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  Saturday, November 02, 2002

  Baking knowledge into the work processes of high-end professionals

Reading Just-in-time delivery comes to knowledge management by Thomas H. Davenport and John Glaser… This article describes a case of creating an integrated medical system for knowledge-based order-entry, referral, computerized medical record, and event-detection. This is an interesting case of a “smart IT-based KM”, and it includes the whole chain of analysis of business problem, KM solution, outcomes and success factors.

Specific things:

Why embedding knowledge into the work processes of high-end professionals is not easy (I added bullets to the citation; p.111):

  • they’re generally paid more and receive more intensive training;
  • they make decisions based largely on intuition and years of experience;
  • they’ve historically enjoyed high level of autonomy;
  • they are sufficiently powerful  that the organisations they work for are reluctant to tinker with their work processes;
  • and, perhaps most important they do most of their work away from computer screens.

Key success factors (next to the technical groundwork) - pp.110-111:

  • Convincing knowledge workers to support the system and the new way of working. In this case it was a pressing need to reduce medical errors.
  • Involving experts in creating and maintaining knowledge repository: use of several (existing or new) experts groups, which considered prestigious to participate.
  • Selecting truly critical knowledge processes to address with the initiative.
  • Leaving final decision-making to the people themselves, as people can start "resenting or rejecting the system if it challenged their role".
  • A culture of measurements "to justify the time and money spent on an embedded-knowledge systems, and to access how well it’s working".
  • "An IT organisation that knows the business and can work closely with key executives and knowledge-rich professionals".


Authors start with suggesting that KM initiatives are only marginally successful because they add an "extra": knowledge workers are expected to participate in KM activities in addition to doing their regular job. Then embedding knowledge as part of their work seems to be logical solution as it makes "knowledge so readily accessible that it can’t be avoided".

They suggest to start with technology:

While there are several ways to bake knowledge into knowledge work, the most promising approach is to embed it into the technology that knowledge workers use to do their jobs.

At this point I have two questions:

  • what are the other ways to embedd knowledge? 
  • why embedding knowledge into technology is the most promising one?
More on: KM 

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© Copyright 2002-2007 Lilia Efimova.

This weblog is my learning diary. Sometimes I write about things related to my work, but the views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

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