Tools & Resources » KM/KT Approaches, Models and Methods

KM/KT Approaches, Models and Methods

There are many ways for an organization to identify, store and transfer knowledge. Some will work better in one organization than another. This section of the Toolkit is expected to provide a high level roadmap to some of the key steps your organization may wish to consider in developing its KM/KT strategy and programs. More specifically it outlines the related approaches and activities that are important to getting started in establishing an approach to KM/KT and further supporting its more advanced development over time. Each sub-section of the Toolkit includes a number of key questions you should reflect upon when determining your organization’s or division’s approach to KM/KT.

Tip for Getting Started
Selecting the approach that is optimal for your organization will require an understanding of:

        • Needs;
        • Value proposition i.e. what business problems you are trying to solve;
        • Business drivers and business characteristics;
        • Culture and Organizational Structure (including processes);
        • Current KM/KT activities;
        • Nature of Knowledge being used and associated technology; and
        • End-Users.

What is a Knowledge Management (KM) / Knowledge Transfer (KT) Strategy?

A KM/KT strategy is simply a plan that describes how an organization might start to look at its knowledge and expertise in a strategic manner and how it will share and apply that knowledge and expertise. While the development of a KM/KT strategy is recommended, it is not necessary to wait until you have one in place before you can start KM/KT. More often than not, KM/KT initiatives begin before there is a strategy; and the strategy is a way of consolidating, improving and systematizing existing activities.

Insights from other Industries

Management consulting firms were among the first businesses to pay attention and make heavy investments in the management of knowledge and the first to explore the use of IT to capture and disseminate knowledge. Firms have chosen different strategies: Andersen, Ernst & Young, KPMG have pursued a codification strategy using internal company global electronic repositories such as industry knowledge, proposals, projects, previous solutions, tools and practices. In contrast, firms such as Boston Consulting and McKinsey have emphasized personalization KM strategies through investing in building networks of people; sharing knowledge face to face, by telephone, email and video conferencing. These firms are more likely to solve a problem by checking their “people finder’ database for expert contacts and then calling them directly.

What are the benefits of developing a KM/KT strategy?

A good and clear strategy can help to:

  • Increase awareness and understanding of good KM practice;
  • Give you a clear, communicable plan about where you are now, where you want to go, and how you plan to get there;
  • Gain senior management commitment;
  • Integrate KM into the corporate culture;
  • Attract resources for implementation; and
  • Provide a basis against which you can measure progress.


The most important factors in guiding a KM/KT strategy are the organization’s overall strategy and goals. A KM/KT strategy should also be consistent with human resource and information technology strategies. As such, there are two main strategies for KM/KT:

  • Codification: Knowledge is carefully codified and sorted in databases where it can be accessed and used easily by anyone in the company.
  • Personalization: Knowledge is closely tied to the person that developed it and is shared mainly through direct person to person contacts.


Organizations should implement both strategies but one strategy should be the primary strategy with the second acting as a supporting strategy i.e. it is recommended to move forward with a people-based solution that is supported by technology to promote dialogue (collaboration) and cataloguing know how (repository).

For example, financial companies are likely to focus on analytical KM/KT due to being heavily information-based and highly regulated; professional services are likely to opt for developmental KM/KT because people are their primary knowledge sources; process and electricity-based industries might focus more on process management and transactional KM/KT to support best practices and innovation.

As illustrated in the table below, the organizational models for each strategy differ depending on the type of organization, particularly its products and services and its culture:

Consulting Firms
Org. Models
Codification Strategy
Personalization Strategy

Economic

  • Large one time investments in a knowledge asset(s)
  • Use teams with a high ratio of associates to partners
  • Focus on generating large overall revenues.

  • Charge high fees for customized solutions to unique problems
  • Use small teams with a low ratio of associates to partners
  • Maintain high profit margins.


Knowledge-based

  • People to documents
  • Develop electronic document systems that codify, store, disseminate and allow reuse of knowledge

  • Person to person
  • Develop networks for linking people so that tacit knowledge can be shared


IT

  • Invest heavily in IT
  • Goal is to connect people with reusable codified knowledge

  • Invest moderately in OT
  • Goal is to facilitate dialogue and the exchange of tacit knowledge


Human Resources

  • Hire university graduates suited to the reuse of knowledge and the implementation of such solutions
  • Reward people for using and contributing to document databases

  • Hire MBAs who like problem-solving and can tolerate ambiguity
  • Reward people for sharing knowledge with others