Comprose: Knowledge Integration White Paper (Dec 2005: updated paper location)
Agile, highly productive organizations do something fundamentally different from everyone else that enables them to successfully streamline operations, eliminate waste, exceed performance targets, and thrive even in tough economic times.
One big aspect of organizational effectiveness is the ability of the organization to disseminate information, knowledge, data to the people who need it. Coupled with the right culture and backing from management, this is the heart of many types of organizational improvement programs.
The paper's authors go to pains to differentiate KI from KM. Primarily, they want to think of KI as a wholistic approach to the business, while KM has been "misapplied." However, their description is similar to what I perceive as the "right" kind of program for knowledge management too:
When knowledge is successfully "integrated" within an organization:
- Everyone has a clear understanding of how the unique work of the organization gets done.
- Management's understanding of roles, responsibilities and methods match worker's understanding.
- It is easy to identify and remedy barriers to success and best practices are rapidly identified and implemented.
In the section on the value of knowledge integration, the paper trots out a number of familiar reasons for implementing such a program: sales ramp-up time, access to information on procedures, best practices. One of the entries stood out as plain old wrong:
The "average" worker wastes up to 48 minutes of every work day consulting with co-workers and supervisors for help performing routine daily tasks. In a 200-person firm, that costs roughly $1,350,000 a year in lost productivity and wasted payroll dollars!
Any improvement program should recognize the inherent value of people talking to one another and getting at the real issues and concerns. This just cannot happen in automated systems. Yes, there are tools that can help answer questions, but there aren't many that can help you find out how to ask the question in the first place.