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When the world changes, it is easy to concentrate on Activity ("What do we do now?"), but why not take a Knowledge view instead, and ask "What do we need to know now?

There are four generic classes of knowledge shown in the matrix below, which should be considered by any organisation going through major changes, major downsizing, or a major recession. Using this matrix, the organization can take a competency-based and knowledge-based view of the future, centred around the services and products it will deal with in the new future. Currently it has the knowledge and competence to deliver the old services, but it needs to move to a set of competencies needed to deliver the new, transformed post-Covid services. We can think about this competence transition in terms of four areas of knowledge, as shown and described below.

The 4 quadrants for mapping knowledge

  1. Things we need to know in the new world, but don’t know now. This is the future competence which will need to be developed to operate in the new world. Those organisations which come out of recession as leaders tend to be those who invest in new competence. Knowledge Management can help develop new competence through processes such as Innovation Deep Dive and Communities of Purpose. In the early days, the organization will need to learn rapidly, using their "learning muscles" on a daily basis, with close attention to the lessons learned process; acting on the lessons from the past and capturing their own lessons, both to develop their own performance, and to share with followers.
  2. Things we used to know, and need to know in future. This is current core competence which will be also needed in the future. Here the focus is on improving and streamlining the current competence, reducing inefficiency and waste, and controlling cost. Knowledge Management can help improve efficiencies through processes such as Lessons learned, After Action Review, and Communities of Practice, with knowledge shared through technologies such as Wikis, Portals and networking tools. Any staff reduction in these areas will need to be done very carefully.
  3. Things we used to know, but will no longer need. These are the competences associated with the peripheral areas of business which we will cut, and may be transferred to other bodies. The knowledge associated with these areas should be either archived, or packaged and transferred. Knowledge Management can help retain and transfer this knowledge through processes such as Knowledge Interview, Knowledge Exchange, and through technologies such as Wikis and Portals. These technologies can host knowledge assets for informing future service providers. A model can be taken from NASA, where the strategy to capture and document the knowledge from the Constellation program (cancelled by the Obama administration) started a year in advance of the program closure.
  4. Things we don’t know, and won’t need to know. These are areas of non-core competence, delivered by others. These areas are outside the scope of work of the organisation, both now and in the future, but still may impact delivery. Knowledge Management can help address these areas through the creation of communities of interest along the supply chain or across government agencies, or by using ISO30401 to ensure that the organisations you rely on are also managing their knowledge. Work with your senior managers to identify critical knowledge and map it onto this matrix, then discuss with them the Knowledge Management approaches needed to flourish in the new post-Covid landscape.

Contact Knoco Greece to learn about the knowledge management consulting services available to you in Greece.

This article was originally published on the official Knoco Newsletter in July 2020.

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