It was five years ago when I first came across the term "Knowledge Management." I was halfway through my Engineering Management Masters degree when we had a professor come over from George Washington University to teach us a course in Knowledge Management.
We were mystified. What was Knowledge Management (KM)? How could one manage something intangible as knowledge? You could manage people, projects, data, or organizations. But, to manage knowledge was a new concept and something that all of us in the program had not come across until then.
It turned out that even when I started talking about it outside the classroom amongst family and friends, they also had no clue about the term in hand and were curious to know what it was all about.
That was the point that made me pursue the matter further and take the subject as my graduation project to work on and find out if organizations in Bahrain knew about it or were using it to manage the knowledge in their institutions.
Since oil and gas-related industries are the main sources of revenue in Bahrain, I found it beneficial to contribute to the research and academic field by investigating the role of KM in this kind of industries. Therefore, I chose a successful organization that used natural gas to produce their end products and to conduct my study on their team to find out the extent of their knowledge and use of the tool in the day to day running of their business.
To cut the story short, it turned out that the company was using many tools of KM, but most of the team had no clue about the new management field or that they were practicing it in-house.
Five years have passed. Still, organizations in Bahrain are not using this management tool that has been proven successful in the western countries for over than two decades. Institutions such as NASA, Toyota, Google, and IBM are just a few of the success stories in using KM to advance and keep their companies ahead of their competitors in the market.
We are living in a time when environments are ever-evolving. New technologies and new ways of doing business are introduced in an exhilarating pace. For establishments to thrive, compete, and operate, developing knowledge in their organizations cannot be left to chance.
Everything is about knowledge today. Knowledge Management, Knowledge Worker, Knowledge Industries, and Knowledge Economy are to name but a few of these terms commonly used.
Europe 2020 set out a new vision of Europe's social market economy for the 21st century. One of the priorities it put forward was the promotion of smart growth, which is, developing an economy based on knowledge and innovation. Such smart growth requires among others things the promoting of innovation and knowledge transfer, making full use of information and communication technologies and ensuring that innovative ideas can be turned into new products and services (European Commission, 2010).
The Economic Vision 2030 for Bahrain states "We aspire to shift from an economy built on oil wealth to a productive, globally competitive economy, shaped by the government and driven by a pioneering private sector – an economy that raises a broad middle class of Bahrainis who enjoy good living standards through increased productivity and high-wage jobs" (EDB, 2008).
We are only 12 years shy of meeting our 2030 vision. Knowledge Economy, Innovation, and Smart Cities are nothing but popular buzzwords thrown in every forum and conference held almost weekly in many sectors in the kingdom nowadays. What are we as individuals actively doing to meet the challenges associated with building a Knowledge Economy in our country?
As a personal venture, I am currently researching on how to build a collaboration between the government and the private sector in Bahrain to help push the innovation process forward. Also, I have decided to take up the task of blogging a topic once a week to simplify as much as possible what the buzzwords mentioned above are or give an update about what others are doing in those areas globally.
Hopefully, these blogs will start a network of interested entities who would pitch in their ideas or thoughts to aid and assist the government meet its 2030 vision.