Companies and organisations lose grip of their core focus not due to lack of knowledge, but due to poor knowledge management. Most of these organisations do not realise their mistakes until it is too late, and they are irredeemable.
Phowad Solutions, a leading management consultancy firm, which mainly deals with knowledge management has realised the need for proper knowledge use and management and is organising a conference on the same in October.
Its CEO, Mr Moses Wadeguh was instrumental in implementing knowledge management at Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation (ICDC), Communications Authority (CA), Kenya Electricity Development Company (KenGen) and Kenya Film Classification Board. He has trained on Knowledge Management to several organisations including Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC), Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa), Kenya Institute of Research and Development (KIRDI) and ICDC.
Business Today’s Francis Muli speaks to Mr Wadeguh about knowledge management and the conference, and this is what he has to say:
Q: What exactly is knowledge management in the context of a corporate organisation and why is it important?
A: Knowledge management defined in simple terms in the context of an organisation is about getting the right intelligence, to the right people, at the right time, to make the right decision. When explaining how important knowledge management is to organisations, I always use metaphoric representation of an organisation as an organism that is presented with various decisions or choices every day to ensure survival.
In order to survive, just like organism, organisations need to understand their environment and have the right knowledge to make choices that will ensure adaptation or success. Past experiences and organisational memory should enable you make appropriate decisions today. Additionally, you should be able to anticipate the changes in your environment and make appropriate decisions to sail through the changes and stand out.
Today, organisations fail due to lack of proper management of their knowledge. They are not innovative, they lose knowledge through retirement and staff turnover, they repeat mistakes and fail to replicate successes, do not collaborate within the organisation and fail to transfer operational knowledge to staff members quickly.
Q: What are the main themes of the Knowledge conference and its expected outcomes?
A: The main theme of the knowledge management conference focuses on how organisations can get it right in knowledge management implementation and reap the benefits from knowledge management. Knowledge management holds a lot of promise to organisations but its implementation has been a problem, especially in Kenya where the practice is still at its infant stages. There are few success stories in knowledge management implementation in Kenya and with extension Africa, due to lack of understanding on best practices. The participants in the conference will get to learn on what works best, international best practices, tools to employ, success stories, expected challenges and how to overcome them. Additionally, they will interact with industry leaders and learn from them.
Q: Who are you targeting with the Knowledge Conference and why now?
A: We are targeting all the players in knowledge management starting from practitioners, experts, academicians, researchers, beneficiaries and consultants. The conference is timely as organisations are struggling with better service delivery through innovation, employee retention and loss of organizational memory through retirement and competition. Organisations, both public and private, are also failing due to lack of proper utilisation of their knowledge assets.
There are several cases in the country of failed organisations and businesses due to lack of effective knowledge management framework including Nakumatt, Kenya Airways, Banks, Telecommunications firms, even international firms like Nokia, the list is long. Every single business failure in Kenya and the world at large is linked to knowledge management.
Kenyan government has introduced knowledge management in public organisations because of the inevitable loss on knowledge management to retirement. Kenya’s public service has an aging population who are just about to leave the service. The problem is when they leave, they’ll be leaving with their knowledge.
Q: Would you say Kenyan companies are excelling at Knowledge Management? If not, what are they (not) doing?
A: Kenyan organisations are not excelling in knowledge management. In fact during our five year interactions with organisations in Kenya about knowledge management, very few organisations have been successful in implementing or introducing knowledge management in their organizations. I can attribute this to lack of even the very basic understanding on what knowledge is, the value it has for the organization and how it is linked to the overall strategy of the organisation. At Phowad Solution, we have however worked with a number of organisations and guided them through the process. They are now reaping from knowledge management. They are now innovative, agile and are gaining competitive edge. Service delivery is improving each day and their customers are happy.
Q: How is the concept of knowledge management changing with the current globalized economy powered by real-time tools like social media?
A: Knowledge that organisations require for decision making is majorly tacit/managerial knowledge. The problem with this kind of knowledge is that it is not easily codified. In fact critical knowledge for any organisation is tacit knowledge which cannot be codified at all. This is where we start looking at collaborations and social relations. We are looking at creating environments where people can interact collaborate and share tacit knowledge. The answer to this is collaboration tools. Knowledge bases are social interaction environments/tools.
At Phowad Solution, one of our automatic strategy for knowledge sharing is a social platform where employees a can collaborate and interact. Social media therefore is an important component of knowledge management. Social media defines levels of interactions and collaborations. We are looking at faster and more comfortable ways of sharing knowledge as social media continues to shape globalized economy
Q: What are the cardinal rules for a company to excel in knowledge management?
A: There are basic requirements for knowledge management success in an organisation. First and foremost you need to get it right – an organisation need to have a clear vision and objective, liked to the overall strategy of the organisation that knowledge management needs to achieve.
Without a clear vision and objectives any knowledge management framework is bound to fail. Other important enablers include support of the leaders in the organisation (management support/commitment), organisational culture, knowledge assets, best practices, budget allocation, infrastructure and collaboration.