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Understanding ISO 9001:2015

Clause 7.1.6 - Organizational Knowledge

7.1.6    Organizational knowledge (OK) 

OK has been recognized as a vital business asset. It is specific to each organization and can be used as a powerful tool to gain competitive advantage. Many organizations now identify, capture, internalize and leverage relevant OK as an important business strategy. The many ways OK can be used to add value to an organization include: 

·      Improving products, services and QMS processes. 

·     Improving employee training and performance. 

·      Reducing business and QMS risks. 

·     Making more informed decisions about courses of action.  

·     Anticipating, understanding and adapting to trends and changes in its business environment.   

·     Exploiting existing and acquired knowledge assets.  

·     Developing new opportunities. 

·     Leveraging OK to gain competitive advantage. 

·    Promoting a learning environment to further stimulate creation of new knowledge.  

Your organization must determine and manage the OK necessary for the operation of QMS processes and to achieve conformity of product and services. 

Requirements regarding OK were introduced for the purpose of:  

·   Safeguarding the organizational knowledge from loss of knowledge, e.g. 

·    Through staff turnover; 

·    Failure to capture and share information; 

·    Loss or theft by personnel or outsiders. 

·   Encouraging the organization to acquire knowledge, e.g. 

·    Learning from experience; 

·    Mentoring; 

·    Benchmarking; 

·    Building relationships with relevant interested parties.         

OK is generally of two types;  

·     Explicit  knowledge – that which can be written down, transferred, and shared. It is definable and can be protected by the legal system; 

·     Tacit knowledge – is know-how that is usually hard to describe. It can be demonstrated but difficult to document as it resides in the minds of employees. It become evident through performance and on-the-job training.

What is organizational knowledge (OK)? 

It can be defined as information combined with experience, context, interpretation, and insight that is useful in making decisions and taking action specific to your organization and QMS. Such information includes: 

·     Specific technical and procedural information required to produce conforming products and services and for controlling QMS processes needed to produce them. These may include product and service specifications, drawings, process flow diagrams, product and process steps, criteria, work instructions, or verbal instructions, etc. 

 

·     Novel, unique, highly creative and innovative ways of doing things that are formally encoded in business processes, practices, methods, etc. 

·    Lessons learned from past failures, near miss situations and successes, 

·    Capturing undocumented knowledge (explicit and tacit) and experience that resides within the minds of employees and employee groups, 

·     Developed or acquired knowledge - patents, practices, technologies, research & development,

·     The results of research and improvement projects for products, services, processes and business practices,

·     Knowledge of markets, competitors, customers, suppliersand interested parties, e tc,  

·      Knowledge acquired through consultants, conferences, universities, research institutes, etc, on best practices or to resolve specific business and QMS problems, 

This article is an extract from my eCourse “Understanding ISO 9001:2015”. The rest of the discussion on organizational knowledge in my eBook focuses on the specific actions that your organization must take to address this requirement

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