Purpose – This paper proposes that knowledge management is a system that integrates people, process and technology for sustainable results by increasing performance through learning. Definitions of knowledge, knowledge management and performance serve as a foundation. Design/methodology/approach – The model for the knowledge era proposed in this paper is that sustained results require learning to be integrated in every activity, and that event‐based training does not, by definition, result in integrated learning. As an equation, it is a multiplicative function: Results = Performance × Learning. In this model, if learning is eliminated over time, results will become zero. Alternatively, if direct effort is put into creating conditions for learning, results can increase exponentially, creating competitive advantage. Findings – The paper concludes that knowledge management is not done. It proposes that for sustainable performance it is not sufficient to measure economic results. Performance seen through the lens of the triple bottom line (profit, people, and planet) will require significant investment in learning to create intellectual capital. Originality/value – Theory is demonstrated in practice, describing a successful large‐scale/ high‐impact change initiative at Unilever that did contribute to Unilever's goals and results.
The Learning Organization – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 1, 2005
Keywords: Knowledge management; Learning organizations; Performance management
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