Why and how knowledge truly makes a difference in all aspects of today’s organizational complex global world...
A key motto: “Trust local knowledge”...
by Meir Russ
Professor Meir Russ began to work on Knowledge Management (KM) theories and practices many years ago. He is the author and editor of a book titled “Knowledge Management Strategies for Business Development”, published by IGI-Global (link at the book's publisher web site section) (link at a full descriptions of the contents).Professor Russ states: “In 1997 I developed one of the first classes that taught knowledge management in a Graduate Business program. Since then, I have been researching, consulting and teaching that subject in numerous countries and academic institutions. Never having found a text that would completely satisfy my needs I decided to write and edit my own book.....This book is the fruition of my dream.” We have interviewed him to find out more about this project.
The book features a marked international perspective in both content and researchers involved. How did you come about the idea and how did you manage to implement it?
The idea was natural to me, since I do research and collaborate with people worldwide. The implementation was easy: between the network that the publisher has plus my professional and personal networks I had the 25-30 proposals for chapters I needed.
Did this global perspective and working with people from several countries make you change some of your perspectives on knowledge management and organizational strategy?
Actually not. It supports the notion that most of the time most of us have to deal with the same issues and the solutions are similar as long as you remember to trust the local knowledge; meaning local culture plays a significant role, and you always have to be ready to be surprised by what the implications are.
During the current economic crisis many companies need to focus on short term issues such as cash flow and drastic cost reductions. Many companies seem to have reached a standstill in their strategies. How can concepts and practices of Knowledge Management applied to strategy concretely help the current situation?
By aligning their Business, MIS/IT (Management Information Systems / Information Technologies) and HR strategies with their short, mid and long term goals, while using KM strategy as a platform, companies can identify low hanging fruits and lower costs, increase sales, etc. The trick is to align everybody with the same goals and collaborate in achieving such goals. The 2nd part of the trick is that people need to be rewarded for that (the alignment and achieving goals). The last part of the trick is that management needs to be honest and transparent during such a process.
OK, this sounds very interesting, at the same time small to mid-sized companies (the majority of companies both in the USA and Italy) can see all of this as quite out of their reach, much closer to the structural mindset of larger corporations than themselves. What do you think about this?
Not exactly. The truth is that for the majority of the SMEs, the issues are less complex because of their size; But this does not make KM less relevant. The issue here is the systematic aspect of KM strategy and management. Meaning, how they can better utilize the human capital they have and support it by the IT while providing their customers the needed services and products and effectively and efficiently manage their suppliers.
Does all of this mean that entrepreneurs and top managers are going to lose all of their power and control? Why should they be motivated to do so?
Because they will be better off. If they want creative and dedicated people working for them, they have to allow them room to grow and to provide them with the skills and tools to deliver. If this will not happen, there is only one way, down. And the question is not if, but when. In the academia, we call that transformational leader or servant leadership; but this is what it means.
Another topic much debated and controversial is the one related to the succession plan; it concerns family companies but corporations as well. Can proper Knowledge Management Strategies help this process?
Very much so!!! One reason why succession plans fail is because the value and the scope of tacit knowledge goes unrecognized and unappreciated. People take for granted too much, and they are surprised when things don’t work. One indication of that is the failure of the 2nd and the 3rd generations in family owned businesses.
Knowledge does NOT transition by diffusion. Knowledge does not transition by diffusion but by a process that can be analyzed, controlled, developed and that must be aligned with the overall goals of the organization. This is what makes KM Strategies the very key lever to organizational development and success of organizations from small to large ones and this more than ever during times of crisis and change, such as the current one. These dynamics are also at the very essence of what makes Human Capital Identification and Development more and more relevant within the daily and strategic dynamics of organizations small to large. The “Trust local knowledge” concept is very relevant also within the daily life within any organization: it means to stimulate and enable people to truly express and develop the knowledge and experience they have.
Note: further details and information regarding the book available at this link .
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