The information age is no longer a novel tomorrow; it's firmly our collective today. To that end, the vast majority of this age's employees, across industries and verticals, are knowledge workers. Their output is not a physical product but rather a brokerage of knowledge, data, or insight. And yet, though we've been living and breathing knowledge and data for years now, many companies remain ill-equipped to deal with the challenges that accompany this new world of work. If you think about traditional companies with traditional assets like cash, bonds, or real estate, you'd be hard-pressed to find everyday examples where strong companies mismanaged assets. Few great financial companies of old hid money under the mattress; rather, they invested and diversified to yield returns. Few great agencies and firms sat on burdensome real estate; rather, they bought and sold and expanded and contracted to address the bottom line. And few great merchandise companies sat on product or accepted inefficient processes; rather, they refined and relaunched to address the market's wants. So why then do so few great knowledge-based companies treat their knowledge as the asset that it is? This is a question I've struggled with for my entire career, and one which I've been trying to help companies address in recent years. In my experience, modern companies treat knowledge as a second-class citizen. In the ongoing war for product and talent, knowledge has fallen by the wayside, to most companies' detriment. And while the costs therein may not be as readily visible on the ledger as are other profit and loss metrics, poor knowledge management is as much a liability to the business as would be putting your entire leadership team on an aging propeller plane over the Atlantic in a thunderstorm. I generally think that's because the popularity of practices like lean and agile have distracted leaders from the value add that proper knowledge management can have. This is, of course, because knowledge management is generally viewed as unsexy; it's much like accounting: all business leaders know they need it, but few want to be the ones to own and solve for it. I think that's because they don't know how to execute a strategy around knowledge management nor can they quantify the ROI expected thereafter. So what do we do, and what do we get out of it? Those are the questions we're going to answer in this, the first of a two-part guest blog post series on #InTheLoop.
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