Oct 022011

knowledge management expertsRecently 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 asked, “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 highest 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 the current knowledge holders are, 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!

May 242010
AJ Rhem Corp WordleDuring this challenging economic time many corporations are facing the prospect of merging with other firms to not only survive but to have a sustainable and viable business in the future. With the consolidation of the telecommunications industry underway (see CenturyLink/Qwest Merger) as well as the airline industry (see United Continental merger) there is a need to identify the key knowledge holders in order to ensure the success of mergers and acquisitions.

The effect of these mergers will and often lead to a loss of valuable knowledge from both sides of the merger/acquisition equation. This loss of knowledge is due to positions being consolidated and/or eliminated, other personnel taking early retirement package or other financial incentives. The question is how do we identify who the key knowledge holders are and what knowledge do they hold? Also, has it been determined that this is viable knowledge to the “new” organization going forward and what is our plan to retain, capture, or acquire this knowledge?

All of these questions can be answered with a comprehensive Knowledge Management Strategy geared to identify viable initiatives that will address these questions. One such initiative will be to develop a knowledge map of the organization to be acquired. A knowledge map is a mechanism used to identify key knowledge and the knowledge holders of the organization. Once these maps are completed further analysis is needed to determine the process, procedures and initiatives necessary to prioritize, retain, and/or acquire knowledge that may leave. Often organizational knowledge is the reason certain mergers happen. Knowledge Management is the mechanism to transition individual knowledge to corporate knowledge and make it available for all employees to access.

There will be additional parts of this blog entry to follow over the next week. I welcome your comments on this timely issue!

Sep 052008

If your organization is either losing valuable knowledge due to staff retirement, staff moving to another department or leaving the company altogether then your organization has a strong case for Knowledge Management (KM). Specifically I want to address leveraging KM to manage your Human Capital. This is a continuation of thought around capturing worker knowledge. Managing your human capital when staff enter your organization through employee orientation, mapping their roles, responsibilities and their work products as they perform their duties and executing a comprehensive exit interview are all aspects of a KM strategy aimed at moving your human capital to corporate capital.

During the next several days I will post more aspects of this strategy and what I believe has to occur to be successful in Human Capital Management. I welcome your thoughts, comments concerns and examples of what works for your organization.