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  • Kimberly Kayler

Knowledge is power? Or is it engagement?

I recently attended a seminar on knowledge management. The session started with the trainer asking us to identify what we know that others may not within our organization. Interesting question. She went on to share that the old paradigm was to hoard power. Those who had knowledge, had the power. But, that mindset has shifted. In today’s society, the way to gain power (or customers, members, market share, followers and loyalty/trust) is to share knowledge.

So what is knowledge management? It isn’t a program. It isn’t data or information. Knowledge is information that, when put in a contextual framework, produces an actionable understanding. It isn’t just data, it is trusted information that has been curated, analyzed and then can be applied. How does the management piece work? Management can be described as leading, directing, organizing and controlling, all of which can be applied to knowledge. In knowledge management, you pull actionable information together to create a knowledge culture.

Why is this important? To begin, we have a distrust of the information we get today. With the advent of fake news, most members and customers want to make sure the information they get is validated. And, for the most part, we are looking to trusted sources to do the vetting process for us. Knowledge management allows our organizations to gain a competitive advantage, benefit from greater innovation, as well as provide a better member/customer experience.

Still not sure how to apply the knowledge management concept to your organization? Well, chances are your organization creates and shares a lot of data and information. But, for this transfer of knowledge to really be successful, it must be transferable. The speaker broke down the types of knowledge as follows:

• Cognitive – knowing the “what”

• Advanced – knowing the “how”

• Systems – knowing the “why”

• Self-motivated creativity – knowing and caring “why”

Most organizations today do a great job of cognitive and advanced learning. However, if you focus only on the what and how, that knowledge is not transferable. What is transferable, is the systems knowledge. And the true goal here is going beyond the why, to instilling a sense of concern for the why.

Although organizing training, data, information and best practices through the lens of knowledge management is still new to me, it caused me to pause and evaluate one of the biggest challenges most of our customers have: engagement. Whether it be lack of engagement from committees, members, social media or the like, low engagement is likely a result of the sharing of information, not the transfer of knowledge.

More to come on this topic. Knowledge management very well may be the secret to many of the issues that plague the organizations we serve. What do you think?


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