Sidorin: KnowledgeConf is about how to maintain knowledge with an average duration of work in one place in 2-3 years

    In the modern world, products are released faster and faster, and people stay in the company on average for only a couple of years. We talked with one of the key speakers at KnowledgeConf, Alexei Sidorin, Head of Knowledge and Corporate Communications Management at CROC, about how these factors affect employee participation in the knowledge-sharing process.

    Aleksey is a very interesting person: the creator and curator of the “Knowledge Office” and the CROC internal knowledge base. Business architect and methodologist for the implementation of business applications and integrated projects. As well as the CROC evangelist on the topics of big data, knowledge management and the digital economy. Lecturer and visiting expert at Moscow State University, HSE Research Institute, MSTU N.E. Bauman, REU them. G.V. Plekhanov and other universities. Lecturer CROC MBA. Leading workshops on IT trends and innovations.

    In his report, he will describe the chronology of the establishment of the knowledge management system at CROC and give examples from his own external practice. And now we asked him questions about the main problems in knowledge management, about how the main speaker and insider sees and evaluates our April conference and what will happen at it.

    - What are the origins and what is the problem of knowledge management?

    Alexei : To begin with, the very definition of knowledge management is very broad. Each company understands it in its own way. In general, this is an effective management of the points of birth and consumption of some information within the framework of business processes of companies.

    This process has existed from time immemorial, always representing a strategic advantage. But now they are talking more actively about knowledge management, because the processes have become more complicated and the mistakes more critical.

    Previously, only a few people worked on a complex problem within a design bureau - a craftsman and apprentices. They quite successfully exchanged knowledge over long periods of time. However, now such a process is simply impossible to use - people work in companies for a maximum of three years and leave with their knowledge.
    In other words, there was always a problem, and finding a solution was always necessary. But now there are many factors that affect these processes and complicate the exchange of knowledge. Need to look for new approaches and tools.

    - Is knowledge management in this format relevant only for IT?

    Alexei: I think this is relevant for all industries where there is added intangible value. And this is almost any business, non-governmental and even state institutions. But each industry in this context has its own characteristics. For some nuclear energy, the absence of knowledge transfer processes is a blocking moment (if you do not retain knowledge, something irreparable can happen). That is why they have had knowledge management for many years - an obligatory element prescribed in the IAEA directives (International Atomic Energy Agency - the organization that controls this industry). At the same time, there are many industries where this is not so in demand.

    In IT, knowledge management is critical because everything changes very quickly, a large number of people participate in the rotation on the market, new technologies are constantly appearing. This applies to any development, not only technical (directly programming, where you need to understand why certain decisions were made), but also the maintenance of communications and interaction with customers. But, of course, IT is not the only such industry.

    - The format of the team (distributed, remote) affects the relevance of knowledge management?

    Alexei: Of course. Earlier in our presentations we even focused on this (if you have a geographically distributed company, then knowledge management is very necessary). But now I have stopped doing this. As the topic deepened, it became clear that there were a lot of specific factors that complicate the exchange of knowledge. This may be a special corporate culture, geographical distances, cultural barriers between people, industry features. In these conditions it is not very correct to focus only on distribution.

    At the same time, companies also have different tasks. In some cases, the correct knowledge base is of great importance, and in others - informal or project communications.

    - Who should deal with building knowledge work in an organization?

    Alexei:This is a good and non-trivial question.

    Historically, in Western companies (with a bias in business - towards white-collar workers) HR does this. All knowledge management grows out of the HR service, because this topic is associated more with proper communication. In Russian companies, especially in manufacturing, knowledge management most often grows out of the manufacturers themselves, who set themselves the task: “how can I reduce errors and increase efficiency through knowledge management?” According to our observations in Russia, the owner of this process is most often a certain ideological person from business or sometimes from HR (development director or other manager of level C1) who is ready to take it upon himself.

    In IT, knowledge management lives best when IT specialists themselves take it - they decide to make a tool and provide it to employees. But if at the same time IT does not have methodological support from the business, the tool will be very weak and unpopular.

    - HR, probably, in any case, you need to connect to this process, because the knowledge management in the company often starts with their regulations and the courses of the “young fighter”?

    Alexei : Any general process related to knowledge management rests in one way or another on people, their culture, and especially their interaction. Therefore, the HR, who understands the corporate culture of the company and knows which topics will come up and which ones will not go, of course, must support the process.

    But it should be borne in mind that not in all companies HR is a human resources management service in the broad sense. In some companies, this is only a personnel service, which does not fully understand the value of knowledge management and does not have an answer to the question why this process generally applies to them.

    - Does the retention of specialists who hold this knowledge belong to the knowledge management process?

    Alexei : If philosophical reasoning, it probably applies. But in the market these tasks are most often not associated. Everyone understands that it is important to retain employees, this is a key process in the company. But in our experience, he has nothing to do with a person who is involved in knowledge management.

    Is KnowledgeConf 2019 the first conference of its kind?

    Alexey : No. Every year we participate in some conferences on the topic of knowledge management. But this year I noted some peak of these conferences.

    The topic of knowledge management has been actively gaining popularity since 2012. There are even master and bachelor programs in universities, departments that deal with this topic. But until recently, knowledge management was a somewhat marginal topic, since it was difficult to assess what was included and what wasn’t. Accordingly, each event organizer interpreted it in his own way. Someone emphasized community management coaching, someone - in theory.

    Therefore, I can’t say that KnowledgeConf is the first event on this topic. But it really attracted attention due to its wide coverage - for the first time, people from different circles who, it seems to me, had never crossed paths, are gathering on the same site.

    This is the first time I have seen such a serious preparation in this area. Organizers form a community, work out topics with participants. And the first time I see such a composition of people. Everyone I have ever talked with on the subject of knowledge management goes to this event either as a speaker or as a listener.

    - What do you think is the purpose of the event?

    Alexei:Knowledge management has always lived some sort of a separate party. There are people who are seriously and consciously doing this, using the terminology “knowledge management”. But besides them there are a huge number of people who solve the same problems unknowingly. They simply create communication platforms, make portals or structured libraries. In my opinion, the goal of this event is to extend the experience of people who studied the topic from a methodological perspective to “practitioners” who simply tried different approaches, learned something from their mistakes and can learn something else. In other words, bring together all the representatives of IT and business who are concerned about this problem.

    - What will the main reports be about?

    Alexei: A lot of different topics have been planned - from the philosophy of how to properly engage in knowledge, what kind of entity is in the organizational environment, to solving very specific practical problems. Basically, all reports are built on their own experience, i.e. these are not just some stories about methodology, but practice with concrete examples.

    - Who will be interested in attending the conference? Should HR come to it?

    Alexei: HR-IT companies I would highly recommend. In addition, a lot of useful things will be for IT professionals who are faced with the task of building knowledge management in companies. The business put it to them, but they don’t know how to approach it - they need to introduce some kind of tool or do something else. No less interesting will be the very ideologists of knowledge management in companies that are responsible for development or simply want to increase the efficiency of this process, understanding that people and their intangible assets (what they have in their heads) are all that the company has.

    - Are there any positions in the organizational structure to which this would be especially useful?

    Alexei: I don’t think that at the conference there will be any special ideas that are needed only by team leaders or only project managers in order to more effectively manage their team. It seems to me that this event is not about personal life hacks, but about how to organize the entire process of knowledge management within the company.

    But if this topic is interesting, the conference will be useful in any case. Because any initiative team leader who does not want to wait until the company comes to this can start this process himself.

    In our experience, successful knowledge management processes often start from the bottom up, and not from top to bottom. When a team simply does so, because it is convenient and convenient for them, and then the proposed practices apply to the whole company.

    In this case, KnowledgeConf will be the inspirational event from which it will be possible to take any concrete steps for implementation already tomorrow. Actually, we invite everyone there. In the program committee of the conference, 24 reports were divided into four streams, so that in general it would be “more meaty”. And I think that many will find there relevant topics and cases.

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