Knowledge management (KM) is one of the fastest growing areas of corporate spending and has varied definitions as it means differently to different people. According to a Harvard Management Update knowledge management is simply a directed process of figuring out what information a company has that could benefit others in the company and then finding ways to make it easily available to all. IBM and Lotus define it as a ‘discipline that systematically leverages content and expertise to provide innovation, responsiveness, competency and efficiency (Pohs, 2001 cited by Call, 2005) while Peter Drucker concises it saying it is the coordination and exploitation of the organizations knowledge resources, in order to create benefit and competitive advantage.
Call contends that no definition of knowledge management can be definite as it keeps changing from company to company and also from initiative to initiative. At the same time, the failure rate of KM is high which makes it essential to understand the concept and theory of KM. This paper will discuss the anomalies found at the Post Office Consulting Group and how KM could be effectively applied in this organization.
KM is also known by other terms like organizational learning, organizational memory and expertise management. Thomas, Kellogg and Erickson (2001) fear that the codification of knowledge management is proceeding too rapidly and is too simple. This may make survival in the competitive workplace difficult. Knowledge is primarily a problem of capturing, organizing and retrieving information. Knowledge is passive, analytic and atomistic. Knowledge management is nothing more than getting the right information to the right people at the right time. Codification of knowledge into information implies making knowledge portable, re-usable and transferable within the organization (Hall, 2006).
The collective knowledge of employees is a critical resource of knowledge to the organization, which the organization must know how to manage this intellectual capital (Sunassee & Sewry, 2002). It is generally believed that knowledge assets or intellectual capital of their employees separates an organization from its competitors. Managing this capital involves a change in mindset as earlier knowledge sharing was not practiced. The economy and social life today are knowledge-driven and this managerial activity is known as knowledge management.
Cervara (2005) contends that knowledge process is a standardized process which depends on the manpower skills, experiences, and knowledge in the management of specific goals. The evolutionary process of variation, selection and retention (VSR) is a mechanism for developing and organizing knowledge within a firm (Madsen, Mosakowaski & Zaheer, 2002). These put together form a machine to produce knowledge. Variation is the creation of knowledge, which brings about changes in the firm’s way of operating. Through dispersion the firm then leverages the new and past knowledge across space and time.
The content that is retained represents its existing and past behaviors. A firm that can preserve the past via retention has to dedicate less resource in knowledge creation. The knowledge is stored in retention bins forming the firm’s memory. In this process, the firm’s retained knowledge is combined with new knowledge to generate a novel change.