Fraunhofer reference model
In order to more fully appreciate KM’s pervasive nature and importance to an organization, it is useful to make reference to an overview model. The Fraunhofer Reference Model for knowledge management presented in Fig. 3 has been recognized as one of the few holistic KM frameworks for standardization in Europe. The model is a three-layer schema that depicts the relationships between value-adding business processes, four knowledge management core processes, and six design fields of knowledge management. The following companion definition of KM complements the working definition provided in Section 1.3:
Knowledge management includes all methods, instruments and tools that contribute to the promotion of an integrated core knowledge process — with the following four core activities as a minimum, to generate knowledge, to store knowledge, to distribute knowledge, and to apply knowledge — in all areas and levels of the organization in order to enhance organizational performance by focusing on the value creating business processes.
Note the pervasive impact of KM across the entire organization. This is consistent with yet another business-oriented definition of KM used by KPMG International:
Knowledge management is a business model that embraces knowledge as an organizational asset to drive sustainable business advantage. It is a management discipline that promotes an integrated approach to create, identify, evaluate, capture, enhance, share and apply an enterprise’s intellectual capital.
Succinctly put, KM is the process through which organizations generate value from their intellectual and knowledge-based assets.4 As with all such concepts, the role of the leaders of an organization cannot be overstated. The tone and level of expectations set by the most senior manager of an organization will drive both the implementation and the results. Knowledge management is a vital component of change management. As KM initiatives are undertaken or enhanced, it is imperative that expectations and the reasoning behind those expectations are clearly communicated throughout the organization. And, as made reference to earlier in this document, a spirit of knowledge sharing must pervade the organization if the full potential of KM is to be realized. Sensitivity to the need for continual, consistent KM must become ingrained in the very fabric — the culture — of an organization if its benefits are to be achieved. Its practices must become a ‘way of life’ — not just a temporary, passing management fad. Knowledge management must be integrated into strategic planning; analysis and decision-making; implementation of plans; and, evaluation of results. This is why KM is vital to an integrated management system and is advocated by the IAEA for protecting people and the environment .