Knowledge Flow Management

Enhance adaptiveness and organizational learning by strengthening feedback and communications.

Establishing trust and removing obstacles to knowledge sharing are crucial to improve organizational performance through flexibility, adaptability and organizational learning.

Knowledge is an intangible asset that mostly resides in people's heads. Your knowledge base walks out of the door every evening.

Managing knowledge flow requires the right mix of organizational practices and technology support. It requires an interplay between 'soft' cultural enablers and 'hard' technology. Knowledge creation and sharing can only flourish in a climate of trust and openness, in an environment that rewards creativity and is not overly risk-adverse. Technology provides crucial support for knowledge-intensive activities.

Knowledge flow is a recurring process that can be systemically supported.

SECI diagram

SECI knowledge flow cycle

The SECI knowledge cycle starts out in a state of internalized knowledge. Through years of experience, knowledge professionals have acquired problem solving expertise, that is hard to put down in words. This tacit knowledge is something we know, but we don't know how we know.

The knowledge flow cycle then runs through four phases:

Socialization
In collaboration between co-workers, a dialog between peers surfaces hidden patterns. Developing a shared language in a social context enables the articulation of previously hidden (tacit) knowledge.
Externalization
Reflection and analysis refine insights into explicit knowledge, that can be shared and disseminated. Responses from the wider community contribute to the development of a systemic body of explicit knowledge.
Combination
Combining various knowledge gems from different sources, new insights are synthesized in a creative process that forges new meanings.
Internalization
The newly synthesized knowledge is then assimilated, applied and internalized by individuals, starting the cycle anew.

In each phase along the cycle, knowledge is shared and new knowledge is created.

Knowledge management systems, work practices and cultural attitudes need to be jointly optimized to support knowledge flow across the knowledge flow cycle.