Leveraging and Transferring Organizational Knowledge

Pockets of Knowledge and Synergies

A learning organization has to ensure that it not only generates knowledge but puts in place mechanisms to ensure that such knowledge is transferred and leveraged for competitive advantage.

Often, it is the case that organizations have pockets of individuals possessing knowledge as well as specific teams that are better than the others in innovation and knowledge building. While this is good for those teams and individuals in their personal and group capacities, the organization as a whole does not benefit since such distributed and disparate as well as discrete pockets of knowledge cannot be transferred to the whole organization as well as leveraged by those seeking synergies for organizational benefit.

Knowledge Sharing

It is therefore the case that for organizations to become true learning entities, the distributed knowledge must be made available to all the employees as well as the individual stars to become team players and strive towards organizational learning goals of leverage for competitive advantage.

For instance, if a particular organization has an exceptionally bright and innovative employee who generates inventive and cutting edge solutions including inventions for which patents can be filed, such employees must ensure that once the final innovation or the invention is in place, the knowledge gained from such endeavors be shared with the rest of the organization so that it can be acted upon by others wishing to follow in the footsteps of this employee.

Online Knowledge Portals - Do not Reinvent the Wheel

For this to happen there must be organizational mechanisms in place to tap the knowledge of individual employees and stars. This can be done through building an online portal for knowledge sharing within the organizational intranet so that there is a ready to use and easy to operate system where employees can both seek and share knowledge. This helps the organization to move up the knowledge curve as any learning organization has to ensure that subsequent iterations of business and organizational processes do not reinvent the wheel.

In other words, do not repeat the same steps or methods from scratch especially when someone or somebody else who has already done so can simply let the entire organization on how to use such knowledge in an “off the shelf” manner.

IP and Proprietary Knowledge

Having said that, there are instances where knowledge cannot be simply shared with the entire organization. This happens in cases where patents are filed for such inventions wherein the knowledge becomes proprietary to the individual or the organization depending on the policies as well as the legal and other rules. For instance, if a particular employee files for a patent for his or her invention, chances are that such knowledge is indeed vital to the success of the organization as well as the team to which that particular employee belongs.

Given the high probability of knowledge theft and Intellectual Property theft, organizations must share this knowledge on a strictly “need to know” basis. With hacking becoming easier and with IP being targeted by these unscrupulous elements, there must be safeguards and firewalls that prevent such happenings.

Human Element - Knowledge Hoarders

Turning to the human element in organizational learning and leveraging and transferring knowledge, it is also the case that many organizations have individual stars that are simply reluctant or unwilling to share their knowledge with others. These “knowledge hoarders” do so because they fear that they would lose their importance in the grand scheme of things if they were to go about sharing their knowledge.

Further, with the competitive grading that is the norm in all organizations, these employees do not really have any incentive in sharing knowledge since their grade after each appraisal cycle depends on both the knowledge that they have as well as the lack of such knowledge among their peers. Therefore, to ensure that the organization benefits, the proper incentive system must be put in place so that all employees have incentives to share their knowledge and at the same time, those with more knowledge are also compensated for their efforts.

Knowledge is Power

In conclusion, with the advent of the knowledge economy, information has become one of the factors of production and hence, something to be treasured and safeguarded and at the same time, shared. This article has discussed some of the aspects of how knowledge generated in organizations can be leveraged without anyone losing out in the process.

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