Volume 11, Number 3
is a business and technology integrations consultant for
It's a war out
there – a war of knowledge. Victory lies with organizations that
create, recognize and organize knowledge. Those who fall in
battle, fall prey to developing and implementing lengthy processes
and extensive systems to gather and manage their knowledge. The
victors recognize that knowledge isn’t static – and
shouldn’t be managed – but rapidly deployed and channeled.
mid-to-late 1990s, the business world saw the emergence of new
Internet capabilities, models, and technologies. Many of these
technologies were marketed as the 'silver bullet' solution to more
effectively interact and manage relationships with customers and
partners, address value chain challenges, manage organizational
knowledge, transform business models and processes, and manage
At the time,
knowledge management (KM) was marketed as one of the 'silver
bullet' solution technologies and models. Early KM approaches,
technologies, models, and expectations were immature, requiring
considerable experimentation and risk-taking by the investing
Even though most
of the new technologies and models of the time were unproven,
organizations were quick to adopt them because of growing
competitive pressure to 'e-enable' their processes and operations.
Perception at the time was, “No time to think, only act.”
Unfortunately, too much time and money was wasted on putting a
knowledge-management system in place instead of a
organizations that installed KM systems will now need to reflect
on creating a channeling process to better deliver the knowledge
that they have gathered and manage.
between ‘knowledge management’ and ‘knowledge channeling’
has caused executives and managers to waste literally billions of
dollars on technology projects that have, for the most part,
yielded marginal results. Over the past few years, executives and
managers have jumped into knowledge management without knowing or
defining what knowledge is or how to channel it. This approach is
dangerous, costly and highly ineffective.
be ‘managed’ by an organization. Attempts to do so, will
likely result in a detrimental reversal of roles – with
knowledge managing the organization. Organizations should focus
primarily on creating, recognizing, capturing, organizing, and
The ultimate goal
of knowledge channeling is quality, not quantity. Value created
from intellectual and knowledge-based assets involves
disseminating or ‘channeling’ knowledge to employees,
partners, suppliers, and even across barriers to other
organizations in an effort to generate best practices and
synergistic value. Three basic premises must be understood by the
organization for the channeling to succeed:
Knowledge isn’t universal. There's no consensus as to
what constitutes knowledge -- no universal template for
recognizing or creating it either.
Knowledge isn’t static. Knowledge is organic and
Not all knowledge is valuable. Organizations need to
determine what information is an intellectual and knowledge-based
knowledge-based assets can be categorized into one of two
categories: explicit or tacit.
Explicit knowledge. Includes assets such as patents,
trademarks, copyrights, business plans, and marketing research.
Explicit knowledge includes anything that can be documented,
archived and codified.
Tacit knowledge. The know-how or information that
constitutes knowledge resides in the ‘minds’ of people.
Information technology can help facilitate the channeling of tacit
knowledge through e-mail, instant messaging, groupware, and
to recognize the value of technology access and utilization for
the individuals, organizations and communities who participate in
the knowledge creation and channeling processes, and all of those
affected by such processes. However, future developments in
knowledge channeling systems have to consider two key issues:
knowledge is organic and evolutionary. Therefore the channeling
process must be focused and immediate to be of value to an
creation is a dynamic process. Knowledge is created and recreated
in various contexts and at various periods of time. It is a
process by which organizations create ‘added value’ from their
intellectual and knowledge-based assets. This added value is
realized through recognizing, organizing and channeling critical
knowledge to the appropriate people at the appropriate time.
information, knowledge is rooted in people. Knowledge is created
through the process of social interaction.
channeling is not a technology-based organizational solution or
concept. Organizations that implement a centralized database
system, electronic message board, Web portal or any other
collaborative tool in the hope that they've established a
knowledge management program are wasting both their time and
can support knowledge channeling, it's not the starting point of a
knowledge channeling program. Knowledge channeling decisions
should be based on:
In an environment
where an individual's knowledge is valued and rewarded,
establishing a culture that recognizes tacit knowledge and
encourages employees to share it is critical to organizational
need to advertise the knowledge-channeling concept as a
value-added benefit to them and their work. After all, employees
are being asked to give up their personal knowledge and experience
-- the qualities that make them invaluable as individuals to the
static. Some knowledge has little or no shelf life. It outlives
its value and becomes obsolete. Its value can erode over time.
Therefore, ‘knowledge’ should be constantly reviewed,
analyzed, updated, amended and if necessary, discarded.
Organizational management must look at knowledge channeling as a
constantly evolving business practice and process.
tend to fall into the following categories:
Those who depend primarily on information technologies for
maintaining the organization's competitive edge.
And those who depend upon people and their training through
existing educational, organizational and business models to
maintain their competitive edge.
the business world has moved to an era when 'right answers' in one
time and context will undoubtedly become wrong answers or
solutions in another time and context. Similarly, unless 'best
practices' are repeatedly analyzed for their relevance, they may
become 'worst practices' – obstructing organizational
performance and competence.
for organizations to succeed? I suggest that a complete
reinvention of the organization is needed. Knowledge channeling
isn’t merely a technology problem, but a matter of reinventing
every aspect of the organization, how it works, thinks, and
interacts both internally and externally. An effective knowledge
channeling program should help a company do one or more of the
innovation through encouraging innovative ideas
customer service response time
by getting products and services to market faster
value of employees' knowledge and reward them for it
operations and reduce costs by eliminating redundant or
and training to the right people at the right time
approach to knowledge channeling will result in improved
efficiency, higher productivity and increased revenues in
practically any organizational function.
To derive the
greatest value from knowledge channeling, organizations must
understand the nature of their knowledge-based assets and how they
link to other mission critical assets and goals. Increased
realization of knowledge as the core competence coupled with
recent advances in information technology such as intranets, World
Wide Web, and portals has better enabled organizations the
wherewithal to channel their knowledge to the right people at the