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Knowledge Creation and Intellectual Colonialism Published: Sunday, May 27, 2007 By: Dr. Manuel Ángel Morales

There is and interesting organizational paradox: while organizations search the world over to benchmark best practices, very often there is a vast treasure of knowledge and know-how hidden right under their noses, in the bright minds of their own people, in their often unique structure of operation, and in their histories of their undertakings.  For decades, I have fought against intellectual, knowledge and institutional colonialism, meaning that everything that comes from the outside is always much better without taking the time to reflect on the inner resources that are always present and hidden within all types of organizations.  The paradox goes even farther in the age of globalization where ironically is much easier to compare what you have with what the world has to offer.

So, then, what is knowledge management? Is really about recognizing that regardless of what business we are in, we are competing based on the knowledge of your people.  Face with this reality, organizations have design a conscious strategy of getting the right research and information to the right people at the right time so they can take action and create value.  No amount of research and knowledge can keep the organization ahead if it is not properly shared and distributed where it is needed.  Knowledge has to be accessible and readable, if it is going to be usable for competitive advantages purposes.  Thus, the need to reunite researchers, synthesizers, brokers, translators and transporters of knowledge.  The organizational logic is that of: REFLECT, CREATE, IDENTIFY, COLLECT, STRUCTURE, SHARE, DEBATE, ADAPT AND USE KNOWLEDGE.  Let us comment briefly on these important tasks.

A key step in knowledge development is to proactively structure how the organization consciously and intentionally creates knowledge.  In order for this process to take PLACE EXCELLENT HUMAN CAPITAL, HIGH-POWERED INCENTIVES AND HIGH DEGREE OF EMPOWERMENT have to be present. To this your have to add REASONABLE TOLERANCE FAILURE, HIGH DEGREE OF PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY AND RESPONSIBILITY, ENCOURAMENT OF CREATIVITY AND EXPERIMENTATION.  Knowledge generation can also be accomplished by acquiring another organization and/or an individual.  (Davenport, Working Knowledge)

Even though you can store knowledge in formal means as base or repository, or external databases (Internet, Intranet, plus security, access and hacking issues), substantial knowledge is stored people’s head, and if this is not recognized the organization runs the risk of losing that treasure as people leave.  So turnover of human capital is critical for knowledge management.

While organizations talk about the importance of learning, intellectual capital, and knowledge creation, they often have difficulties at transforming knowledge into concrete actions.  (Pfeffer and Sutton, The Knowledge Gap).  Using knowledge requires the adequate culture in which people really want to collaborate with each other.

To successful transfer knowledge, internally and externally, the organization has to nurture the culture that systematically encourages sharing insights.  Knowledge transfer is not simply a technical use, for although information technology and electronic access and connectivity can support such a transfer, they must be embedded and focus in this business of transferring and transporting knowledge.  We can employ the CONCEPT of KNOWLEDGE MARKETING to point to the formal and informal processes by which knowledge is activated and shared inside and outside the organization.

Finally it is important to distinguish between transferring tacit knowledge (which cannot be codified) and explicit knowledge (which can be documented exchange and view), and with this inter-relationship it is possible for the organization to develop a USABLE KNOWLEDGE WORKING MAP.  Then I make my strong researched case.  ONLY A PEOPLE FOCUSED APPROACH (NOT INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY) TO KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT WILL BE COMPETITIVE LONG TERM, BECAUSE AT THE END OF THE DAY TECHNOLOGY WILL BE AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE. 

The Real competitiveness rests in the tacit knowledge.


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