Harvard Business Review
The Idea in Brief
How does your company unleash the expertise of its best and brightest? Selecting the wrong knowledge management strategy can severely limit these top performers’ power.
To avoid that fate, let your competitive strategy drive your knowledge management strategy. Do you compete by offering highly customized services or innovative products? If so, emphasize personalization—experts’ sharing knowledge through face-to-face contact. At Hewlett-Packard, employees frequently travel among HP offices to discuss complex, one-of-a-kind product ideas with colleagues.
Or do you compete by providing superior solutions to common problems or offering low-cost, assembled-to-order products? If so, manage knowledge primarily through codification—storing it in databases, where employees can access and frequently reuse it. Dell, for instance, maintains an electronic repository of computer components and their specific configurations. Customers use it to place orders, suppliers to fill orders.