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  December 5th, 2020 | Written by

How Management Consultants Can Fix Knowledge Management

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  • Every executive is held to the grindstone of maximizing financial and non-financial measures.
  • Consultants can improve knowledge integration by facilitating knowledge sharing around the organization.
  • . The key for executives is that organizational knowledge focuses on enhancing performance.

There is a scientific, philosophical, and organizational side to knowledge that executives should at least be aware of in today’s hypercompetitive business environment. Scientific knowledge is objective and manifests itself as provable and verifiable knowledge or truth, while philosophical knowledge clarifies that truth is inaccessible. The key for executives is that organizational knowledge, unlike scientific and philosophical knowledge, focuses on enhancing effective performance. Answering the questions executives often ask: “What works?”

Based on this view, this kind of knowledge empowers the capabilities of an organization, and actively improves its competitive advantage in the marketplace. Executives are already aware that organizational knowledge takes an objective approach and can positively contribute to a firm’s performance. This is why executives care whether knowledge is organizational or not? The simple answer is that if organizational knowledge is not shared and managed, companies may become obsolete, taken over, or acquired. The key is how to use this knowledge, enhance it, distribute it, and capture it.

Every executive is held to the grindstone of maximizing financial and non-financial measures—their careers are tied to company performance measures. Every executive also knows that company performance measures can illustrate whether knowledge management is contributing to bottom-line improvement. This article articulates a different approach and introduces a new perspective of knowledge management by showing how knowledge management consultants can help companies to better manage knowledge, meaning that organizational knowledge is power and can be used as an asset when competing with rivals. This is my experience of working with a team of top-level management consultants around the globe.

Consultants can look at three-step processes of knowledge accumulation, integration, and reconfiguration. This model to managing knowledge reflects a more strategic and practical perspective, as it is process-oriented and most applicable in the context of leading organizations. Consultants know that applying this model is advantageous and good sound strategic implementation. In this model, organizational knowledge is accumulated by creating new knowledge from organizational intellectual capital and acquiring knowledge from external environments. In the process of knowledge accumulation, the exchange of knowledge with external business partners can develop innovative environments.

Consultants can play a strategic role in expanding knowledge accumulation by applying incentives as mechanisms to develop a more innovative climate and managing effective tools to acquire knowledge from external sources. They can particularly develop a workplace which is highly effective in:

-Acquiring knowledge about new products/services within our industry.

-Benchmarking performance with competitors or industry.

-Using feedback to improve subsequent practices.

-Utilizing teams (e.g. committees or management teams) to manage knowledge resources.

-Developing and implementing education or training programs.

-Carrying out a career path program or recruitment program to acquire experts.

-Conducting organizational events (such as a “knowledge contest” or “knowledge fair”) that promote knowledge activities.

Secondly, consultants can improve knowledge integration by facilitating knowledge sharing around the organization. In fact, they can positively impact knowledge integration by creating expert groups and enhancing dynamic relationships among employees and departments and within companies. A systematic process of coordinating company-wide experts will enable companies by developing a more innovative climate within organizations. Further, it can be seen that some qualities indicating a high-performing expert group (such as trust and reciprocity) are highly overlapped with the definition of organizational effectiveness describing organizational capabilities in creating trust and reciprocity. Based on this view, it could be argued that effective coordination of company-wide experts itself can provide a significant contribution to organizational effectiveness, thereby developing a climate that all leaders aim to create. In particular, consultants can develop a workplace which is highly effective in:

-Monitoring or controlling organizational knowledge to keep products or services in line with market requirements.

-Regularly assessing knowledge requirements according to environmental changes.

-Linking the knowledge sharing system using various software and programs.

-Defining “core knowledge” or “core competence” areas.

-Using expert groups to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of organizational knowledge.

-Disseminating organizational knowledge among employees.

-Rewarding individuals or teams based on the quality of knowledge generated.

Thirdly, the knowledge within organizations needs to be reconfigured to meet environmental changes and new challenges. In this process, knowledge is globally shared with other organizations in the environment. Consultants can promote knowledge reconfiguration by improving networking with external sources and developing relationships. Further, they can also inspire organizational members to network with more successful companies. It is evident that networking with external business partners improves effectiveness, thereby providing directions for chief executive officers to develop a more effective corporate vision incorporating various concerns and values of external business partners.

Moreover, it is believed that networking with other companies contributes to the effectiveness of learning, which in turn empowers human resources by creating new knowledge and solutions. Accordingly, the process of knowledge reconfiguration can play a crucial role in enhancing organizational effectiveness. Especially at the corporate level, consultants can develop a workplace which is highly effective in:

-Creating knowledge alliances with suppliers, customers, or other partners.

-Sharing knowledge management visions and goals with external partners (such as suppliers and customers or other partners) to develop collaborative activities, shared goals, and trust-based relationships with them.

-Extending (or linking) knowledge-related policies or rules (measurement, rewards) with external partners (such as customers, suppliers, or other partners).

-Linking our knowledge-sharing system with external partners (such as customers, suppliers, or other partners).

-Facilitating and implementing activities such as conferences, contests, seminars with external partners.

In conclusion, organizational knowledge must be guarded and not shared with the competition. Any leak of such information may expose the organization and increase the operational risk. The three processes of knowledge management mentioned above, when carried out correctly, can prevent further operational risk in today’s knowledge-based economy.

One important dimension that all leaders world-wide can learn from this article is that knowledge management consultants can help clients’ companies to address the current gaps in knowledge management performance and improve their competitiveness in today’s uncertain business environment.


Mostafa Sayyadi works with senior business leaders to effectively develop innovation in companies and helps companies—from start-ups to the Fortune 100—succeed by improving the effectiveness of their leaders. He is a business book author and a long-time contributor to business publications and his work has been featured in top-flight business publications.