The knowledge management by David Drury, Head of HR, IAEA
Knowledge Management can be defined as an integrated, systematic approach to identifying, acquiring, transforming, developing, disseminating, using, sharing, and preserving knowledge, relevant to achieving specified objectives.
Knowledge Management (KM) has been introduced to the nuclear industry as a response to the aging nuclear industry workforce, where the generation that designed, commissioned and initially operated these plants has begun to reach retirement age. KM tools for capture and transfer of knowledge from this aging workforce to its younger replacements have been emphasized.
While KM has certainly been used successfully for this purpose, KM has a larger, on-going application over the life of an NPP and beyond and this requirement is now a key feature of future workforce planning and development criteria for the New Nuclear Build programmes.
Knowledge is often described as either Explicit, Implicit and Tacit categories.
• Explicit Knowledge implies declared knowledge (i.e. knowledge that is conscious to the knowledge bearer). Explicit knowledge is why it is not a problem for the employee to tell about rules and obviously learned facts. Very often this knowledge is already written down in books or detailed in task related and knowledge based training programmes.
• Implicit Knowledge is difficult to reveal, but it is still possible to be recorded. Usually knowledge bearers cannot recall this knowledge by themselves, because the information is too obvious to them. It is generally feasible to convert implicit knowledge into explicit knowledge through documenting it.
• Tacit Knowledge, is the most difficult to recall to transfer. Tacit knowledge is wholly embodied in the individual, rooted in practice and experience, expressed through skilful execution, and transmitted by apprenticeship and training through watching and actively doing forms of learning.
A successful and robust Knowledge Management programme in the nuclear industry should cater for all three categories of knowledge, the programme should focus on people and organizational culture to stimulate and nurture the sharing and use of knowledge, the programme should have sufficient quality processes and methods to find, create, capture and share knowledge; and suitable technology to store and make knowledge accessible to current, remote and future workers.