Knowledge management is touted as a new discipline. It might be new in making it formal and allowing it to be studied like any other disciplines. But in terms of existence and practice, it is as old as man. Man has been managing knowledge from time immemorial, long before the advent of writing.
In ancient times, especially in African setting, knowledge was managed in various ways,like: apprenticeship; story telling, riddles, parables and sayings; dances and festivities; major natural catastrophes; rite of passage- birth, circumcision, marriage and death; and such like.
In the African society old people were venerated and held in great esteem.They were knowledge warehouse of their respective communities. By word of mouth they passed on their wisdom to their progeny. This way the community knowledge was preserved and shared.
It is sad to note this ancient and time tested method of knowledge management has be neglected with disastrous results. Many mistakes made in organizations and societies in general could have been avoided, if the elderly and experienced member(s) of the organization or society had been consulted.
The essences of knowledge management is sharing of knowledge to prevent re-inventing the wheel, and at the same time to aid in innovation.You can only give what you have. Knowledge is personal and is mostly acquired through experiences. Therefore a person who has been with an organization for a long time or a person who has been a member of a community for a longer time, he/she is more knowledgeable on going-on of the organization or society. For example The Toyota car manufacturer is experiencing problems with its new cars, and several recalls of new cars have been made. They have been problems with the breaking systems and exhaust. These problems were attributed to the fact that a large number of the workforce has attained the retiring age, and consequently, going home with their accumulated knowledge in their areas of expertise leaving the new cropper of workers to learn the hard way, learning from mistakes. An expensive and risk way of learning!
Organizations should therefore encourage their experienced workers to share their experiences with younger workers. This can be done through story telling,apprenticeship, coaching,and mentoring.