The Importance of Knowledge Management Systems

In our first class, I liked our discussion on defining organizational learning. The key theme was that organizational learning is different from individual learning because knowledge is shared. In order for an organization to continually learn and grow, there needs to be an effective knowledge management system in place. Too often when an employee leaves an organization, crucial knowledge is lost. I remember speaking with my now new boss about her effective management style, and she responded that if someone were to get hit by a bus tomorrow, how could we ensure that someone else could pick up and assume the responsibilities in order to keep the organization going? Even though we would never wish that upon our employees, she had a good point about how to run an effective organization. My department, like so many others, needs an effective knowledge management system, which is largely based on “common knowledge” or what we learn from doing an organizational task (Not necessarily knowledge gained from reading a report or doing data entry).(Dixon, 2000, pg. 11).

One student mentioned in class that her colleague created a document before he left his job in order to assist his department in pre health advising at VCU. Advising is done by subject area in his department, and he was the only employee in charge pre health students. In his job, he had created contacts and new material that would be lost when he left. He wasn’t required to create a Google doc, but he felt that his dept. would be going back to square one had he not created a helpful tool to transfer knowledge to his temporary and permanent replacement. I love how our student mentioned his tacit knowledge of the field that no one else could have known unless he were to share it. This is a prime example of what Dixon is urging organizations to adopt –  knowledge sharing system that focuses on reusing critical information to help organization’s function at peak efficiency.

I am hoping this class can help me in my job as well. While I was on maternity leave, I was promoted and given a new (larger) caseload of students. There had been a series of people before me who had advised that population of students, but no professional advising had ever been done. I feel I will need to create my own knowledge management system for this new role. I hope this class can give me the tools to create an advising structure and process where if I were to get hit by a bus tomorrow (lord help me!), someone could step into my shoes and continue my work.

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3 thoughts on “The Importance of Knowledge Management Systems

  1. I concur with you on the importance of sharing knowledge with others, individually as well as collectively. Does it seem to you that only the truly diligent or a “certain type of person” are the ones that take the time to document what they have done in order to share it with others? Personally, I feel like this is a logical step to be taken and is one that is inherent to doing a good job. However, I get the feeling that this is a minority thought and not a lot of people think that it is a part of their job and not a lot of businesses allocate time and resources to doing it. I have noticed, however, that here at VCU as opposed to the corporate world, that colleagues are more prone to share knowledge. Do you think that one needs to have a “learning mindset” in order to share what one has learned? Has your boss decuded how she would like knowledge in your department to be documented and shared?

    • Great questions, Katherine. No, my new boss hasn’t set up an official knowledge management system yet. She’s only been here since July, so I think she is still learning about each role before putting something in place. I do admire her “learning mindset” and I think being in a higher education culture, we are more prone to share knowledge (that has worked 🙂 I have never worked in the corporate world so I can’t compare, but from what I’ve heard in our group discussions, allocating time and resources to setting up knowledge management systems isn’t the norm. Thanks for the good questions. I got me thinking bright and early this morning! 🙂

  2. You’re welcome. Sorry about the typo for “decided”. I couldn’t figure out how to edit that. Please keep me posted on what your boss decides to implement. I would be interested in hearing about what she comes up with.

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