Has Knowledge Management disguised itself as Lean Marketing?


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It is not a disguise it is reality. Your marketing department should be investing many of their resources in capturing and building a structure for knowledge management. It is the core competence of your organization. If you look at the sole purpose of a Lean Marketing department it is disseminating pertinent information to the customer when he wants it and in the format of his choosing. That is Extreme Value. Most purchases are not made because you were cute and clever. They are made because you provided the knowledge the customer required and in doing so built a relationship with the customer of respect and trust.

As organizations have become flatter a constant flow of information is required not only throughout your organization but you must mimic the flow of information needed by your customer. This information flow cannot be funneled thru one person or even most of time who is saying what, when. The ultimate water cooler talk has now become a virtually oasis of knowledge. Not one person is an expert anymore. Not even one department can sell a job anymore. Your customer’s VP wants to talk to your VP, IT wants to talk to IT and Purchasing wants to talk to the Supply Chain Leader. The only person that no one wants to talk to is marketing (joke). Marketing must take the responsibility of making sure that the knowledge continuously flows and through the right channels – hence knowledge management. An excellent case study of this is Amazon. The information that flows as you click through their site is extraordinary.

Marketing must create systems that allow employees to collaborate, capture and share their knowledge without creating additional work or interruption of their job. It must become part of the process of work that they do. Of course, there will be times that this is not possible but it cannot be underestimated the importance creating an environment that a customer interaction is not an additional burden. Through the use of technology all types of information can be shared but great connections and relationships may be enhance through technology but seldom sustained. Live chats, personal connections, and community involvement must be emphasized.

Marketing must also take control of that knowledge transfer moment. Making that moment memorable is equivalent to those cute and clever sound bites. What differs about this type of marketing is this is when the person is most receptive to new ideas. They are the seekers and what they learn at this moment will be remembered and/or put to use.

In an economy where the only certainty is uncertainty, your one source of lasting competitive advantage is knowledge. Yet, few of us understand the true nature of the knowledge-creating company—let alone know how to manage it. According to a article by Japanese organizational theorist Ikujiro Nonaka, the problem is that most Western managers define knowledge—and what companies must do to exploit it—too narrowly. They believe that the only useful knowledge is “hard” (read “quantifiable”) data. And they see the company as a kind of machine for information processing

The challenges facing marketing and organizations in this climate are extraordinary. It is just not enough to start doing it. There must already be a shared vision, a set of guiding principles and culture within the organization that values this type of communication. Lean Companies have the necessary culture to succeed. However, I don’t believe that a company that is just starting a Lean journey is ready. They are still to tool orientated. Lean companies that are well on their way to developing a Lean Culture, 2nd or 3rd stage have the necessary ingredients to begin this journey.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Joseph Dager
Business901 is a firm specializing in bringing the continuous improvement process to the sales and marketing arena. He has authored the books the Lean Marketing House, Marketing with A3 and Marketing with PDCA. The Business901 Blog and Podcast includes many leading edge thinkers and has been featured numerous times for its contributions to the Bloomberg's Business Week Exchange.


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