The Knowledge Management (KM) Depot

The Knowledge Management (KM) Depot: October 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

KM for Collaboration and Innovation

This blog post is centered around a conversation I had with Preston Simons, CIO of Abbott Laboratories during the National BDPA Technical Conference   in August. Our conversation was initiated from a question I posed to Mr. Simons concerning how Abbott was utilizing Knowledge Management (KM). At the heart of his response he mentioned how Abbott researchers were using KM as a collaboration and sharing mechanism to foster innovation and leverage similar research across the organization. Over the past couple of months, the idea of leveraging KM within the research areas of organizations came up several times in conversations with marketing, product owners, and technical colleagues at other organizations. The central theme here is that research areas are critical to new product creation and the speed to market for new products are essential to stay ahead of your competitors. KM plays a central role not only from the perspective of innovation by knowing what has been done and/or what is being done in other areas of research that can be utilized, but also from the collaboration and knowledge sharing among researchers contributing to the speed of new products to market.

To foster and support an environment of knowledge sharing and collaboration for researchers, KM offers a process of Connect -- Collect -- Catalogue -- Reuse -- Learn. This process is supported by several KM tools such as Communities of Practice (CoP), Wiki, white boarding and brainstorming tools, knowledge maps as well as knowledge Cafes. Instituting KM will uncover what you know, who knows it and facilitates the diversity of thought you need for innovation and speed to market.

One questions remains... What is your organization doing to assist researchers in fostering innovation and to speed these products to market? If you are not leveraging what KM will do for you I bet your competitors will!

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Where Have My Experts Gone?

Recently I had a conversation with one of my colleagues regarding his organization's loss of critical expertise. As people started to move in and out of the company valuable knowledge gaps appeared. In a statement of exasperation he ask; Where have my experts gone? To address these gaps the organization began hiring short term (6 months or less) expertise to perform specific duties. When these resources moved on the organization was back to square one. This lead him to ask; How can we address this long term? Where can we find experts to fill these positions long term? and... How would you address this issue? Well I guess this is the million dollar question. The first task I told him I would do is to prioritize the areas that have experienced knowledge loss and based on that perform a knowledge audit of the area that has been identified as the higher priority. In addition further knowledge audits should be scheduled for the remaining areas as his organization became more comfortable with executing knowledge audits. I did inform him that the knowledge audit will tell him what specific knowledge gaps exist, who are the current knowledge holders, and what percentage of knowledge is tacit, explicit or both.

Understanding if the knowledge gap is tacit and the specifics of this tacit knowledge would help you determine the type of expertise you need to hire and for how long. In understanding if the knowledge is explicit; your key knowledge holders may have access to this knowledge somewhere in the organization (knowledge repository/portal, network folders, on the shelf, etc.), you may also have the ability to purchase this knowledge or perform research to document this knowledge. I also believe engaging the key knowledge holders when it comes to identifying the "right" personnel to bring in to fill key positions will start to address his concerns around where to find the experts he needs.

I know this is just a start to address his problem I would like to know what others believe he should do and why. In this current economy it's only a matter of time before all of our organizations start to face this same problem!

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