both change and knowledge management means accepting that politics must be acknowledged and cultivated. Davenport says: "If no politics appear around the knowledge management initiative, it is a good indication that the organization perceives that nothing valuable is taking place." Source: Davenport (1995) 5. Several different types of political structures for information and knowledge use and treatment within an organization exist: Information Politics Type Name Description Information Management Attributes Access Efficiency Quality

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Technocratic Utopianism

A heavily technical approach to information management, stressing categorisation and modelling of an organisation’s full information assets, with heavy reliance on emerging technologies The absence of any overall information management policy, leaving individuals to obtain and manage their own information The management of information by individual business units or functions, which define their own information needs and report only limited information to the overall corporation The definition of information categories and reporting structures by the firm’s leaders, who may or may not share the information willingly after collecting it An approach to information management based on consensus and negotiation on the organisation’s key information elements and reporting structures

Moderate

Moderate

Poor

Anarchy

Moderate

Poor

Low

Feudalism

Poor

Moderate

Low

Monarchy

Low

High

Low

Federalism

Good

Moderate

Moderate

Source: Davenport, Eccles & Prusak (1992), as adapted by Broadbent (1998) 6. Broadbent’s summary of how these different political styles can influence the adaptation of knowledge management by an organization.
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Before taking on a knowledge management initiative, an organization must understand what kind(s) of information politics exist within it. Given that an organization’s political structure might be contrary to the principles of knowledge management, it might be wise to rethink the idea at the beginning. In medium and larger organizations, a combination of the models described above might exist within the same firm. Three of the models: Technocratic Utopianism, Anarchy and Feudalism, are less likely to support knowledge management initiatives. The other two: Monarchy and Federalism, are much more supportive of knowledge management adoption. If the organization in question does not have a political structure that suits the knowledge management initiative, two choices are available: either abandon the knowledge management goal, or begin to change the

r

r

r

r

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organizational politics first - from within and throughout the organization. Source: Broadbent (1998)

An Organization-Wide Change:
7. Many organizational cultures do not reward their employees for participating in this process. Rather, they focus their reward systems, promotion patterns and role models on individual performance only. Source: Broadbent (1998) 8. Davenport & Prusak’s success factors for knowledge management: r Seek and gain a high level of senior management awareness, support and participation.
r

Link effective information management to firm economics - what is the cost of poor information? Accept that knowledge management is an expensive process, but that the results of not adopting it will be much more costly. Focus on information access and management as a product or commodity, and identify and promote how improvement in this management function will positively affect the organization’s bottom line. Seek to build an appropriate technical and organizational infrastructure. Adopt desirable characteristics: information providers must see themselves and act as facilitators, not rulers. Working without egos, their aim is to build coalitions and teams to work together. Make use of non-trivial motivational aids and incentives in order to truly encourage knowledge sharing. Clarify what knowledge is being managed, and what benefits will be reaped by all of the stakeholders. Use straightforward language to communicate the overall knowledge management vision of the organization. Remember that knowledge management benefits more from maps than from models, and more from markets than from hierarchies. Strive to attain some level of knowledge structure and provide multiple channels for knowledge transfer that will reinforce each other. Remember the importance of human contact for meaningful sharing. Avoid excessive structure and misplaced precision - knowledge management is an ongoing process, it doesn’t end, and its implementation cannot be planned to the finest detail. Knowledge management means improving the organization’s understanding of how it creates, accesses, uses, transfers, transmits, stores and retires information. In other words, the organization must improve its knowledge work processes, and build a knowledge-oriented culture. Despite the difficulties to be faced by an organization undertaking knowledge management, almost anything that a firm does to manage its knowledge will improve its competitive position in the marketplace. The key is to start with a pilot project whose knowledge has high value within the organization. Make sure that the project has a real potential to either solve a problem or fulfil a need. Let the process grow gradually as the organization is transformed.

r

r

r

r

r

r

r

Sources: Davenport (1995), Davenport & Prusak (1997) and Davenport & Prusak (1998)

Exercise: What Information Politics are Practised in Your Organization?
9. Identify what kind(s) of information politics is / are practised in your organization. Consider what kinds of changes may be necessary in order to initiate and foster the success of knowledge management practices within it.

Additional Links For Your Interest:
People Power This interview with our keynote speaker Larry Prusak offers an interesting discussion of why knowledge management is so closely tied to the flow of communication within an organization. Prusak says that when asked to summarize the key effort of knowledge management in one sentence he once advised that an organization should "hire smart people and let them talk". Cultural Evolution This recent (1999) article from Daintry Duffy of CIO Magazine discusses the creation, nurturing and sustaining of a corporate culture capable of fostering knowledge creation and sharing. Important to the process is the effort required to engender loyalty and enthusiasm for the company's activities within its employees.
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It's also important to remember that there is no such thing as a corporate culture "quick fix", and that once a healthy cultural climate has been established, its continued existence must be encouraged through careful tending and rewards to those who participate within it. KM Meets BP This practical 1998 CIO Magazine article by Connie Moore emphasizes "two essential considerations for implementing a KM project: the need to change the culture of the organization for KM readiness and the need to integrate knowledge into a business practice". The article also emphasizes proactive attitudes toward knowledge management and the need to prevent technology from overwhelming KM efforts. Primer Intro Primer Part A Primer Part B Primer Part D Primer References

http://www.fis.utoronto.ca/kmi/primer/part-c.htm The Knowledge Management Primer, designed and authored by Cathy Lindsey-King, MISt Student and Information Pathfinder. Copyright © 1999, Cathy Lindsey-King. All rights reserved. Last Update: December 11, 1999

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KM Primer Part D: First Steps: Information Sources, Flows & Bottlenecks
Where to Start:
1. "The best place to start at most organizations is with two components: information management staff and information mapping."
r

Once staff have been identified who can bridge the gaps between information, technology, and customers, the information audit and mapping process can be set in motion. It is usually best to start small - with one department or process - and then build the audit process in a modular fashion throughout the organization.

r

Source: Davenport & Prusak (1997) 2. Performing an information audit is similar to the process modelling exercise common to many Total Quality Management (TQM) methods. The justification for the audit is simple: when an organization gains a better understanding and control of how it gains, stores, retrieves, shares and uses information and knowledge (from either internal or external sources), it also gains valuable insights about how it can make better use of these assets. Knowledge management begins with effective management of information resources and their usage.
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The Information Audit - What Does It Accomplish?
3. Information audits are characterized as providing "an indepth analysis of an organization’s information requirements and delivery modes". Source: Peters (1997) 4. The information audit is "a systematic process through which an organisation can understand its information needs, what it knows, the information flows and gaps" . Source: Oxbrow (1999) 5. "Conducting an information audit provides the necessary snapshot of an organization’s current use of information so that a proper diagnosis of the efficiency of the overall institution’s use of information can take place." Source: The Steps to Take for Conducting an Information Audit (1997)

The Information Audit - Steps to Take:
6. How to Get Started: r gain upper management sponsorship and support, r obtain background information about the organization’s structure, job positions, etc., and
r

get buy-in from the rest of the organization - make sure they know the audit’s purpose.

Source: The Steps to Take for Conducting an Information Audit (1997) 7. How to Acquire the Information You Need: r conduct interviews with a cross section of all information users, and r convene focus groups to stimulate sharing and brainstorming of ideas on the same topics. Source: The Steps to Take for Conducting an Information Audit (1997) 8. What to Do with the Information Gained: r identify information bottlenecks and opportunities for its improved access and use,
r

summarize findings through recommendations and strategies, and

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r r

present the results (perhaps as an "information map") to all key stakeholders form a task force to act upon the recommendations made and to establish future monitoring.

Source: The Steps to Take for Conducting an Information Audit (1997) 9. Other Notes: r It will likely be preferable to hire an independent consultant for the interviews since candid information is required, and employees may open up more readily to an outside person. Source: The Steps to Take for Conducting an Information Audit (1997)
r

Interviews should canvas: s each employee’s duties and responsibilities, s the names of the information sources they use, s how they select and access their sources, s how often they access them, s how information is used, transmitted and retired, and s what makes a source particularly useful or non-useful. Source: The Steps to Take for Conducting an Information Audit (1997)

r

It is also important to find out each user’s most vital and most disposable information sources (and why), plus their insight on unexpected sources of information they have used, and how they would design their ideal information source. Source: The Steps to Take for Conducting an Information Audit (1997)

The Information Audit - Benefits to be Gained:
10. The audit "determines who is investing money for decision-making information and the opportunities that exist for future collaboration and leveraging" . Source: Peters (1997) 11. "The main benefit is the development of a much better understanding of this prize asset and how it can be used to stimulate creativity and innovation". One very positive side effect: "it raises the awareness across the organisation of the value of information and the value of sharing knowledge". Source: Oxbrow (1999) 12. Within at least some types of organizations, the recommendations made can realize bottom line financial gains:
r r r

a chance to save the corporation measurable amounts of money, to help it avoid lost business opportunities, or to give it a competitive advantage - by recommending a service not offered by others.

Source: Bates (1997)

Exercise: Let’s Get Started
13. Consider one process, activity, or area of decision making within your organization and make a list of its information sources, transfer and terminal points, uses, storage, transmissions, and flows. Identify at least one bottleneck or dead end and propose a means whereby it might be eliminated or minimized.

Additional Links For Your Interest:
Guiding Principles Carol Hildebrand's 1995 CIO Magazine article provides an excellent guide to the techniques to follow and benefits to be gained from information mapping - the information audit process and its application. Included are a set of very practical tips for successful mapping projects. Knowledge Management: Taming the Info Monster. Continuing with previous discussions on changing corporate culture, this 1998 Business Week article by Gary McWilliams and Marcia Stepanek provides practical advice and useful discussions of methods to consider for the limiting of information
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overload and the creation of actionable knowledge. Included in a related item is a listing of activities that can be undertaken (including an information audit) to "harness the information geyser". Making KM Pay Off. Another article by Carol Hildebrand (from the February 1999 issue of CIO Magazine) considers the action of tying knowledge management efforts to the organization's bottom line, discusses the impact of KM on different types of initiatives, and stresses the importance of organizing corporate content, investing in its maintenance, and fostering change management. Knowledge Management in the Information Age. This comprehensive 1998 article by Philip J. Gill of Oracle magazine utilizes excerpts from Working Knowledge and discussions with Davenport and other KM experts to demonstrate primary features and critical aspects of knowledge management. Recommended reading for an appreciation of "the big picture". Primer Intro Primer Part A Primer Part B Primer Part C Primer References

http://www.fis.utoronto.ca/kmi/primer/part-d.htm The Knowledge Management Primer, designed and authored by Cathy Lindsey-King, MISt Student and Information Pathfinder. Copyright © 1999, Cathy Lindsey-King. All rights reserved. Last Update: December 11, 1999

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KM Primer References
Abram, S. (1997).Knowledge management: Is this the answer?. Presentation delivered to the Special Libraries Association Toronto Chapter, October 15, 1997. Bates, M.E. (1997). Information audits: What do we know and when do we know it? Library Management Briefings, Fall 1997. Blue, A. (1998). Davis drives home the importance of being knowledge based. Information Outlook, 2(5): 39. Broadbent, M. (1998). The phenomenon of knowledge management: What does it mean to the information profession?. Information Outlook, 2(5), 23-36. Chase, R.L. (1998). Knowledge navigators. Information Outlook, 2(9): 18. Choo, C.W. (1998a). Information Management for the Intelligent Organization: The Art of Scanning the Environment. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc. Choo, C.W. (1998b). The Knowing Organization: How Organizations Use Information to Construct Meaning, Create Knowledge, and Make Decisions. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc. Davenport, T.H. (1995). Some principles of knowledge management. Davenport, T.H., Eccles, R.G. & Prusak, L. (1992). Information politics. Sloan Management Review, 34(1): 53-63. Davenport, T.H. & Prusak, L. (1997). Information Ecology: Mastering the Information and Knowledge Environment. New York: Oxford University Press. Davenport, T.H. & Prusak, L. (1998). Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know. Boston: Harvard Business School Press. Drucker, P.F. (1993). Post-Capitalist Society. New York: HarperCollins. Drucker, P.F. (1994). The age of social transformation. The Atlantic Monthly, November 1994: 53-80. Liberman, K. (1996). Creating & launching knowledge products. In: Getting Out of the Box: The Knowledge Management Opportunity. Video package prepared and presented as an SLA Distance Learning Program in October 1996. Washington, D.C.: Special Libraries Association. Oxbrow, N. (1999). Information audits. The route to getting value from your intranet. Available at: http://library.dialog.com/newsltrs/dialect/issue2/info_aud.html. Oxbrow, N. & Abell, A. (1998). Putting knowledge to work: what skills and competencies are required?, in Knowledge Management: A New Competitive Asset. Washington, DC: SLA State-of-the-Art Institute, 25. Peters, R.F. (1997). Information partnerships: Marketing opportunities for information professionals. Information Outlook, 1(3), 14-16. Remeikis, L. (1996). Acquiring the new skills and overcoming the barriers. In: Getting Out of the Box: The Knowledge Management Opportunity. Video package prepared and presented as an SLA Distance Learning Program in October 1996. Washington, D.C.: Special Libraries Association. Sistla, M., & Todd, J. (1998). Warning: A killer mistake in business - don't let technology drive your requirements. Information Outlook, 2(6), 19-24. The Steps to Take for Conducting an Information Audit. (1997). The Information Advisor, 9(9), S1-S4. Zipperer, L. (1998). Librarians in evolving corporate roles. Information Outlook, 2(6): 27-30.

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Primer Intro

Primer Part A

Primer Part B

Primer Part Primer Part C D

http://www.fis.utoronto.ca/kmi/primer/referenc.htm The Knowledge Management Primer, designed and authored by Cathy Lindsey-King, MISt Student and Information Pathfinder. Copyright © 1999, Cathy Lindsey-King. All rights reserved. Last Update: December 11, 1999

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