How to optimize knowledge management in organizations (2023)


In a rapidly changing business environment, knowledge is the foundation for any organization to create and maintain competitive advantage. Many companies go to great lengths to meet or adapt to pressure from their customers, players, shareholders and regulators.

Consequently, business leaders have embraced knowledge as one of the organization's most important assets. Your quality and availability can make it easier for them to deal with pressure and challenges and stay competitive. Thus, companies build knowledge strategies that deal with organizational development, downsizing, mergers and internal reorganizations.

They plan to build knowledge management (KM) capabilities to a level where they are institutionalized and integrated into their business operations and practices.

Knowledge is a mixture of experience, perception, expertise, intuition and judgment that exists in the human mind.knowledge, while knowledge management is the practice of creating, acquiring, capturing, sharing and using knowledge to improve learning and performance in an organization.

The institutionalization of knowledge management consists of having activities that facilitate the continuous acquisition of knowledge. Knowledge is considered a key strategic resource to improve an organization's competitiveness, as knowledge is valuable, scarce and difficult to replicate.

Therefore, strategies are needed to ensure that employees who leave the organization do not leave with rare and difficult-to-imitate knowledge. Therefore, leaders need to develop strategies to avoid losing life experience, particularly when employees retire or retire. You must develop strategies that ensure that every piece of knowledge becomes an accessible company asset for employees.

Organizations face increasing challenges caused by market pressures or the nature of the workplace. Many organizations are now looking to knowledge management (KM) to address these challenges. Such initiatives usually start with the development of a knowledge management strategy. To be successful, a KM strategy needs to do more than just outline high-level goals like “becoming a knowledge-based organization”.

Instead, the strategy should identify key needs and issues within the organization and provide a framework for addressing them. I would like to propose an approach to developing a KM strategy that focuses heavily on an initial needs analysis. This approach ensures that all activities and initiatives are firmly based on the organization's real needs and challenges.

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knowledge management needs.

There are a number of common situations that are widely recognized as beneficial to knowledge management approaches. While these are not the only issues that can be addressed with WM techniques, it is helpful to look at some of these situations to provide context for developing a WM strategy.

How to optimize knowledge management in organizations (2)

In addition to these typical situations, each organization has unique problems and problems to solve. A World Cup strategy must address real needs and problems. Knowledge management must necessarily interact with the following organizational units;

call center

Call centers have increasingly become the main "public face" of many organizations. This role is complicated by customers' expectations of getting the answers they need within minutes of calling. Some of the challenges call centers face include:

  • High pressure environment, closely monitored
  • High employee turnover
  • Expensive and time-consuming training of new employees

In this environment it is necessaryKnowledge management is clear and immediate. Failure to address these issues affects revenue, public reputation or legal exposure.

front staff

In addition to the call center, many organizations have a wide range of frontline employees who interact with customers or members of the public. They may work in the field as sales personnel or maintenance personnel; or located in branches or behind counters. In large organizations, these frontline workers are often geographically dispersed, with limited communication channels back to headquarters. Additionally, there are typically few mechanisms in place to share information between employees who work in the same business unit but in different locations. The challenge in the frontline environment is ensuring consistency, accuracy, and repeatability.


The amount of information available to corporate management has increased significantly. Known as information overload or information overload, the challenge now is to sift through the key information needed to support business decisions. The speed of organizational change is increasing, as are demands on managers' “soft skills”. In this environment, informed decisions must be made. These decisions are enabled by accurate, complete and relevant information. Knowledge management can play a key role in supporting executives' information needs. It can also help with mentoring and coaching skills that modern managers need. The loss of key personnel can have a huge impact.

aging workforce

The public sector is particularly confronted with the effects of an aging workforce. Increasingly, private sector organizations are also realizing that this issue must be addressed if business continuity is to be maintained. Veteran employees have deep knowledge that other employees can rely on, especially in environments where little effort has been made to capture or manage knowledge at the organizational level. In this situation, the loss of these key people can have a big impact on the level of knowledge within the organization. Knowledge management can help by implementing a structured mechanism to capture or transfer this knowledge as employees retire.

support innovations

Many organizations have already recognized the importance of innovation to ensure long-term growth (and even survival). This is particularly true in fast-moving sectors such as IT, consulting, telecommunications and pharmaceuticals. However, most organizations are built to ensure the consistency, repeatability, and efficiency of current processes and products. Innovation typically doesn't go well with this kind of approach, and organizations often have to resort to unfamiliar techniques to encourage and drive innovation. Much work has been done in the field of knowledge management related to the innovation process and its promotion in a business environment.

organizational environment

Every organization has a unique environment defined by factors such as:

  • Purpose and activities of the organization.
  • overall strategic direction
  • corporate culture
  • organization size
  • geographical spread
  • Team skills and experience
  • organizational history
  • Available resources
  • Market factors, for example

Because of this, every organization has a unique set of needs and problems that knowledge management must address.

It's easy to switch into "solution mode" and recommend approaches like communities of practice, storytelling, content management systems, and more. While these approaches may be largely successful in other organizations, they will only be successful in today's environment if they address the real needs of your employees.

In practice, organizations are plagued by well-intentioned but misguided knowledge management activities. In many cases, they fail because they simply don't address a clear, concrete, and compelling problem within the organization.

This is now recognized as one of the “critical success factors” for knowledge management: identifying needs within the organization and then designing activities accordingly.

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Development of a knowledge management strategy

The effective implementation of a well-designed KM strategy and the journey towards becoming a knowledge-based company is considered imperative for the success of companies entering the era of knowledge-based economy. The purpose of managing and utilizing a company's knowledge is to maximize the return to the organization.

This means that both the principal investment and the return on that investment can be measured at regular intervals. There are many approaches to developing a knowledge management strategy, each supported by a holistic KM process model. These can be divided into two main approaches:

  • Bald. The organization's overall strategic direction is used to identify the focus of the knowledge management initiative. This is reflected in a series of activities aimed at achieving this broad objective.
  • Prost.The activities of personnel involved in the most important business processes are examined. The results of this survey highlight key employee needs and issues that are addressed through a variety of knowledge management initiatives.

Each of these approaches has its strengths and, in practice, a successful KM ​​program must include both. We need a model that places a strong focus on needs assessment activities with employees to drive a primarily bottom-up strategy as follows:

  1. Identify key groups of personnel within the organization. These groups offer the most business value or are involved in the most important business activities.
  2. Conduct comprehensive and holistic needs assessments with selected groups of employees to identify key needs and issues.
  3. Supplement this survey with information from senior management and the organization's strategic documents to establish an overall strategic approach.
  4. Based on these insights, develop recommendations to address identified issues and needs.
  5. Implemented a series of strategic and tactical initiatives based on the recommendations. They select appropriate knowledge management techniques and approaches.

advantages of this approach

In the past, many knowledge management strategies focused exclusively on the top-down approach and identified overarching goals such as "Becoming a knowledge-enabled organization." These initiatives made it difficult for employees to engage in the necessary cultural and process changes due to poor understanding of key employee issues and needs across the organization.

As a result, many of these initiatives have had little long-term impact on the organization, despite initial efforts. Given these issues, this approach focuses much more on initial needs assessment activities. The approach to developing a World Cup strategy described in this article offers several key benefits:

All included

The needs analysis approach identifies a variety of issues and requirements. Some will be organization-wide, while others will be specific to business units or individual roles.

Through the use of a variety of needs analysis techniques, the following are identified:

  • cultural problems
  • key business needs
  • double effort
  • inconsistencies in practice
  • Inefficiencies in business processes
  • Opportunities to improve policies or procedures
  • Main business risks

independent solution

The approach used to develop the knowledge management strategy makes no assumptions about the solutions that could be implemented. The approach is independent of the technology implemented or the knowledge management techniques applied. Instead, the focus is on identifying the need and then determining the solution. Talking with the team is always enlightening


Using proven needs analysis techniques provides confidence that the organization's true problems are being identified. In practice, these simply "fall out" of investigative activities, and key strategic and tactical recommendations become obvious in most cases. This simplicity makes the process easy to implement and ensures that findings and recommendations are well understood throughout the organization.


A modest amount of initial research will suffice to identify key issues within the organization. These can then be addressed with appropriate activities and initiatives. Once this first round of the project has generated tangible business benefits, further targeted investigations can be undertaken to identify other issues that need to be addressed. This repeatable mitigation approach ensures business improvements are visible even when the next round of research is launched.

Address critical issues

Many “good ideas” can be derived from the field of knowledge management. The challenge is to identify the approaches that will have the greatest impact on the organization. Starting with the needs analysis, approaches can be aligned to address the most critical issues or deliver the greatest business value. Address critical issues with the KM strategy

Significant groups of personnel

The first step in this process is to identify the key groups of people in the organization. Key employees are typically those directly involved in the most important business activities. In general, key groups of people are more likely to be on the front lines than managers or administrative staff. Of course, this depends on the type and structure of the organization.

The usual employee groups are:

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  • front staff
  • call center employee
  • field workers
  • investigator
  • production worker
  • administrative and support staff
  • Manager (senior, line)
  • IT staff

Each of these groups will have specific needs and problems, as well as those they share with the organization as a whole. By targeting key personnel groups, the range of different needs within the organization can be identified and the KM strategy developed accordingly. Needs analysis techniques come from many areas

Examination method requirements

There is a wide range of needs analysis techniques drawn from areas such as knowledge management, user-centered design, ethnography and anthropology.

Techniques include:

  • moderated discussions
  • focus groups
  • Survey
  • assessments
  • observation in the workplace
  • contextual search
  • task analysis

In practice, more than one technique should be used with a select group of collaborators to ensure a complete picture emerges. Each of the techniques is briefly described in the following sections.

possible reflections

There are a wide variety of moderated discussion techniques that can be used to explore issues with specific groups of employees. They are most commonly used with managers, consultants and other employees familiar with these types of meetings.

How to optimize knowledge management in organizations (3)

Techniques such as "affinity diagrams" can be used to structure discussions and capture identified issues. In many cases, moderated discussions are used as the main mechanism for obtaining the strategic information needed to develop the KM strategy.

focus groups

It is a specific and widely used form of moderated discussion that focuses on exploring a topic within a group. Focus groups are often used to gather information from a larger number of stakeholders and must be conducted with care to produce meaningful results. Focus groups are best used to examine current issues and problems rather than discussing future "wish lists" of knowledge management approaches. Focus groups should always be used in conjunction with techniques such as employee surveys and contextual surveys to ensure the results are meaningful.


Surveys are widely used and are a very efficient way to get information from large numbers of people across an organization. In practice, surveys are best used to gather employee feedback rather than specific information on which to base decisions.

Care must also be taken when developing the survey questions and analyzing the results. Search results should always be supported using other techniques to provide confidence in the results. Interviews are very effective in determining staffing needs.

personal surveys

One-on-one interviews are one of the most effective and widely used techniques for identifying employee needs and problems.

observations at work

This includes going into the field to observe what people are doing and the environment in which they work.

Workplace monitoring is particularly effective in environments such as call centers, production areas, field service or personnel on the move. It is a very holistic technique that identifies work patterns and environmental issues that techniques such as surveys or focus groups fail to capture.

contextual search

This is a combination of assessment interviews and workplace observation, examining issues with an employee in their normal work environment. When carrying out the “contextualized” interview, it is possible to visualize the resources used by employees in carrying out work activities. The interviewer can also ask the employee to show how he performs certain activities, for example, showing how to find information on the intranet. This technique is very effective in identifying problems with currently available information sources and tools.

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task analysis

Not all activities within an organization are of equal value. Key business tasks need to be identified and researched to understand the steps involved and the knowledge required for each step.

Existing sources of knowledge can then be identified along with key issues and obstacles that affect the effectiveness and efficiency of the task. This type of research will identify mechanisms to improve the task itself and how to improve the delivery of knowledge to those involved in the execution of the task. Complement the needs analysis with a strategic approach.

strategic entry

While needs analysis activities focus on the "bottom-up" aspects of the KM project, the overall strategic approach should also be identified. This strategic approach guides the knowledge management strategy and provides a framework for selecting and prioritizing individual projects and activities. In this way, the bottom-up and top-down aspects of the knowledge management strategy are addressed.

There are several sources of information that can be used to determine strategic focus, including:

  • Engage senior management through interviews, moderated discussions, or other interactions.
  • Organizational strategic documents, such as a business plan or annual report.
  • Results from other strategic research projects, eg. B. "Employee Satisfaction Surveys".
  • Examining foreign markets.
  • Industry "Best Practices" and other reports prepared by relevant industry or industry bodies.

These inputs can then be synthesized into a strategic approach to knowledge management initiatives. Use company documents as an important strategic input.

common perceptions

Needs analysis and strategic input will highlight a wide range of issues and needs across the organization.

Problems can sometimes be identified, such as:

  • Difficulty finding important company information
  • Inconsistent and unstructured approach to information management.
  • Ineffective distribution of corporate and regional news
  • Relying on 'rumors' and 'gossip' as the main sources of organizational news
  • Lack of knowledge sharing between related business areas
  • Difficulties in identifying and disseminating “best practices”
  • Inconsistency in advice from call center and frontline staff
  • Very heavy reliance on long-term employees as sources of knowledge
  • Cultural barriers between headquarters and regional officials
  • Duplication of work between regions or departments
  • Obstacles between policy development and program implementation

This is just a small selection of possible outcomes to give you an idea of ​​the types of issues that often drive the implementation of a knowledge management strategy.

act on knowledge

With a thorough understanding of the problems, issues, and needs within the organization, it is then possible to meaningfully determine the appropriate strategies for resolving them. This will no doubt involve a variety of initiatives, both strategic (long term) and tactical (short term).

Depending on the issues identified, these may include:

  • Improved company intranet
  • Formalisierung von Communities of Practice
  • Implementation of coaching and mentoring programs.
  • Improved document and records management
  • Facilitate the transfer of skills of retiring employees
  • Record employee knowledge in a documented manner
  • Improve policies and procedures
  • Implement new learning approaches, including e-learning.
  • Improvement of the company's personnel directory
  • Implementation of tools and processes for team collaboration.
  • Establishment of after-action review processes
  • Formalize the role of “knowledge brokers” within the organization

This is just a small cross-section of the many possible approaches to knowledge management. As highlighted in this article, only needs assessment activities allow meaningful choices between these different approaches. In practice, each organization will employ a unique combination of short-term "quick wins" and long-term projects to meet knowledge management needs.

along the road

Development and use of knowledge outputs to increase organizational performance to achieve strategic objectives. In addition, it aims to create, maintain, share and make the best use of available knowledge to improve the performance of the organization. For companies to remain competitive in the market, they must not only embrace knowledge, but also recognize it as a critical asset.

There are a number of reasons why organizations integrate knowledge management into their business processes. The main reasons are: business growth and maintenance of market share, improvement of production quality, creation and maintenance of a strategic competitive advantage, promotion of creativity and innovation, key to the company's business strategy, capture and retention of knowledge of employees, dynamic business environment and markets, knowledge building and knowledge transfer, help avoiding costly mistakes and ill-informed decisions in that order. Improved performance, realization of a competitive advantage and ability to innovate.

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Developing a knowledge management strategy offers a unique opportunity to gain a better understanding of how the organization works and the challenges it faces. By focusing on identifying employee needs and issues, activities and initiatives can be recommended with confidence that they will have a clear and measurable impact on the organization.

Complementing this bottom-up research with a strategic approach ensures that the KM initiative is aligned with broader organizational directions. This approach to developing a KM strategy allows you to focus limited resources on the organization's most important needs, to realize the greatest business benefits and position the organization for long-term growth and stability.

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