Ignoring the fact that Australia is a very long way from the UK and that I have an intense fear of spiders, snakes and sharks, I recently took a trip Down Under. My Aussie mates (actually mostly British ex-pats but all of whom have developed that distinct accent of turning every statement into a question) persuaded me I was due a visit. Admittedly, I hadn’t needed much convincing, with the reminder that the food is delicious, the beer is cold and the sun nearly always shines.
My first few days in Sydney were easily occupied with zipping around the city on the superb ferry network, photographing sharks in the impressive aquarium, and seizing the opportunity to swim in the ocean. Having left behind a rather soggy Britain, it was heavenly to be in the sunshine with flip-flops (or “thongs” to our Australia colleagues) on my feet and no need for a warm coat or an umbrella.
Midway through my trip, I had arranged to visit Ogilvy CommonHealth in Sydney to meet with Muriel Wang. Along with David Chapman, Muriel and I form a global team dedicated to the management of knowledge, called Global Knowledge Management.
What is knowledge management and why is it important? Knowledge is a key asset for any organisation, but in our knowledge-intensive world, it is necessary to be able to cut through the noise. Knowledge management is the process of capturing, organising, sharing and effectively using organisational knowledge.
Obviously the starting point for knowledge is data. Whilst data can be easily stored, knowledge, intelligence, learning and wisdom reside in the heads of people. A sustainable knowledge management strategy creates an organisational memory, reducing the loss of know-how.
The value of knowledge management is better and faster decisions; by tapping into the experience of your colleagues around the world, you can avoid their mistakes, apply their solutions and make the right decision the first time. This is evidenced in our support of new business efforts, and as Muriel explained, “This is particularly relevant in Asia Pac, where products often launch later than in the US and Europe. Being able to learn from the experience of our global colleagues helps us to get a leg up on our competition, so to speak.”
In addition to improved decisions from facilitated access to expertise, knowledge management reduces “reinventing the wheel” and prevents loss of knowledge from changes in organisational structure and staff turnover. Client, brand and therapy experience can easily be forgotten if not documented, and our capture of this data into databases is proving invaluable in responding quickly to internal and external requests.
Knowledge management requires a collaborative culture and a shift from “I know” and “knowledge is owned” to “we know” and “knowledge is shared.” Global Knowledge Management meets regularly to share insights from each of our regions, and taking a brief interlude from my trip to Oz to pop into the Sydney office and meet with Muriel will no doubt enhance our global knowledge management collaboration going forward.
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