What is Knowledge Management and why is it important?

A short scientific introduction

Let’s face it: You can either get a grip of the knowledge in your organization, or you’re going down. Knowledge is one of the 4 production factors, next to ground, capital, and work.

What you know today helps you figure out what to do tomorrow. You become a bit smarter every day (well, most days, hopefully). But every organization is subject to change — always. If we can incorporate change into our daily organizational routines, we’re much better prepared for future crisis. And you can do so by giving all the things your company knows a place to live and grow.

To learn how knowledge works and how to use it most productively, a little bit of science:

Knowledge vs. information

Knowledge is always tied to humans. It is born when new information is connected with existing knowledge. To have information means you know something. Knowledge means understanding why. That’s why you can buy information, but not knowledge.
Explicit vs. implicit knowledge

We can only record and keep knowledge when we can express it — instructions on how a printer works, or the anatomy of a turbine. This knowledge is explicit.

Explicit knowledge is easy to record and structure, because it is conscious, logical, and follows a method. With a simple set of rules and some form of technology, it can be transferred to others.

But there is also knowledge we can’t simply express with language — playing piano, or the fine motor skills of a dentist. This knowledge is implicit.

Implicit knowledge is based on experience and experiences. If we can manage to make implicit knowledge accessible, we have sustainable advantages against our competition.

Matterial helps incorporating both forms into the wealth of knowledge of an organization.

Organized knowledge

To make use of all your organization’s knowledge, all members must collaborate constructively and stay coordinated. Then, individual knowledge becomes collective knowledge.

For explicit knowledge, this means above all developing models and strategic concepts for the organization, and to document rules, guidelines, and process. Implicit knowledge can be recorded as routines, mental models, and workflows.

If both are in exchange with one another, we can create organizational knowledge. The nice thing about it is: This knowledge stays in the company, even after your knowledge carriers are not present anymore.

Matterial helps save formal and informal rules and grow collective knowledge, so that no one needs to know everything. Instead, by sharing the workload, everyone has the knowledge they need at their fingertips.

Establish a culture of knowledge

To do this, an organization needs a lively culture of knowledge. It has to be open and transparent, so everyone can take part and develop knowledge. Headspace, time, motivation, and personal encounters are the most important factors to foster this culture.

How to manage knowledge effectively

To establish a solid knowledge management process, we can stick to three questions:

  • Who are the relevant knowledge keepers?
  • Which content is relevant, wholesome, and has potential?
  • How can it be communicated and transferred?

Following from this, there are some criteria for organizational knowledge:

  • knowledge needs to be kept up-to-date
  • it must be developed constantly
  • outdated, obsolete knowledge must be forgotten or archived
  • knowledge must be always always available to those who search for it
  • knowledge must be applicable to the right situation
  • knowledge of and about clients or customers is confidential

The question about the value is paramount. Only knowledge that is documented and available is valuable knowledge.
Matterial is here to help

With Matterial, we want to build the ultimate knowledge management tool, because it works how your brain works.

  • document processes and projects — so you and everyone else in your company have a reference to return to, knowing you’re doing the right thing at any moment
  • let everyone profit from knowledge — that’s why Matterial supports documents in multiple languages.
  • submit data to an editorial process — that’s why recording knowledge and collaboration is as simple as possible.
  • share knowledge — so no resources are wasted for training new staff and everyone can focus on their work.

Matterial is dedicated to giving you the best knowledge management experience, accessible from anywhere. In our blog, we share our expertise in the organization of knowledge to foster a living knowledge culture everyone can profit from.

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