A new study reveals the encouraging finding that the proportion of companies
where HR is taking a lead on knowledge management has increased from 3 per cent
to one-fifth in the last year. Knowledge management is a slippery bit of
contemporary jargon, but there is no doubt that the knowledge of individuals
and teams in organisations is crucial to their competitiveness. The problem, as
we all know, is that knowledge is power.
In too many organisations, knowledge is a source of competitive advantage,
not to the company as a whole, but to individuals who own the knowledge – and,
too often these people go out of their way to keep it to themselves.
We have all worked in organisations where people are starved of information
through rivalries between colleagues, management cliques, hierarchies,
organisational silos or line managers who jealously guard staff or data – in
other words, through the whole gamut of organisational politics.
If this sounds paranoid, just look at how staff view their working lives.
CIPD research shows that two-thirds of employees feel they are not sufficiently
involved with and consulted over changes in their work.
It seems employers are a long way from winning hearts and minds and
developing the high performance, networked organisations promoted by management
The problem with knowledge management is that up until now, it has been
tackled in a mechanistic way and has usually been the responsibility of the IT
Systems are important – especially in large organisations – but
fundamentally, knowledge management is not about IT, but about organisational
Developing a culture where people share their know-how is not as easy as
setting-up a few databases, but knowledge management initiatives do not stand a
chance of success unless they are led by HR professionals.