Managing knowledge strategically

March 30, 2010 at 12:59 am Leave a comment

So here I am at the Langham Place hotel in glittering Hong Kong. About to start the 2010 Knowledge Management Conference: Making KM Productive. I’ll also be tweeting using the hashtag HKKMS10. I’ll be live tweeting – I’m @kimmar or you can watch the live tweets on the right hand panel of this blog. So far I’ve met up with various KM luminaries – Dave Snowden, David Gurteen, Max Boisot, Karl Wiig and the “silver fox”, Patrick Lambe (since I last saw Patrick, he’s sprouted a rather spiffy beard thingo and has very distinguished silver grey hair).

First up, in the speaker line up is Max Boisot – opening keynote – his topic is Managing Knowledge Strategically: The Challenge of Selectivity. He’ll be followed by Dave Snowden (I always enjoy meeting up with Dave – although he’s a bit miffed that the Welsh didn’t do well in the Rugby Sevens).

He will look at 3 questions re KM aims to help organisations make good use of their knowledge assets;

  • how does an organisation discover which of its K assets are strategic?
  • how should an organisation then deploy its strategic K assets?
  • how might an organisation then extract value from its strategic K assets?

Boisot presents a conceptual framework. There are 3 types of knowledge: experiential, narrative and abstract symbolic. You move towards abstract symbolic representations to speed up K sharing. Abstract symbolic = codified & abstract. We can own it, sell it, store it – but you lose the context that formulated the message.

Knowledge flows and it evolves as it flows. Shows knowledge creation cycle –

  • proprietary knowledge (codified and abstract)
  • public knowledge
  • common sense
  • personal knowledge (uncodified and concrete)

Scanning is process of picking up available data; problem solving process works it up into something structured; diffuse and internalise. Once it’s internalised it is knowledge.

How do we extract value? it’s not just utility. Knowledge becomes more useful when it is codified and abstract.

Looks at Boston Consulting Group business strategy framework – how competitive you are compared to competitors. How do I allocate scare resources to compete in business?  He suggests that we look at the knowledge base that underpins the business. Let’s call codification and abstraction the “attractiveness” of the business. The extent to which knowledge is diffused defines my competitive position.

Lots of talk in business of core competences. Can we identify that kind of knowledge in a firm that defines competitive advantage? Core competences are hard to imitate – so it’s uncodified and concrete.

Key takeaways:

  • map/represent knowledge assets that are strategically relevant
  • decide what to sell, licence
  • within the knowledge assets, identify your competences and gaps
  • identify where you have learning strengths & weaknesses
  • use the maps to build external value-adding networks
  • map is a guide to strategic use of your knowledge base
  • examine how cultural processes blocking the learning cycle – this cycle needs to move faster than your competitors.
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Entry filed under: Conferences, Knowledge Management. Tags: , .

Roll up Strategy in the age of uncertainty

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