Distorted Perceptions of Knowledge Management - Page 2

Jun 17, 2004

Ben Burton

Most idea assessment processes are tied directly to hierarchical organizational structures. For example, a sales associate might have an idea for restructuring a certain aspect of the sales process. The value of that idea might initially be assessed in casual conversations with peers. However, the potential of the idea will only be realized when it is presented to key decision makers in the organization's hierarchical structure.

Ensuring the fluid flow of ideas through the hierarchy is critical to enhancing the knowledge management environment.

On the other hand, such a process implies giving structure to the capture of ideas and knowledge, and that has the potential to undermine all that is most valuable about knowledge management. Too precise a definition of what knowledge management is and what it should contain detracts from the employees' ability to be adaptable and open in their communication and collaboration.

Adapt or Die

To reap the rewards of knowledge management, company decision makers must find ways to put some structure to what must, ultimately, remain an unstructured process. Organizations that fail to nurture their employees' valuable ideas will quickly be consumed or destroyed by more nimble rivals.

So, rather than thinking of knowledge management as "tainted" by vagueness, decision makers would do well to remember that because it is in some respects vague, it is open to interpretation, consideration and innovation.

Woo Song is chairman ofIntrasphere Technologies Ben Burton is application architect, content management at the company. Intrasphere Technologies designs and builds applications that support enterprise organizations. Please send comments or ideas to Ben at

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