Knowledge Management (KM), as I have said in “Why Nobody has to ‘Get’ Knowledge Management”, isn’t something one would ever have to “get”.
It is something you already do, (whether you like it or not), and if you don’t like it, or didn’t know that, you are probably doing it , um … less well than you could be.
KM spans every part of your business and has multiple facets that range from purely operational, to behavioural, to legal, and so on – and if your KM activities are supporting your organisational vision then they are “good” and if they are acting against achievement of organisational goals, then we can call them “bad”.
Now, about Intellectual Assets.
For the sake of discussion, let’s use the 1998 IASC definition - “an identifiable nonmonetary asset without physical substance held for use in the production or supply of goods or services, for rental to others, or for administrative purposes”, but let’s add to that another component – that of the people themselves.
So what counts as Intellectual Assets? – for starters here are a few:
- Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks
- As yet unpatented or un-patentable methods, techniques, or designs
- Rules and policies
- The skills, abilities, experience, and goodwill of the staff
What seldom appears in such lists however, is opinion – and opinion is something that should be carefully nurtured and grounded as part of good Knowledge Management practices.
For example, a specific article in a newspaper may be of only superficial interest to almost everybody in the organisation, but let’s suppose that one expert in the organisation tags it, drags it into view, and then surrounds it with context and implications, and describes why this article is significant to the organisation and what needs to be done.
Suddenly enormous value is created, and organisational learning and perhaps adaptation can take place in the light of new understanding. It is the expert opinion that places the context and meaning to an otherwise valueless artefact, and adds to the Intellectual Capital of the organisation.
Not making use of the opinions of staff in such a manner is poor Knowledge Management.
That is my story, and I am sticking to it.
Matthew Loxton is the director of Knowledge Management & Change Management at Mincom, and blogs on Knowledge Management.
Matthew’s LinkedIn profile is on the web at http://au.linkedin.com/in/mloxton and has a web page at www.matthewloxton.com
*Don’t discount the organisation of work or people as an intellectual asset – The difference between a bag of parts and a working cuckoo clock isn’t the components, but their organisation i.e. how the parts are brought into relationship with each other.