Weinberger (2011) suggests knowledge is not restricted by the confines of a physical space, such as a library or encyclopedia, or limited to individuals perceived as expert sources. The internet provides instantaneous access to vast amounts of data, providing users the ability to create and receive information through innumerable global networks. Thus, the internet liberates users from traditional restraints to knowledge, such as access to subject matter experts, and provides a medium in which individuals can learn and grow through intimate interaction and shared understanding.
In an effort to gather perceived critical knowledge or provide a repository for information, many organizations created Knowledge Management (KM) experts to manage organizational data (Davenport, 2015). Throughout the past two decades, KM has evolved from simply storing critical information and focusing on individual learning to exploiting the collective knowledge, experience, and learning of groups (Dixon, 2009). Several factors, to include inefficient KM software, internet search engines like Google, and behavioral tendencies to horde information, resulted in most KM initiatives failing to improve the flow of organizational data to the end-user (Davenport, 2015).
Image #1. Example of the Complexity of a KM Program (www.aaim.org, 2016)
From personal experience at Georgia-Pacific, KM professionals constrain employees to use SharePoint as a means to store and access information. While SharePoint provides a central location for data, it does not provide users with the personal interaction associated with networked communities or groups. The internet is far too large, and the available information too vast, for one person or a group of IT professionals to capture what is perceived as the best data to place in a shared organizational portal. As an example, employees find that data on the SharePoint is often outdated or incorrect, and the system fails as a means to distribute ideas among networked groups in the company. Much more successful is Georgia-Pacific’s use of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram as a means to instantaneously connect employees and groups to key events and data.
No individual leader or group of persons is able to harness all the existing data on the web. Learning and creativity are achieved through the combined efforts of organizational groups tasked with meeting business objectives. Therefore, it is the leader’s role to provide the group with the ability to connect with a diverse team that emphasizes teamwork and collaboration (Jarche, 2010). As always, leaders still provide their teams with planning guidance, keep the group focused, and provide a vision of what success looks like in order to meet organizational objectives.
Davenport, T. H. (2015, June 24). Whatever happended to knowledge management. The Wall Street Journal.
Dixon, N. (2009, May 2). Where knowledge management has been and where it is going- Part three. Retrieved from http://www.nancydixonblog.com
Jarche, H. (2010, February 24). A framework for social learning in the enterprise. Retrieved from http://www.jarche.com
Weinberger, D. (2011). Too big to know. New York: Basic Books.