Why Knowledge Management is at the Heart of Learning

Knowledge and learning are inextricable. It is through learning that individuals and organisations acquire knowledge.  Knowledge is an organisation’s most important intangible asset. An organisation must be willing to invest in Knowledge Management (KM) to harness the power of collective knowledge and learning.  

KM focuses on knowledge processes which include creation, acquisition, storing, sharing, and utilisation of knowledge. These processes support organisational learning, unlearning, and re-learning.  

Knowledge-Driven Culture  

KM fosters a culture of curiosity and experimentation inside an organisation. Integral to this is an open and fear-free culture – one in which failure is framed as a learning opportunity. This encourages sharing and learning from each other’s experiences. Transparency when things go wrong allows organisations to uncover the root causes of failure – rather than assigning blame. Read more on Embracing Failure. The lessons from sharing experiences – both successes and failures – can be synthesised and incorporated into organisational processes.  

Time for Reflection  

KM is about creating time to support learning. Organisations must be willing to carve out time for high-quality conscious reflection. They should revisit what has happened and how to apply that experience in the future. KM methods can support this type of reflection – examples include After Action Reviews and Retrospects.  

KM Systems  

Implementing a KM System (KMS) can support continuous learning. A KMS is a platform where content and information are curated, making it easy and convenient to access. It acts as a single information centre that can also foster collaboration and efficiency.  

Take an organisation that provides health services, for example. Dispersed practitioners can share articles, research studies, and case studies and discuss these via the KMS. It encourages clinicians to share their learning and experiences through a centralised platform. This promotes learning and allows others to access the latest information.  

A Learning Enabler  

Through capturing, preserving, and disseminating knowledge, KM can also be used to enhance organisational learning and development, enabling individuals and organisations to learn in the following ways:  

  • By sharing knowledge, individuals and organisations can learn from each other.
  • By providing a platform to collaborate, KM supports collective learning and creation of new knowledge and ideas.
  • By enabling individuals and teams to learn from past experiences, organisations can improve their processes and services, and achieve better outcomes.  

By promoting a culture of knowledge sharing, investing time for reflection, and implementing an effective KMS, organisations can improve their organisational outcomes, innovate, and make a meaningful impact.  

Contributor: Ilana Botha, Senior Knowledge Management Consultant, Consult KM International

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