Best Practices

Dec. 21, 2004

It's widely recognized that corporations do a lousy job of capturing, managing, analyzing, and sharing organizational expertise. Many don't even know what they know. To tackle this deficiency head on, some companies have gone so far as to name a "chief knowledge officer." Making up their job description as they go, CKOs design knowledge directories, oversee knowledge-intensive business processes, outline knowledge-protection policies, and coordinate knowledge-exchange events. While there is ample opportunity to improve the capture, codification, and dissemination of explicit knowledge, some of these CKOs believe a corporation's most valuable knowledge assets are tacit, reports a recent study of 20 knowledge officers published in the Sloan Management Review. These company leaders seek to develop a corporate culture and physical layout that encourages conversation and chance encounters between people. CKOs are involved in the design of office space and the acquisition of learning centers and retreats. They must be as skilled at bringing together communities with common interests as they are at evaluating the latest idea-sharing technology. It's IndustryWeek's editorial mission to root out and illustrate best management and manufacturing practices. Many of the companies and plants that we recognize as industry leaders attribute much of their success to an organizational structure or culture that pushes information and decision-making authority down to where it can be most effective, be it the point of customer contact or the plant floor. After all, as Peter Drucker noted at a conference early last year, "There's no such thing as knowledge management, there are only knowledgeable people. Information only becomes knowledge in the hands of someone who knows what to do with it." IW 1000: Top Global Manufacturers IW 1000: Industry Benchmarks Census of Manufacturers World's Best-Managed Companies: Four-Time Winners America's Best Plants: 1995-1999

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