KM from an organizational point of view encompasses sharing vital information between employees using portals and management systems such as the Enterprise content management system. Knowledge management focuses on two types of knowledge: Tacit and explicit (Dalkir). Tacit knowledge refers to the intangible knowledge that is with the people and can be captured through meeting with office employees, stakeholders and experts; explicit knowledge refers to tangible information that can be retrieved from meeting records, memos and reports in print form. KM is not a stand-alone process; it involves leveraging on Information technology to come up with an information sharing system, having a supportive human resource department and corporate culture. Organizations also need to arrange information and structure their content to support easy retrieval (Koenig, 2012).
In the modern century, knowledge workers are on demand since they provide an organization with the necessary expertise. Therefore, organizations have taken the initiative of identifying appropriate knowledge workers by utilizing Knowledge management techniques. For instance, use of Expertise location which is part of KM, enables organizations locate experts by using systems such as employee resume data bank, online expertise fill out forms and commercial packages that match employees with the employers expertise requirements (Dubrin, 2012). Other organizations utilize Lesson learned databases which attempt to change tacit knowledge to explicit. Moreover, community of practice techniques aid firms employees to share knowledge and come up with best practices (Koenig, 2012). Today, organizations use Knowledge management to gain external information thus achieving a competitive advantage over other firms (Uriarte, 2008).
Everyone has dealt with knowledge Management one point in his or her life. Nevertheless, what is Knowledge Management? Knowledge Management is defined, as the process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge (Koenig, 2012). The definition later grows to a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise’s information assets. These assets may include databases, documents, policies, procedures, previously un-captured expertise, and experience in individual workers (Koenig, 2012). The most important objective of Knowledge Management is being able to share knowledge with others ones businesses.
Components of Knowledge Management
Knowledge Management is made up of lessons learned databases, and expertise location, communities of practice (CoPs) (Koenig, 2012). Lessons learned databases are databases that try to capture and to make knowledge available. It is information that has been operationally found and typically would not have been captured in a fixed medium (Koenig, 2012). These three important fundamentals are what companies are following to this day. Home Depot uses these when dealing with customers, employees, and managers.
Lessons Learned Databases
Home Depot uses lessons learned databases all the time with their employees. Home Depot’s training curriculum is extremely important when starting a career and being the best at your job. Home Depot’s sales associates have a defined required curriculum. This curriculum must be completed within the first nine months of employment, known as “Before the Apron”, says Leslie Joyce, Ph.D., vice president and chief learning officer of Home Depot (Wickman, 2008). Everything a new associate needs to know about the department is at their fingertips. Home Depot has some information for customers as well on their web site.
If knowledge resides in people, then one of the best ways to learn what an expert knows is to talk with that expert. Locating the right expert with the knowledge you need, can be a problem (Koenig, 2012). Finding an expert in a craft was a pain-taking task. Although, finding an expert now, is the easiest thing to do with the Redbeacon by Home Depot.
Foster City, California-based Redbeacon, is targeting “do-it-for-me” homeowner, particularly those in their 20s and 30s that do not have the knowledge of certain tasks (Burritt, 2013). Redbeacon allows customers to find locale experts. It also gives them a price estimator to show what a certain task will coast. This is a great way for home owners to get those “di it yourself’ projects done.
Communities of Practice (CoPs)
CoPs are groups of individuals with shared interests that come together in person or virtually to tell stories, to share and discuss problems and opportunities, discuss best practices, and talk over lessons learned (Koenig, 2012). Home Depot has a web site for their employees to go to chat to other associates around the world called, “The Warehouse”. The site allows the employee to make a profile showing other associates what store and what department the work in (Home Depot, 2014). This gives associates access to what other associates think. Therefore, they might be able to help each other with problems.
Knowledge Management plays a big part in businesses. Although, at times it may not seem as though knowledge management plays a part. Not knowing, can be a bad thing when it comes to a business. Fortune 500 companies lose roughly 31.5 billion a year by failing to share knowledge. This is a rather disturbing figure in this global economy filled with turbulence and change (Quast, 2012). It is best to know as much as one can, about the business aspect of things, to succeed in the end.