Learning and knowledge capturing as a purposeful act was described in Part I Chapter 5 in the context of EEMS and the establishment of best operational practice through continuous performance improvement. The process was inward looking and focused on the company's operations. That is the main difference between that kind of learning and learning in the context of strategic management, where it should be outward looking and focused on the company's external environment.
This process starts with an awareness of the limits of the company's existing knowledge, of what we do already know and what we do not know. Discovering new knowledge that is relevant and important to the business is a process of purposeful exploration of how the changes in the company's environment may impact upon its business performance.
Again, a simple and an effective tool is a question! While interpreting performance data the main question was: 'Why?; but in this context it should be 'What if?'. Such a question triggers exploration of the possible outcomes of changes that may emerge and shape the process of strategic thinking. Exploring emerging changes in the external environment brings discoveries of patterns, develops an understanding of the cause-consequence relationship, and ultimately generates knowledge of how to enhance the capabilities and improve the competencies of the business and how to harness new opportunities and provide increased value for the customers.
The whole purpose of this process is to identify early fundamental changes in the external business environment and to search for effective responses to these changes. Management must react to external threats, no matter what the cause, in a timely manner and for that they must have the correct and timely information. The discovery of knowledge process provides useful information for timely decision making.
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