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What Is a Knowledge Management Cycle?

Peter Hann
Peter Hann

The knowledge management cycle describes the way in which knowledge is captured, processed and distributed in an organization. Knowledge may be captured from sources that create it within the enterprise or from external sources. This knowledge is then processed within the organization and distributed to the relevant people or departments that need to use it. The cycle is completed by feedback that serves to update the knowledge stored within the organization.

Capturing knowledge arising within an organization requires an overview of the points at which knowledge is being created. Knowledge may arise in a research department, from reviews or audits of systems and processes, from the experience of sales and marketing or through customer feedback or open innovation. Knowledge also may arise from external sources such as new products and processes bought from suppliers, reports compiled by consultants, trade journals, conferences and seminars.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

Knowledge must be captured by appropriate software systems or other reporting systems, or gathered by designated personnel. The capture of relevant knowledge as it arises in an organization is often one of the weak points of the knowledge management cycle. Work done for customers or clients may be filed and archived without any thought about its relevance to future projects. Appropriate archiving of useful knowledge is normally not the first priority of staff working under pressure to serve customer needs within a strict deadline. Instead, knowledge capture and information gathering usually must be encouraged by designated knowledge management personnel.

The next stage in the knowledge management cycle involves the processing and distribution of information to the points where it is needed. In some cases, personnel engaged in a particular task may access the relevant archive and benefit from knowledge stored within the organization. The distribution of knowledge also needs to be driven by personnel, such as a knowledge manager who is aware of the activities within the organization and may direct the relevant information to the activities where it is useful at the time when it is required.

As a result of feedback, the knowledge archive is updated and renewed. Feedback and experience of a product or process may lead to modifications in design or production. Marketing methods and techniques may be changed as sales statistics and the results of market research are considered by the organization. Through the knowledge management cycle, technological innovations are developed though research or open innovation and products are modified as a result of external information from journals and conferences about competing technology.

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