This article marks the start of the CTI blog series: “Knowledge management via process management”, in which we concretize the Probst building block model, interlink it with process management and present our experiences with the individual building blocks of
knowledge identification, knowledge acquisition, knowledge development, knowledge distribution (knowledge transfer), knowledge use and knowledge preservation based on practical use cases from our consulting practice. Each building block will be highlighted in a separate blog article and we will show what implementation through BPM and selected knowledge management measures can look like.
Since the 1980s, knowledge management has been concerned with the question of how knowledge is acquired, developed, transferred and stored. Various models offer solutions for dealing with knowledge in organizations. One such model is the building block model developed by Probst et al. in 1997. Even though the idea of knowledge management is not new, it is more relevant than ever, as data and the knowledge generated from it represent a decisive competitive advantage and production factor nowadays.
But what exactly is knowledge?
Knowledge is created through communication and the associated thinking, acting and learning of people. In order to be able to generate knowledge, information must be interpreted on the basis of prior knowledge and become part of one’s own action schema. Knowledge also includes those skills that make communication possible in the first place, without having to be explicitly formulated. This results in a distinction between implicit and explicit knowledge. Implicit knowledge is strongly linked to an individual and is difficult to measure and communicate. This knowledge is difficult to articulate and is based on experience, which encompasses both knowledge and ability. Explicit knowledge, on the other hand, can be formulated and reproduced, and can be passed on through language and numbers. It is clearly coded and allows for new interpretations.
In the context of an organization, knowledge management is needed to develop strategies for creating an intelligent organization. The knowledge of individual organizational members can develop into collective, and thus organizational, knowledge through coordinated collaboration. Just like the independent knowledge of individual members, this collective knowledge can also be explicit or implicit. It is particularly valuable for organizations if the tacit knowledge of employees can be extended to the entire organization and continuously enriched in the process. This can create competitive advantages for the company, as this knowledge is difficult to imitate and is not tied to individual employees.
Knowledge management models can be used to simplify complex issues. They provide orientation and can contribute to an organization-wide understanding of knowledge management. One of the most widely used models is the Probst et al. building block model, which companies can use to uncover and better understand knowledge problems within their organization. The model aims to support organizations in “[…] improving organizational capabilities at all levels of the organization through better management of the resource ‘knowledge’.” Knowledge management is divided into eight separate areas, the so-called building blocks, which fall into the categories of goal setting, implementation and evaluation. The model consists of two levels: the strategic level, which shows the management tasks, and the operational level, which represents the practical level. The building blocks are interdependent, so that the cycle does not have to be unidirectional and should be understood as a network. However, all building blocks should be considered equally.
In the articles in this blog series, you can find out what is behind the individual building blocks in detail, where they are used in practice and which process and knowledge management measures can be used to support the building blocks.
As the building blocks in the model itself do not provide a structure, it makes sense to weave them into the company’s processes as activities. In this way, knowledge management takes place during operational activities and the documented knowledge can be used in other processes. For these reasons, we focus on the operational level of the building block model in our articles. From a process point of view, we work out in which processes knowledge is created, where it is stored and how it can be used.
CTI CONSULTING supports you in identifying, developing, acquiring, distributing, utilizing and preserving your company-specific knowledge. Through the interdisciplinary cooperation of different skills, we achieve the ideal balance for you between schedule, budget and a sustainable target architecture.
CTI CONSULTING offers you comprehensive knowledge in the field of process management and can support you in process mapping through interviews and subsequent modeling, as well as enrichment with specific process information (such as responsibilities and more detailed task descriptions) and the creation and storage of relevant documents, thus ensuring that your knowledge is retained in the company regardless of who is involved.