Understanding How Businesses Use Knowledge Management
A simple knowledge management explanation.
Have you ever played the telephone game?
A bunch of people stand in a line and whisper a sentence into the next person's ear. By the end of the line, the statement sounds very different than it was at the beginning, often in a hilarious way.
This is a fun icebreaker, but it is the opposite of how businesses want factual information passed from one person to another. Knowledge management processes prevent the telephone game from occurring with important business information.
What is knowledge management in the business context?
Knowledge management is the management of information given to others, typically from employers to employees. This is likely not the dictionary definition, but it is the most straightforward way of explaining it. Knowledge management systems allow businesses to control the flow of information, ensuring that information passed down the chain or in any direction remains accurate.
Who knows what and whom did they hear it from?
These are the essential questions that knowledge management strategies are purposed to answer. Leaders want everyone to know the information they need to, and to hear it from a trustworthy person within the organization.
If there's a rumor that everyone will get an extra week of vacation this year, the management will want to ensure that people either, (a) don't believe the false information, or (b) learn it is correct from them first. The quality of information is one of the most pivotal parts of a successful knowledge management system.
Who uses knowledge management in the workplace?
Knowledge management, sometimes abbreviated as KM, is used by all employees. Human resources staff and managers will find knowledge management systems not only helpful, but a lifesaver, or at least a stress-saver.
Employees of all seniority levels will use it as a reference point for accurate information.
Knowledge is managed by management and HR.
There needs to be an authoritative source of accurate information in any business, especially regarding workplace policies, procedures, and best practices. Knowledge management is applied to the rules and how to do things, from how many pepperoni slices to put on a large pizza to how to write tactful responses to critical comments on company social media accounts.
Some large companies have individuals responsible for their KM systems whose job title is Knowledge Manager. How cool of a title is that?!
How are knowledge management efforts implemented?
Business knowledge bases are typically presented through Intranet software or programs and apps designed exclusively and specifically for business knowledge sharing. Examples of knowledge management apps purposed towards businesses include
. I may share a comparison of such apps in a future article about KM technology options.
After being verified, knowledge is acquired and then applied by employees.
Company Intranets are a typical example of knowledge management systems. Many companies have internal websites that provide the information they want or require employees to access.
A corporate knowledge base example
In 2021 and 2022, I worked for Walmart for nearly a year. They have OneWalmart, an online portal where their millions of employees can look up policies and resources, take required training courses, and learn about the company's programs. It is full of branded content that is undoubtedly intended to give employees a positive perspective of the profit-centered corporation they call their employer.
Instead of asking the store's HR person, who may commonly work a different shift, you could go online 24/7 and find answers to many questions. Walmart's valuing of a knowledge management framework was incredibly clear. The goal of their knowledge management system, I presumed, was not only to provide their workforce with accurate information, but also to offer a tailored perspective of the company.
Any employer can benefit from a knowledge management process
The value of knowledge management systems not only exists for massive enterprise-level companies. The importance of knowledge management is in how it offers the ability for businesses of all sizes, from giant enterprises to local nonprofit organizations, to distribute accurate, helpful information across their workforce, enhancing the employee experience.
About the Author
Fouad Abou-Rizk is a digital marketing professional who loves organizational systems. He loves getting organized at work and want to help others do the same!