Knowledge as a resource or as a cost ?

Rob posted a blog on managing knowledge. He posed a question about how should a firm view their workers. Are they just a ‘resource’ or are they a knowledge producing entity ?

Resource View

The resource view thinks that a firm should try its best to retain employee with the most valuable knowledge within the firm. So what happen if the employee is on vacation, sick, or resigned ? How can we ensure that the firm can still operate when the resource is unavailable ?

Cost View

Some firm operates under the cost paradigm. They are interested to count every dollar and cent that they need to put into producing a good knowledge. The problem with calculating the cost of producing knowledge is that first of all knowledge creation process is uncertain. A firm may need to invest  a lot of resources in knowledge creation process such as research and learning. This investment may end up producing great result or fail altogether. Nevertheless we can’t deny the potential return that we can get from it.

The cost paradigm also views that if we can’t produce the know-how that a firm need internally, we can just simply hire external resources to do it for us. Getting help to do the work for us is great, but we still need to have the knowledge to manage these external resources. We also need to think how to absorb the knowledge that these external resources have so that the firm can still operate without having access to the external parties expertise. How many times have we tried to document every single process, steps, and know how from our service providers, and ended up in a huge pile of documents. So big until we can’t figure out how to extract the relevant information that we want from it.

Treat Resource as a Knowledge Creating Entity

Treating workers as a knowledge creating entity is an emerging trend and an effort that still require a lot of understanding and promotion to get it accepted by many organisations. A firm should be able to produce the knowledge that it needs internally. A firm should encourage its people to collaborate with one another, share what they have in their mind. Improve each other skills and create new and superior know how, skill, and processes a long the way.

A firm can leverage external service or technology providers to help the firm operates. The firm should not forget that it need to be able to diffuse the external expertise within the firm. Careful consideration need to be put in place to balance between the cost of time and opportunity between acquiring knowledge externally and producing them internally.

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About zainul franciscus

Hi, I am a software developer and tech blogger who is currently living in Wellington, New Zealand. I write stuff that I find interesting on
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