Information Management is the buzzword of the day. Organizations are spending billions of dollars to explore how the information assets of the enterprise may be better managed. So what is this entire concept of information management and how could one do it effectively?
According to Wikipedia, Information management is the effective collection and management of information from one or more sources and the distribution of that information to one or more stake holders within the enterprise. This sometimes involves those who have a stake in, or a right to that information. Management means the organization of and control over the planning, controlling, processing, structure and organisation, evaluating and reporting of information activities in order to meet organizational objectives.
But to really understand it well, we need to understand the structure of information assets residing with the enterprises and how the organization needs to redesign its processes to leverage its benefits.
Typically, the knowledge which is extracted from information would be classifiable into tacit and explicit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is knowledge which resides within the minds of the employees. It is never documented formally. Explicit knowledge is the knowledge that is documented and is available through sharing. Effective knowledge management, or effective information management has to address both the tacit and explicit knowledge which is residing within an enterprise.
While the explicit knowledge is easy to share, bu introducing the proper processes and tools, it is the tacit knowledge which is more difficult to share, through formal networks. For sharing explicit knowledge, document sharing system, share-points, shared servers, and similar collaborating tools may be extensively used within the organization. This may help to reduce the “reinvention of the wheel” problem and ensure that the organization’s focussed efforts are better utilized and more directed.
However, the challenges lie in managing and sharing the tacit knowledge assets. How could managers leverage upon the tacit information assets residing within their enterprise.
This is where more focus of the senior management is required, at the executive level to provide actionable strategy for implementation. The team members who are working in a project may be brought out in regular intervals to share their learning experiences, which helps to highlight their contribution. A podium is often a vent of exasperation as well as a platform for recognition of self fulfillment of objectives. Provide your employees the much desired platform and they are likely to share whole heartedly what they know.
Mentor-ship programmes are also very helpful. Tagging a new employee to a senior provides the senior an elevation, and thus an achievement and fulfillment of a higher order need. The mentor develops an affection over time, and feels responsible for the performance, development and growth of the mentee, if there is a formal mentor ship program in the organization. This helps significantly to capture the tacit knowledge better by the mentee, as well as a lot of explicit knowledge is more effectively assimilated.
Last but not the least, group discussions are a great way to bring out the tacit knowledge. Triggers often are useful. If a member of a group discussion is silent for some time, the lead must probe and provide space for the person to share his thoughts. Further, debates often may bring out interesting insights. These help to co-create a better understanding of the domain and thus leverage upon the collective insight of the group of experts in a collaborative manner.
Now, it is important to understand, the above mentioned processes will only be successful in any organization, provided there is support from the top management to recognize such efforts. Their involvement in such strategy formulation becomes critical for the success of the same.
What do you think? Feel free to share your thoughts.