Creating Successors Through Knowledge Management

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“Kaya nga tinatawag ang isang taong successful kasi meron siyang maituturing na successor!” This may sound like a play of words from one of my personal mentors and idols in my previous organization but truth is told, you can never really say you have attained ultimate success when you don’t have something to leave behind – some may call this their legacy. My mentor also added “Yung confident ka, na umalis ka man, alam mong meron at merong papalit na kasinggaling mo na makakagawa ng trabahong maiiwan mo.”

Though indirectly, my mentor was already talking about knowledge management (KM) – a practice concerned with increasing awareness, fostering learning, speeding collaboration and innovation and exchanging insights as according to George W. Reynolds (2010).

We all know that the people in an organization are one of its most important assets. However, unlike any other asset, people come and go. Also, they are hard to replace in terms of expertise because not all knowledge they have gained are well documented (explicit knowledge) but most of these were gained from experiences and are often hard to convey and explain (tacit knowledge). KM’s ultimate goal is to transfer tacit knowledge from an expert to a novice so the impact of a lost expert is minimized or convert this tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge so knowledge is shared throughout the organization.

Through the experiences I had in my previous and present organization, I can attest that KM will surely benefit every organization.

  1. Preserve expertise of individuals leaving the organization for various reasons such as retirement, resignation, transfers, and many others. I have personally experienced being left on my own to do a work that I am not really familiar with. This was because my senior was fast tracked for promotion. I was left with no choice but to cope with the sudden increase in job scope. Though there are databases which can guide me through the “dos” of the job, I struggled in some of these which were not disclosed in the database. What I did was to call my senior every now and then to clarify these undisclosed matters. With proper KM initiatives, these could have been prevented. KM initiatives may range from a simple mentoring every after office hours or a buddy system between a senior and junior / an expert and a novice. Whereby little by little, the expert can be able to reveal to the novice how he/she does it best.
  2. Enhance expertise of people in the organization. In our organization email trails pertaining to various “consulta” especially legal ones are circulated to employees of concerned departments which served as their basis on how to deal with these situations when they arise.
  3. Exchange of ideas within the organization. Wouldn’t it be nice if a knowledge chat room will be implemented in our respective organizations? In this way, we can ask questions to expert employees and likewise received instant answers that we can apply in our daily work.

As beneficial as it is, certain barriers also prevent us from doing KM initiatives in our organization. Listed below are for me the biggest barriers in doing so.

  1. Time constraint. Competition is tougher nowadays that a day’s work of 8 hours is not enough. KM is a challenge when every employee hastens and aims of beating deadlines instead of sharing knowledge.
  2. Human nature and Competition. Sharing our tacit knowledge may deprive us the chance of having that competitive advantage over our peers and co-workers. That’s human nature and a strong barrier towards KM.

Knowledge management may need to overcome these mentioned barriers for an organization to continuously excel and preserve organization knowledge, skills and expertise. Surely when doing so, organizations can continuously excel and maintain the level of efficiency of employees, and the company more likely will succeed.

Time and time again, we should ask ourselves, what is success when you do not have a successor? Hone successors and make use of knowledge management.

“Knowledge is power but knowledge sharing is empowerment”.  Someone having the knowledge is someone who is always ready for battle being that knowledge as his/her weapon. While sharing that knowledge to someone is like giving him/her a weapon so he/she will be ever ready to any battle, with or without you.


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