Tool kits

This section, includes a number of tools to support organizations in understanding ‘how to’ implement specific practices. We present users with practice guides that provide further details and explanations of specific processes and practices related to the self-assessment guide. We have also included a list of useful definitions as well as a list of potential barriers and disincentives to the generation, sharing and use of knowledge. In this section, there is also an extensive bibliography to aid users in finding additional sources related to particular concepts or practices included in this guide.

Practice guides

The following practice guides provide further details of how to implement many of the actions and suggestions in the self-assessment guide.

Capability Area #1 Leadership and Strategy

Practice Guide #1: Strategy Design
Practice Guide #2: Metrics

Capability Area #2 Networks and Communities

Practice Guide #3: Networks and Communities
Practice Guide #4: Community of Practice

Capability Area#3 Experiential Learning

Practice Guide #5: Peer Assist
Practice Guide #6: Informal Action Review
Practice Guide #7: Storytelling and Work with Narrative

Capability Area #4 Knowledge Base

Practice Guide #1: Knowledge Repository


Boundary-Spanning Groups 

In organizations with distinct divisions, boundary-spanning groups can serve to establish links among them. These groups can also be used to build relationships with groups outside the organization. (Source: Levina & Vaast, 2004)

Champions and Change Agents

Champions or change agents are defined as individuals who influence others or work in a direction deemed desirable by the agent, in this context, knowledge management .(Source: Jones et al, 2003)

Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice (CoP) describe a group of people who share an interest, craft, and/or profession. The group can evolve naturally because of the members’ common interest or it can be created specifically with the goal of gaining knowledge related to their field. It is through the process of sharing information and experiences with the group that the members learn from each other and have an opportunity to develop themselves both personally and professionally. These groups commonly renounce the adoption of hierarchical structures, opting instead for a very flexible working arrangement. (Source: Lave & Wenger, 1991)

Comparative Advantage

Originating from the school of economics, a comparative advantage is created when a company or individual is able to produce something at a lower cost than anyone else. (Source: Library of Economics and Literature, n.d.)

Explicit Knowledge

This is concrete knowledge – that is, knowledge that can be easily codified, organized and stored. For example, an evaluation on the Federal government’s employment programs stored on an intranet site is an explicit knowledge asset. A policy or procedure manual is also an explicit knowledge asset.

Expertise Locator

This is a tool that enables people to identify knowledge experts located across the organization. It categorizes knowledge experts according to their area of expertise, interests and a little personal information and sometimes acts as a skills database repository. It is sometimes referred to as the “corporate yellow pages.” The purpose is to connect people to each other. (Source: BC Forest Service, 2005/06)

Human Capital Management

Human Capital Management, also referred to as Talent Management, is the ongoing process that organisations use to recruit appropriately skilled and motivated employees, integrate them into their organisations, develop their competences and retain their commitment. (Source: StepStone, 2010)

Intellectual Capital

Intellectual capital is knowledge that can be leveraged to produce value. It can include the skills and knowledge an organization uses to refine its business cycle or the knowledge and skills employees apply to enhance organizational operations. Irrespective of the source, intellectual capital is critical to a company’s continued success.

Organizational Learning

Organizational Learning is school of thought that examines the various models and theories used to explain the methods by which an organization adapts and learns. (Source: Argyris & Schon, 1978)

Push-Pull Capability

This capability allows organizations to both absorb knowledge from others as well as communicate knowledge out.


Organizational silos are created when units act and think independent of one another. In turn, information sharing is often thwarted, work is commonly duplicated and individual goals are typically advanced over broader, organizational ones. (Source: WikiAnswers, n.d.)

Strategic Asset

A strategic asset is a value-added resource that can be used to inform decision-making. In this context, it is the combination of explicit and tacit knowledge, skills and experience which exist within staff. Strategic assets are often the critical determinants that enable an organization to maintain a sustainable advantage over its competitors. (Source: Othman, n.d.)

Strategic Management of Knowledge

For the purpose of this guide, we have defined the strategic management of knowledge as a systematic approach to maximizing the generation, sharing, and use of knowledge to support organizational learning, resilience and, ultimately, performance.

Such work includes strategies, tools and processes that can be employed to ensure that people are connected, that learning occurs at a team and organizational level, and that appropriate supports – including access to expertise and technology – are in place to enhance decision-making, achieve operational efficiency and effectiveness, and promote innovation.

Strategic Risk Assessment

A strategic risk assessment is one step in the risk management process. The assessment involves assessing and quantifying business risks, then instituting measures to control or reduce them. (Source: Kolakowsi, n.d.)

Tacit Knowledge and 'Know-How' 

Tacit knowledge is more difficult to codify, organize and store than explicit knowledge. Related to tacit knowledge is the concept of “know-how,” this refers to knowledge of the processes and tools required to accomplish something well. Know-how – that is, tacit knowledge – can mean having (Collison and Parcell 2004, pp. 34–35):

  • know-who about networks and relationships in and out of government
  • know-what about content and specialist knowledge
  • know-why about big-picture context, strategy and systems thinking
  • know-where about researching and sleuthing skills
  • know-when about timing of when to take action and when not to, such as deciding to set a project aside  
Web 2.0

Coined in 1999, Web 2.0 is commonly associated with web applications that facilitate interactive information sharing, interoperability and collaboration among web users. This contrasts with non-interactive sites that limit one’s use to passive viewing of information as provided by the host. (Source: Deloitte & Touche, 2008)


A wiki is a website that allows users to add and update content on the site using their own web server. Wikis are created mainly through the collaborative effort of site visitors. The term "wiki" comes from the Hawaiian phrase, "wiki wiki," which means "super fast." This is appropriate because with so many users content is added and shared “super fast”. (Source: TechTerms Computer Dictionary)

Potential barriers and disincentives

Disincentives exist for good reason, but may be enforced too strongly, or the rationale for their existence may be outdated. The following may be disincentives to knowledge generation or sharing.

Potential Barriers and Disincentives Comments

Administrative boundaries within and across ministries.

Isolates pockets of expertise in silos. Increases risks of important knowledge loss when employees leave.

Administrative boundaries
around government.

Limits experience and skill development. Limits capacity building through work with the private sector, not-for-profits, other levels of government including First Nations, other provinces or countries, communities, colleges and universities.


Isolates insights and innovations in different levels of the organization. Connected to styles of formal leaders.

Technological systems

If systems do not connect well, it decreases the likelihood of people communicating and sharing documents electronically.

Technology-related policies & standards

If there are no standards, or people do not follow them, data and information cannot be easily integrated to support decision-making. If employees need to get permission for long-distance calls or cannot use familiar social technologies or media, knowledge sharing will be hampered or will go underground.

Job descriptions and unions

If employees are constrained to work within job descriptions or union levels (self-censorship or others not knowing about their expertise or controls from above) opportunities for innovation and improvement may be lost.

Performance plans ignoring
work with knowledge as an asset

If employees are not rewarded for collaborative, knowledge-sharing behavior and they are rewarded for competitive, knowledge-hoarding behavior, strategies will not translate to improvements.

Performance plans emphasizing
quick decisions and following orders

Knowledge develops through processes such as problem definition and meaningful conversation in no-blame environments. Quick decisions are important for some situations, but quick decisions for the wrong actions implemented in the wrong way or at the wrong time will require extensive repair work.

Punishment or lack of reward

If the employee who sits alone in a cubicle all day is promoted instead of the colleague who enables connections and conversations for better outcomes, word will spread quickly and innovations will decrease.

Lack of policy or information

Even if intentions or strategies are excellent, progress may be stalled through uncertainty. Does a senior manager really want diverse input when she asks for ideas? Can an employee bring ideas from communities of practice in which he participates in the evening as a private individual? Can a manager share lessons learned in a conference discussion?

Limited experience;
unknown unknowns

Does a career natural scientist understand how to work with a policy analyst and vice versa? Does an employee know that he has counterparts with very different job titles in several other ministries? Does an executive know how powerful problem-solving and learning can be across fields disciplines that seem very different?