Knowledge transfer. Business knowledge management. Building wood blocks on table.

Knowledge Management Requires Taking Charge

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Although talent development professionals say that a knowledge management process can improve employee productivity or lead to faster time to productivity, improve quality, and reduce errors, and reduce rework or duplication of effort, many organizations don’t treat it as a priority. No one is responsible for knowledge management at 47 percent of organizations, and 32 percent consider a lack of defined roles or responsibilities for knowledge management a top a barrier to effectively using the practice. That’s all according to Knowledge Sharing and Knowledge Management: Keys to a Culture of Learning, a 2020 report from ATD Research.

One step to alleviate these issues is to assign formal knowledge management responsibilities, whether to a group or an individual. A team or committee is responsible for knowledge management at 42 percent of organizations, and responsibility falls on one person at 11 percent of organizations. Knowledge Sharing and Knowledge Management found that both practices had statistically significant connections to having a culture of learning, which means that it is likely the same relationship would be observed if the study were repeated. Other research links a culture of learning to better business performance.

Of course, while knowing that someone should be in charge of knowledge management is helpful, it may not be especially useful without clear direction about what that responsibility entails. What specific tasks does a person or committee who handles knowledge management do? Responses to this question vary, but more than half of organizations with individuals or teams responsible for knowledge management cited these five tasks:

  • Instructing employees on how to use knowledge management platforms
  • Developing strategies and goals for knowledge management
  • Promoting shared knowledge
  • Selecting and overseeing implementation of knowledge management platforms
  • Tracking and monitoring the use of knowledge-sharing platforms

Of the tasks above, one that merits special attention is promoting shared knowledge. Organizations that had a person or committee responsible for knowledge management and asked them to fulfill this role were significantly more likely to have a culture of learning than other organizations that had someone in charge of knowledge management. Another task with such a connection was organizing knowledge-sharing events, although it was cited by fewer organizations. Both tasks involve having whoever is responsible for knowledge management go beyond capturing and curating information. They require this individual or group to reach out the rest of the organization and remind everyone that documented knowledge is available and valuable.

For a deeper dive into the report, join Maria Ho on July 29,2020, for the webcast ATD Research: Knowledge Sharing and Knowledge Management.

About the Author

Alex Moore is a junior research analyst for the Association for Talent Development. Alex returned to ATD in 2019 after spending a year living and working in Chile. Prior to moving abroad, Alex was a writer/editor for ATD working on TD magazine, a research coordinator at ATD, and a customer care advocate at ATD. He graduated from Virginia Tech in 2015 with a B.A. in English.

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