Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Working Smarter: Are You Treating Corporate Knowledge as an Asset?

Knowledge "engineering" is said to be one of the new trends in business. I'm not sure why it is called engineering, probably to make those involved think it requires high technical knowledge to manage it and to give it more prestige.

Whatever you call it, knowledge management is important in any business and needs to be considered an asset. There are many areas in which it must be managed. Management of written media that captures historical information or important details about the organisation's operations, clients, resources etc needs to be managed by using contemporary records management processes. Human capital, the knowledge and capability stored in the beings of the people who work within an organisation is equally important, but more difficult to capture. It's often only when people leave that we realise what knowledge they had.

Case Study
A huge mining company in Queensland had a restructure and retrenched a fitter and turner who had spent over 20 years involved in setting up and maintaining the mine's compressed air piping. Shortly after, a management consultant reported that several million dollars per year was being wasted in lost compressed air that was escaping from pipes and joints throughout the mine.

Mine management decided that it was time to review the compressed air piping, but then realised they had fired the only living person who knew where all the pipes were laid. After some discussion with the now disenchanted ex-employee, he agreed to return to the mine on a consulting fee of $75 per hour to help a junior mechanical engineer map the pipe layouts. This is a perfect example of an organisation not capturing knowledge ... or not capturing it early enough.

Much of an employees knowledge can be captured in recorded procedures and processes, but there will always be something that is unable to be retained and will be lost when the employee leaves. The important thing is for organisations to recognise the money they have invested in human capital and to use every way possible to ensure it is retained in their organisation.



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  2. Dianne E8:01 AM

    Good item. Human capital isn't always easy to capture ... when someone leaves there is always something that leaves with them.


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