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Knowledge or Information Management: What Comes First?

During "office hours" when there are no changes in your organization, the relevance of knowledge management is minimal. Imagine that your business is involved in selling bikes and this business is prosperous. But than, all of a sudden there is a fall in demand. You verify with the suppliers of the motors and indeed in other areas the demand declines. You are just selling them, and you need to decide what to do.

You need information to understand the cause of the decline in demand. After you have done this, you will find out -- in this case -- that because of the increase of the oil-price, the demand for bicycles has been increasing other the last months. This explains the decline in your sales.

Because of the same information you may also decide to step into the bicycle business. This should solve your problem you think and it will, although the competition is fierce. But thatís not the point. The point is -- knowledge management. What do you need to know to manage your business? Again you need to gather a lot of information about this new market, about the potential clients, information about buying bicycles from the various (new) suppliers. It is all what you should be able to manage. Information management.

Yet, your business will not automatically take of in this new setting. You need experience. "How is the bicycle selling process different?" How do you buy bicycles, from what kind of suppliers, how do you know about quality. A lot of issues that you could translate from the other business. Yet there are also many elements you will not know about (in advance). You have to experience them, these can not be planned, because you do not know them. And in this case your business has made no real transformation. The profile is very much the same. From selling bikes to bicycles. Knowledge management would really be an issue if you switch from selling bikes to trading stocks.

A way to handle this knowledge problem is to contract someone who is experienced in -- who knows about -- selling bicycles. This is a common solution.

Information management makes you decide to get into this new business. Knowledge management will determine whether you survive in this business you do not know.

© 2006 Hans Bool

Hans Bool is the founder of Astor White a traditional management consulting company that offers online management tools. Have a look at some of our free management tools