Kaveh Moravej

Understand Your Knowledge Consumers

In one of my previous roles advising on knowledge management in a financial SME, I came across a number of issues relating specifically to the presentation of knowledge. Now, more than ever, any individual or group is capable of collecting vast quantities of information and leaving it on a decision maker's desk. There is no talent in this. The real skill in implementing knowledge management structures is to understand your knowledge consumer and to adapt to their strengths.

In our modern technology driven world it may be hard to imagine that anyone would choose to spend more time with pen and paper rather than screen and keyboard, but the reality is that there are still senior�executives out there that are far more used to working the old fashioned way. Those of us tasked with organising such personality types into a knowledge management structure have two options, either to forcibly adapt them, potentially through many hours of training with no guarantee of success, or to mould the knowledge environment around their capabilities. Every instance is unique and one should always examine the individual's suitability for each option.�Further, the potential costs and benefits�of carrying out such training should always be made clear to the client. In particular, being aware of the potential benefits can have a major impact on the client's motivation to adapt.

In some cases though there is no point in wasting valuable time if such senior decision makers prefer for different reasons not to adapt to a newly introduced knowledge environment. This shouldn't mean that the entire organisation must be treated in the same way, as others will almost certainly benefit from more advanced computer and software enabled information systems. What has to be addressed is that the knowledge system must be flexible enough to accommodate every organisation member's capabilities. If the system is too complex to understand or use, it will rarely if ever achieve its intended purpose. There is simply no one size fits all knowledge management structure that can address the nuances of every organisation, which is precisely why the diagnostic process must be made as comprehensive as possible through interviews, questionnaires and observation.

Ultimately the goal of a knowledge management structure must be to ensure that everyone in the firm benefits, without exception, as an organisation's strength is derived from what it collectively knows. Designing and implementing systems that deprive any member from access to knowledge, will�ultimately�lead to an imbalanced�structure�that fails to utilise the potential of this collective wisdom.