Boeing derives value from best practices in KM

Einstien’s blackboard“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.”

Words wisely spoken by Albert Einstein — for it’s imagination that propels innovation.  Although knowledge may only be second in the mind of the great innovator, one can not discount its value — as I’m sure Einstein didn’t.

Knowledge is power. It’s cliche, but it’s true! Knowledge is an asset that can give you or your company a competitive advantage—if it’s managed effectively.

More and more companies are realizing the value of this asset as nearly 79 million baby boomers prepare to retire over the next decade. These people possess a significant amount of know-how and experience that their employers will lose when they leave.

According to an article published in Boeing Frontiers, 80 percent of a company’s knowledge resides only within the minds of its employees. Knowledge management is an effective way for companies to harvest this precious resource.

KM provides great benefits

Meridith Levinson, author of a CIO Online article ABC: An Introduction to Knowledge Management (KM), provides a clear definition of KM:

“Succinctly put, KM is the process through which organizations generate value from their intellectual and knowledge-based assets. Most often, generating value from such assets involves codifying what employees, partners and customers know, and sharing that information among employees, departments and even with other companies in an effort to devise best practices.”

The benefits of doing so are boundless. KM supports growth, productivity and a lean cost structure because it enables companies to:

  • retain expertise,
  • develop best practices,
  • create more efficient training programs,
  • improve operating systems, and
  • accelerate innovation without duplicating processes.

Integrate knowledge sharing into culture

Boeing Company logoThe Boeing Company has done a commendable job of fostering a knowledge-based culture within its organization by implementing stellar knowledge retention initiatives. A few tools it uses to facilitate these efforts include:

Communities of Practice (COP) – a face-to-face method of knowledge management in which employees can share expertise, success stories and tips on how to avoid mistakes;

Initiatives Database – a store house of the company’s current programs and functions that employees can search to find best practices on how to implement and replicate projects that support the company’s objectives;

Internal “wiki” service– allows Boeing employees to collaborate by continuously updating information relevant to their operations;

Expert consultants – Boeing recruits its retired scientists and technical workers as consultants on select projects to provide current employees with mentors and advice.

Video – Video-taped training sessions, best practices presentations and expert discussions are used as an on-boarding tool and a resource for existing employees.

I was really impressed by Boeing’s knowledge management activities.  If you’re interested in reading more about them check out Get our heads into it at the Boeing Frontiers Web site.

3 Responses

  1. This blog caused me to consider that no employee should be content in their current knowledge and education of their employment field. Everyone probably thinks they know the most about their job and profession, but bottom line is there is constant change and updates available.

    Employees can not and will not find these new sources of knowledge without the aid and support of their employers. Employers can receive immense benefit from providing their employees with training and access to information that promotes growth and allows them to better service customers.

    Overall, knowledge IS power, but you have to know where to gain that power. Cooperations should take the initative!

  2. Stephanie,

    Yes, it is important for employees to seek knowledge and relevant information about thier fields. Continuous education is a value-added activity that can benefit you in your career, and in turn, benefit your company because you’re able to introduce new or improved skill sets and ideas to the work culture. However, therein lies the problem for companies. They must figure out how to motivate employees to share that kind of knowledge with others in the company. They have to determine which tools they’ll use to facilitate sharing. Then, they must decide how to archive the information.

    The same tactics won’t work for every organization. Sometimes, several different methods and tools must be integrated to meet the needs of a diverse workforce in a single organization. Employers must take into consideration the work environment, the employees’ work tools and daily tasks in order to determine the most effective way to implement knowledge management practices.

    Luckily, there are many options available from traditional methods (training videos and detailed instruction manuals) to emerging technologies (wikis, podcasts, blogs and more).

  3. […] After reading Todd Defren’s blog post The Responsibility to Share on, I felt compelled to send props out to Bill Ives, author of the Portals and KM blog.  Thanks to Bill’s post Knowledge Management is Alive and Well at Boeing and Many Other Places, I discovered a great article about the Boeing Company’s knowledge retention practices that inspired me to write my last post Boeing derives value from best practices in KM. […]

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