Knowledge management (KM) is the activity of expanding,
storing, and retrieving intellectual capital. Intellectual capitol
is the collective knowledge (including experience, skills, data, and
information) of an organization. Transfering knowledge from employee to employee provides
another tool for improving organizational performance because it enhances
personnel access to relevant and timely information.
a 1994 study, Dr. Gabriel Szulanski led research on best practices transfer. The biggest barrier to
knowledge transfer was ignorance. All though many individuals within a company had skills, the skills were not documented or well known. So most people did not know who had which skills.
Another barrier to knowledge transfer is the lack of a personnel relationship between the source and the recipient of the knowledge. There was no personal motivation by the knowledge holder to justify the time and effort to provide the knowledge to a nonaligned recipient.
Additionally, people may not see any benefit in pursuing best practices, thus their lack of motivation is a barrier.
Research team ODell and Grayson found that although knowledge management barriers were sometimes personal, generally they stemmed from organizational structures, management practices, and measurement systems that discourage or inadvertently punish information sharing. They divided these barriers into the following five types of companies:
1-The Silo Company, Inc.
range from tiny functions to business units that focus on maximizing
their own accomplishments. These groups actively guard their
information to prevent others from excelling. This approach compromises
the performance of the organization as a whole. The pervading sentiment
is To get my piece of the pie, somebody else has to go hungry or Why
should I train my replacement? Let em figure it out for themselves the
way I had to.
2-The NIH Company, Inc.
Not Invented Here syndrome is a common malady at engineering-based or
consulting companies that value individual technical expertise over
knowledge sharing. The emphasis is on invention rather than adaptation.
Not only are many of these individuals unwilling to share their
knowledge; they are also unwilling to learn from someone else.
3- The Babel Company, Inc.
at this type of company lack a set of common perspectives and terms
that serve as the basis for effective communications and knowledge.
Every department has its own vocabulary that impedes cross-functional
communication. Employees may be willing to work together, but their
effectiveness is eroded by time-consuming confusion and
4- The By-the-Book Company, Inc.
company shares only documented organizational information. Without practical knowledge,
recipients have no opportunity to see the knowledge demonstrated. The
existence of a database alone does not cause people to share. The
practical applications, hints, and cautions of a seasoned expert makes
knowledge worth seeking out and using.
5- The Bolt-It-On Company, Inc.
company encounters resistance to knowledge transfer because its
perceived as yet another slick organizational program added to
everyones already burgeoning responsibilities. Knowledge practices and
the technology to support them must be prevalent in everyday work.