Knowledge – Life on the FarmThere’s an old joke about a government farming representative traveling farm to farm, urging farmers to attend an upcoming seminar.

He knocks on one door and a wizened old farmer answers. “You’ll learn all sorts of new information and ideas for better farming,” gushes the rep.

The old hayseed growls back: “Ain’t usin’ half of what I know now.”

I like this joke, because one of the big myths of large enterprises is that “knowledge is power.” In fact, you can have all the knowledge in the world, but without the ability to boldly act on it and implement it – it’s useless.

Today, knowledge management is on the agenda more than ever. But modern digital technology is progressing at such a pace that it has led to an explosion of what constitutes knowledge. It’s left organisations with new challenges of how to cope with this information overload.

Knowledge Management is the key to driving productivity in any organisation because it engages with the company’s employees and gives them the explicit information and knowledge needed to perform their jobs better. It also allows them to contribute their own implicit knowledge and thoughts into the organisation as a whole. The impact of this is that it will enable your organisation to make better decisions, reduce information redundancy, avoid past mistakes and makes scarce expertise widely available.  Getting this right will save money and make your organisation much more competitive and relevant.

The old hayseed is a bit like a hard drive of useful information and capturing this personal tacit expertise is an important aspect of modern knowledge management.  Modern social computing is a great way of sharing knowledge through conversations, forums, posts and ratings.

The more traditional aspect of knowledge management is the management of explicit things. This is the type of information that tends to be centrally published and then disseminated.  For example, you wouldn’t expect the old hayseed to have personally written the government farming regulations or the operating manual for his tractor.

The other type of knowledge which is often shared is implicit. A good example of this is information gained from the experience around starting and completing projects. This experience is usually a mixture of the project team’s tacit knowledge combined with some explicit project process information.

We have been sharing knowledge as a species since the invention of language. The difference now is that we can share and manage information on larger scales and with greater ease than ever before.   They key drivers of this increase in knowledge to knowledge are the accessibility, findability and publishing of content.

Knowledge management is a large topic and as the old hayseed testified, it’s the half which you don’t know which is the problem. So in our next posts we will run through in more detail the approaches to sharing explicit, implicit and tacit knowledge. CGI has a broad body of work covering these areas and we will also be sharing some of our real life experiences with you.

If you’d like to hear more of my thoughts on Knowledge Management, contact darren.peat@cgi.com.

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