Introduction to the “Knowledge Supply Chain”

A brief definition

A knowledge supply chain is an integrated, coordinated system of people, technologies, processes, and resources. These working components must create systematic movement and transformation of bits of data and information through the system such that they eventually transform into purposeful knowledge and executable intelligence.

Similar in concept to the familiar “supply chain”, the knowledge supply chain is a logistical and/or structured flow of elements. These “content elements” begin as raw materials or objects — in the form of data or information — which are eventually understood and transformed into human knowledge. This knowledge, in turn must then be transformed into dynamic intelligence that adds value to the enterprise and causes or creates focused action.

The core premise of this model is this: Without a useful or satisfactory outcome at the end point of the knowledge supply chain… the process has failed.

So this establishes the foundation raison de l’état for a knowledge supply chain – to enhance work performance and improve enterprise results. Remember we are not discussing academia or digesting knowledge for the sake of learning

The knowledge supply chain in action – improving Enterprise Intelligence

One of the best metaphors we know…

“To the body of work that represents enterprise project or program activity, the knowledge supply chain is its central nervous system

As the global business environment moves from a “technology-based economy” to a “knowledge-based economy”, the most successful enterprises will be those that fully understand and execute the Knowledge Supply Chain.

Many will consider this last statement an ‘opinion’. Others will consider it an ‘interesting perspective’. Those that take the knowledge game seriously in the 21st century enterprise will pass the rest of us up and be sipping piña coladas at the finish line while we’re still looking for it.

The primary purpose of a knowledge supply chain is to ultimately produce actionable intelligence that results in better decisions, improved work performance, and enhanced value for the enterprise.

Similar in concept to the more familiar product supply chain, the knowledge supply chain seeks to transform raw materials and components into a finished product that adds value to the enterprise. However, unlike the more tangible version of a product supply chain, the material that flows through the knowledge supply chain must ultimately be digested and applied by the human brain in the form of knowledge.

This attribute of the knowledge supply chain has proven to be the most challenging of all…. how does the enterprise convert its resident knowledge into financial gain and equity growth?

To answer this critical enterprise issue, your executive leadership MUST provide a realistic approach – one that converts the concept of the Knowledge Supply Chain into high impact processes, methods and tools that yield measurable value to the enterprise competing in the global marketplace.

What types of methods will work best?

It is very very important to understand one of the fundamental tenants of the Knowledge Supply Chain model. Improving knowledge utilization is not a project in and of itself, but rather a vital ingredient to achieving other important enterprise objectives. Typically the enterprise is already in the midst of significant projects/programs and then – realizes that knowledge assets are substantially underutilized, or even lost altogether in the implementation or execution of the initiative.

To improve this situation – i.e., enhancing the use of knowledge assets – requires a series of activities and resource applications that progressively augment the functioning and output of the knowledge supply chain.

The approach must fully understand and focus upon the elements and processes associated with the various stages of transforming data, information, knowledge, and actionable intelligence required for successful completion of the enterprise initiative. Knowledge Supply Chain projects are almost always focused first and foremost on critical results required by the enterprise.

The good news is… very good news indeed. As lofty and esoteric as the phrase “knowledge supply chain” might sound, it can be exceptionally straightforward in application – in fact, we would argue it is almost common sense… once the right operational mindset is established within the organization.

In the next few postings in this blog, we will explore some of the core barriers in the knowledge game, and discuss the good news about removing these obstacles… in fairly simple, straightforward ways.

What are the best applications for the Knowledge Supply Chain?

  • Executing complex change management projects to success
  • Responding to a major enterprise threat – mitigation of substantial risk
  • Creating or capitalizing on new opportunity
  • Training and coaching for timely success
  • Major innovations focused on Knowledge Assets / Knowledge Economics solutions

For some excellent examples of the principles of the Knowledge Supply Chain put to wonderful results… we conclude this reference with a link for the interested reader to our Track Record.


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