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And so wikis make it quick and easy to work with others on editing information in a webpage.


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And because users are working collaboratively, wikis can facilitate discussion and communication within a business. Wikis tend to work best in smaller teams with limited numbers of users. You often see them in the context of software development with users sharing information and insights on common issues and the development of best practices. There are, however, some downsides to using wikis. Often their free-for-all nature means that they lack structure.

And frequently the contributions are not aligned to any overall business goals. And so while there is definitely a place for wikis in modern businesses, their usefulness as a knowledge management tool may be limited. The intranet is the perfect starting point for developing a comprehensive, strategic knowledge management system.

Well, for a start the intranet is accessible to all staff who are already using it on a daily basis. These advantages make the intranet the perfect system for organizational knowledge management. Is your business based on sales? Use the intranet to enable your sales personnel to keep track of their sales numbers, sales leader boards, client relationship information and sales tips and tricks all on one central platform. Is your business service-based? Your field personnel will need to have knowledge of many types of different complex machines, common issues and how to fix them.

And so from a main menu that lists the different brands of photocopiers, the pages can naturally link off to common problems and how to resolve them. Or they could be a series of sub-pages with specific models that then branch off to detailed maintenance manuals. Whatever approach or combination of approaches you adopt, the important thing is to transfer the knowledge to the right person at the tight time. Perhaps you have a cross-departmental project that requires collaborative working amongst staff?

For example, a work group might share its ideas in a meeting, where their merits are discussed and relevant potential adopters hear the new methods. Here, sharing refers to the need to expose others to the idea in order for it to be evaluated. Dissemination takes place once the idea has passed some minimum level of evaluation. For information sharing to occur, two conditions must be satisfied. First, ideas must be in a form that others in the organization can interpret.

Dissemination is easier when the knowledge can be made explicit or formal. For many skills and ideas, this involves transforming the idea into a codified, often written, format. Tacit, or informal, knowledge can be shared as well but the means of sharing are different, requiring face-to-face contact and opportunities for experiential learning. Apprenticeships often follow this time-intensive and sensory-rich means of transmitting knowledge. Nonaka has emphasized the rich interactions between tacit and explicit knowledge While conventional wisdom on why knowledge is difficult to transfer within firms has focused on motivational barriers, Szulanski found that features of the knowledge itself and the receiver's inability to interpret it were two of the most important factors in inhibiting knowledge transfer.

The second condition required for sharing to occur is that employees with ideas must be willing to share them. Sharing takes place at multiple levels, with overlapping but distinct concerns: from a worker to a workgroup, between workgroups, between departments, between business units, and between organizations. Unsurprisingly, Szulanski found that when the relationship between the source and recipient was distant or problematic, knowledge transfer was more difficult.

Thus, organizations must evaluate their new ideas -- see whether they have worked in the past, are likely to work at new places, and actually work at new places. Employees must have the capability, incentives, and structures to perform the validation studies. At Xerox, for example, skilled technicians evaluate new ideas; the best are added into a best practices database for others to learn from.


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  6. At the same time, too much information creates overload. The Internet is a classic example, where nobody can read even a fraction of what is there. The key to disseminating knowledge is that people receive it who can use it. Several solutions exist to targeting information, ranging from the primarily technological to the purely organizational. However, we are not in such a world.

    Scholars of organizational inertia have developed complex theories of why, even after knowledge has been transmitted to the right people, it may not have been transferred to the organization. These theories fall into the categories of inadequate capability known as "absorptive capacity" in the literature , poor incentives the famous "not invented here" syndrome , and inadequate structures for example, rigid operating procedures that are difficult to update.

    Under each section, we outline steps that will promote each of the stages of knowledge transfer outlined above. Training: To effectively generate new ideas, employees need to be trained in problem solving, including an ability to think "outside the box. Companies must also provide people information on the business and its environment so their ideas are appropriate.

    In addition, employees need modern organizational skills such as how to work effectively as a team. To share articulated or explicit knowledge, workers need to be literate in the languages in which ideas are expressed in their work. In addition to spoken and written language such as English, this may involve high-order "literacy" in more technical languages such as blue prints or statistics.

    Managers and workers must be trained to evaluate new ideas. Just as importantly, they must be trained in systematically understanding what evidence should be convincing -- for example, the difference between correlation and causality, and the problems of small samples. As everyone who has ever studied statistics knows and especially everyone who has ever taught it , these basic concepts are often difficult to apply in practice.

    Once these basics have been mastered, formal procedures such as statistical process control and the design of experiments can be useful in creating new knowledge. Importantly, for most employees and managers, statistical and problem-solving training will usually be more effective if it is coupled with resolving an actual problem, instead of classroom training in statistics. Training workers to both disseminate and adopt new ideas may revolve around making them aware of where else in the organization their ideas may be useful and where else ideas may arrive from.

    Workers must also know how to use technology to post and search for new ideas. A receiver's ability to understand an idea, "absorptive capacity", can be a barrier. This can only be resolved through increasing the worker's own knowledge base, requiring an increased emphasis on substantive ongoing education and training. London: Oxford University Press, pp. Krogh, G. Enabling Knowledge Creation.

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