A systemic model of engineering knowledge management from the energy sector

2017-06-27T08:08:41Z (GMT) by M. Colechin Gillian Ragsdell
Knowledge management (KM) is key to the delivery of impact from the activities of any organisation. Impact is not just about delivering economic benefit but encompasses a wide range of outcomes including environmental improvement, cultural diversity and social change. While expressions of knowledge use and application often form crucial elements of models for implementing KM, it is rare to see ‘impact’ included within them. Some models of KM seek to address this by introducing notions of knowledge ‘evaluation’ and ‘validation’. However, none appear to have taken the holistic approach explored in this paper, based on an ethnographic study of a knowledge intensive organisation in the energy sector. The case study organisation, the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), is a partnership between industry and the UK Government set up in 2007 under a ten-year operational model with an innovation budget of up to £60 M per annum. It seeks to reduce the environmental impact of energy use and production by accelerating innovation in low carbon technologies. Guided by these objectives, the models that shaped the KM practices within the ETI have developed over time. They are ultimately focussed on creating a legacy from the organisation’s activities and delivering long term impact. In its final form, the approach employed by the ETI is based around a systemic model which: 1. Takes account of the interdependencies of data creation, information architecture and knowledge management 2. Creates outcomes through the delivery of ‘benefits’ to ‘beneficiaries’ 3. Recognises that knowledge ‘from’ and ‘about’ beneficiaries is as important in the process as the creation of knowledge ‘for’ them This case study shows that KM models can be highly effective when they are fully integrated into ‘impact delivery’ processes.