Knowledge management and entrepreneurship: short term vs. long term perspective

Bienkowska JADE 2017

Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Member of the EC in charge of Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, went to Paris where she participated in a conference on “Strategic public procurement (Date: 02/06/2017 Reference: P-034473/00-02 Location: Paris – OECD, © European Union , 2017 / Source: EC – Audiovisual Service / Photo: François Durand)

This article was exclusively written for the Sting by Mr Adrien Lepic, the Secretary General of the European Confederation of Junior Enterprises (JADE) for the 2017/2018 term (JADE). The opinion expressed in this piece belongs to the writer and does not necessarily reflect The European Sting’s one.

In the business environment, there are new challenges everywhere and it often occurs that after 3 or 4 years of doing the same job, an individual will seek for another job/experience. As a matter of fact, in average, 25%(1) of managers change their job position every year; surely, this is perfect for personal development, but when it comes to the sustainability of a given business, this is a huge issue. This requires Start-ups, SMEs, middle market and big companies to create strategies to keep the talents within the business, while also attracting new ones.

Keeping talents is only one part of the solution: even with the best strategy, no company can manage to keep all of their talents. What about keeping the knowledge inside the company no matter who comes in and who goes out? And why not making sure that everything that has been learnt by someone is known by everyone?

Knowledge management is the solution to these questions; making  knowledge available and accessible to everyone, and therefore ensuring the sustainability of a business managed by people who might change on a short-term basis.

Making knowledge available

The first step to manage knowledge is, of course, to make knowledge available. The first example can be to save the file that you are working in a shared folder, and therefore making it available to all your collaborateurs. In order to do so, the simplest solution are often the ones that are closer to us, i.e: the variety of cloud services available online or through your mail server.

Once you have saved the file containing the knowledge that you are creating, you can think of new kind of knowledge to produce and make it available to others. After each project/meeting, why don’t you take 10 minutes to review the past week identifying one best practice and one bad practice and then write it down?

Making knowledge accessible

Having all the knowledge available is already very good. Now, think about the 30 minutes you spent last sunday finding the pictures of your holiday in Barcelona. What about the document you were sure that you saved here but it’s impossible to find. Finding files on your own computer is already hard, imagine the same scenario but on your company’s server or cloud. Here is where knowledge accessibility comes in, and more specifically, it’s fundamental role in the retrieval of correct information in large databases.

The basics of Knowledge Management (KM) are about structure, and this means that knowledge becomes useful when it is easy to find. Using tools such as an ERP, a CRM or a Document Management Systems, allows you to make sure that for each step of your process the right information are available and accessible.

But this is classical, the future of knowledge management is all about web 3.0. The principal is ridiculously simple, standardising all the information using the Object–attribute–value model and creating then a network of information. The Web 3.0, also known as semantic web, is the solution to make knowledge accessible on a worldwide basis. Imagine a world with a search engine which can reply directly to your question not redirecting you to an article, but creating tailored knowledge at your fingertips.

More than tools and process, Knowledge Management is about culture.

Every structure has its pros and cons, and for example: the knowledge coming from hundreds of Junior Enterprises, organizations managed and composed solely by university students that aim to foster and develop their entrepreneurial skills has to be managed.

Students working for Junior Entreprises stay in average a year, and although this allows a greater number of students to be part of the movement, having a such a high staff turnover is pivotal to ensure continuity, eventually leading to knowledge management to be in the culture.

To conclude, having the knowledge available and accessible is one part of the solution, but without the culture the solution is not completed. You may have the tools but if your employees do not use the tools available to them, then there is no concrete output.
It is your role to explain then why it’s so important. Make them feel that knowledge management is their chance to work in a more productive way, make them embrace what has been done so that, at the same time, they all have an opportunity to create a legacy and to have maximise their impact. At JADE you like to say that whenever we are working on a project we based our self on the past in order to create for the future.

References

(1) According to a APEC’s study 25% of the franche managers change their job position in 2015 (28% in 2014).

About the author

Mr. Adrien Lepic is the Secretary General of the European Confederation of Junior Enterprises (JADE) for the 2017/2018 term. In addition to this role, he personally oversees several departments ( Network Quality, HR, Internal Communication and IT ). Adrien LEPIC is graduating from INSA Lyon (France) with a Master of Science in Engineering and a specialization in Computer Science. Prior to taking an international leadership role, he was the Vice President of his local Junior Enterprise which was recognized as the best Junior Entreprise in France in 2016. In his position, he managed to create key alliances with 6 other engineering Junior Enterprises at national levels. In addition to his implication in the Junior Enterprise Movement Mr. Lepic has been part of the Young European which is a European Movement which promotes the European feeling.

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