Key points for Knowledge Management

Hello everyone. Last time, I wrote about the relatively new (although it has been around for over 20 years) “Agile” method in “Project Management”.

Recently, I’ve been writing about “Change Management” and “Project Management” as soft skills that problem solvers should master. And this time, I would like to write about “Knowledge Management” as a part of recent series of “xx Management” (lol).

1. What is “Knowledge Management”?

As for “knowledge management,” the concept itself has been around since the late 1990s, so I’m sure many of you have heard of it (and maybe even worked on it). If you google it, you’ll find a lot of definitions, so let me post one link here.

As an image, it is exactly the same with this “SECI model”, experience and technique (implicit knowledge) accumulated from the work that everyone casually does are made visible (explicit knowledge) and shared with other people.

SECI model of Knowledge Management
Fig1. SECI model of Knowledge Management Source:

When we hear the concept, this sounds quite comfortable (laughs). I think that almost everyone would agree by saying “That (Knowledge Management) is important”. With the advent of an aging society, more and more people with valuable tacit knowledge are retiring, and I personally think that knowledge management has become more important than ever before. In fact, I am writing this blog as part of this knowledge management (sorry for singing my own praises).

2. Why “Knowledge Management” doesn’t Work?

Well, though knowledge management sounds really good (laughs), but by looking around yourself, has your knowledge management been working well? If I imagine, there are so many “unused shared folders” and “intranet sites that no one accesses”, right?:)

Why is that? Isn’t this likely the situation?

Likely situation in Knowledge Management
Fig2. Likely situation in Knowledge Management

At the beginning stage, no one would deny it, so I think it would be decided soon. I think the problem is that people start making “vessels (shared folders, intranet etc)”. Making this “vessel” is an relatively easy task to start, and it gives you a sense of “doing something”, so it’s good. But Knowledge Management doesn’t work only with “vessels”.

3. Key points for “Knowledge Management”

In my experience, there was one case of knowledge management that had worked very well.

This was using the nostalgic “Lotus Notes!”, but it was a simple question and answer database that was almost the same as the template of the Notes, and any employee could ask a question. If someone asked a question, they would receive a response within a day (a few days at the most). This was just accumulating these Q&As. So, as the number of questions increases, naturally similar questions would come up, so if you search for it, you can find it immediately. Some of them politely posted a link saying, “If that’s the question, here’s the related Q&A!”

It’s a very simple, as a vessel. I think that the point of this example is that “answers will be returned within a day (a few days at most)”. Any questions would be answered in a timely manner, so everyone started to think, “If something happens, let’s throw a question there” and used it.

So how was this “timely response” realized? It really depended on specific person’s effort. It might be a problem from the perspective of sustainability, but I think that good “knowledge manager” is essential for the success of knowledge management (although it may be replaced by AI eventually).

4. Qualities and Development required for “Knowledge Manager”

So what are the qualities that make “good knowledge manager”? Personally, I think of it like this;

Qualities required for Knowledge Manager
Fig3. Qualities required for Knowledge Manager

Regarding the “1. Tacit knowledge” in the above figure, I don’t think Knowledge Managers necessarily need to have that by themselves. Of course, it’s best if they have it themselves, but if that’s not the case, I think it would be good to know “who has that tacit knowledge”.

2. and 3. are important, and these two are essential requirements. First of all, “2. Willingness to contribute to others“, I think this is similar to “people who like to teach”. I think there must be one or two people around you who are willing to teach others when asked questions by someone. This is the definition of a person who has a high “willingness to contribute to others”.

This is important, but unfortunately it has a strong innate element, and I personally think that it may be difficult to develop. So, I think it would be good to find such people and motivate them to knowledge management. How do you find them if you can’t easily find? For example, “people who respond quickly to emails or chats”, or “people who frequently post on SNS / people with high engagement (provide likes, and comments proactively)” may have some talents.

And then regarding “3. GRIT“. This idea was proposed by Professor Duckworth of the University of Pennsylvania. There is the TED presentation by Dr. Duckworth, so please take a look if you have time (about 6 minutes).

It’s a cool presentation, isn’t it? 🙂 It feels like it can be used as material for presentation exercises. So, what Dr. Duckworth says is that “GRIT” is “passion and perseverance towards a long-term goal”. And this “GRIT” picks up research that puts it as the number one factor in social success (aside from IQ, physical appearance, and other factors).

This is exactly very important for knowledge management. If you can’t continue even the slightest things, the situation would become “everyone forgets about it” (lol).

Dr. Duckworth says that this “GRIT” can be developed, and that “Growth Mindset” might be effective for that. I would like to write about this “GRIT” develop method and “Growth Mindset” next time.

That’s all for this time, and I would like to continue from the next time onwards. Thank you for reading until the end.

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