A recent study on the adoption of Knowledge Sharing Processes among international organizations had really bad news: employees were using the knowledge intranet most to retrieve the daily menu from the company cafeteria. Even though there are numerous knowledge management systems in the market aimed at improving productivity, innovation and responsiveness, these tend to fall short of expectations because neither management nor employees are using them for day-to-day activities. In this line of thought, Thomas H. Davenport stated “knowledge management isn’t dead, but it’s gasping for breath” in a brilliant article published in the Wall Street Journal in 2015.
Traditionally, the knowledge sharing process was focused on content management where knowledge was treated as an object that is stored, catalogued and searched. As a result, many companies have implemented sophisticated one-size-fits all repositories that ignore the organization unique structure and culture around knowledge. Accordingly, content-based strategies of knowledge management are facing low ceilings of contributions and use. The famous quote from Field of Dreams “If you build it, they will come” may work in a baseball movie, but it's an unreliable strategy for sharing knowledge. It is important to understand what the needs of each industry are: enhancing the knowledge sharing in a bank can result in reduced loan loss thanks to optimized credit ratings while in an FMCG company, it can shorten the time-to-market of new initiatives.
The need to change the focus of knowledge management from content to collaboration was illustrated by Mann and Rozwell who pointed out that “the emphasis has shifted away from just collecting content and refocus on connecting people with the content or people they need”. Effective Knowledge Management requires a combination of many organizational elements such as technology, culture, span of control and departmentalization to ensure that the right knowledge is pushed to the right people at the right time. Elqano makes it easy for executives to see the clear link between their knowledge management investment and the enhanced business value by applying incentives to motivate employees and forging alliances across departments and geographies in order to infuse the business with the best and newest knowledge.
Establishing a meaningful knowledge sharing process in a company starts with two steps. First, it is crucial to understand the level of interdependence among employees. In some industries, employees collaborate and interact more often than in others. For example, in healthcare, doctors share their visuals and diagnosis and can get demonstration from other medical professionals located elsewhere, allowing for effective knowledge-sharing. Sharing their resources and abilities is key to accomplish a highly productive and cohesive workforce. The second relates to the degree of complexity of the work involved.
Elqano transforms a company from a state of Transaction model where work is often routine and highly reliable on formal rules and procedures to a Collaboration Model where is there a high degree of both interdependence and complexity and success relies on deep expertise across functions and the use of flexible information.
In addition to guiding improvements in current company´s core processes, Elqano also helps companies evolve and adapt to new conditions. Stephen Hawking famously said “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change” and this is the reason why we named Elqano a Smart Knowledge Management Platform. As markets, customers and technology changes, organizations face the need to change not only to succeed but also to survive. Otherwise, their core capabilities may soon become core rigidities that lead to obsolescence.
The evolutionary aspect of Elqano will become increasingly important in the coming years, as the demand for new products, customers and new competitors result in rapid shifts in corporate strategies. To support these strategies, organizations will have to build new capabilities more and more rapidly and so the ability to manage knowledge to support that change will be critical.