Creating Value with Knowledge

To create more value for yourself, you need to create knowledge that enlightens you, makes you do tasks more easily and efficiently, makes you feel fulfilled. Some knowledge comes from experience, and sometimes from bad experiences or doing things wrong.

Sharing knowledge (and/or experience) which is meaningful to others creates value for others, and this process creates more value for you.

The process of building knowledge starts with:

Knowing you need knowledge

Seeking knowledge. Having awareness of knowledge around you. For India use its diaspora to get latest information on knowledge

Assimilating knowledge that comes your way

Storing such knowledge

Knowledge development. Raw knowledge may not be useful

Retrieving knowledge and sharing it

Enhancing knowledge.

Understanding and seeking relevant technology and have a process of dissemination and sharing

Knowing and measuring knowledge assets

Protecting knowledge

Teaching people how to use this knowledge.

For successful knowledge management you need people, processes, content and IT, and strategy to have proper knowledge flow. People need to know what is relevant for their needs and be able to access it. In due course, AI may become a useful tool for managing, assimilating, protecting and disseminating knowledge.

But a very important part of seeking knowledge is to understand what your present and future needs are and how to get to them. Getting knowledge which is dated may not be useful. Dated knowledge may give you some satisfaction, but if you want to be at the cutting edge or are an innovator, you need the latest information, and more importantly what will happen in the future. Therefore, you have to be knowledgeable of the future and make future knowledge bets.

My friend, Prof. Youji Kohda, Dean of Knowledge Science, Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology adds “In the age of AI, knowledge has come to be produced from data. This became a new source of knowledge. But the knowledge produced from data represents the needs of the past and may not represent the needs of the present or future.” At the same time, AI may get predictive capabilities.

Lastly, your real competitive advantage apart from how you use the knowledge is how you source it. Chinese are past masters at this. Their diaspora, and their scientists abroad form a long chain of knowledge gatherers. Many maybe unconscious of this.

Early on in my professional career required me to manage collection of data and systems design for which we used mini computers. We chose General Automation (GA) after gathering information because it had the best architecture, and did not buy Data General or Digital Equipment (DEC). Consequently, when we had used GA minis for data gathering and system design, GA went out of business. Much of our knowledge about GA turned out to be useless. Much knowledge we had gained through experimentation and system design was rendered useless. We had to buy DEC and re-start, but could use part of our past knowledge for DEC systems design. We could also avoid certain programming and other pitfalls.

Prof. Youji Kohda comments the lessons from this example could be a lesson related to “knowledge transfer” (from General Automation computer to DEC computer). He adds, “Generally speaking, knowledge transfer is difficult to accomplish but helpful to make things happen.” Knowledge transfer could be one source of competitive advantage.

For many companies, knowledge is a competitive advantage. We once sued a competitor and our former employee who had joined them not to work in competing areas. The competitor’s lawyers insisted we reveal what we thought was proprietary knowledge. The judge demurred. He said the plaintiff (us) does not have to prove they have knowledge to prevent you (the defendant) from using it. He said even knowledge on what not to do was valuable and proprietary. That is to say, when you are developing something (let’s say a product or a device) or doing R&D, you may go down the wrong path which is not usable in the final development of the product or the device. Here your mistakes can save valuable time and money for your competitors if they knew what you learnt not to do.

To protect knowledge and know how, you have to take all possible steps to protect this valuable asset. Then and only then will the law give you protection.

This leads to what Prof Kohda calls knowledge non-transfer, or the knowledge to prevent transfer of knowledge, and keeping a secret a secret! This becomes important in thinking about privacy, data and knowledge protection.

Knowledge is an important part of value creation. It creates value for you. You can create value for others. By sharing your knowledge, you can create value for others or co-create it. Hiding knowledge and keeping it away from others can also destroy value. Overly secretive people are guilty of this.


Gautam Mahajan, President, Customer Value Foundation
Founder Editor, Journal of Creating Value
New Delhi 110065 +91 98100 60368
Twitter @ValueCreationJ
Author of Value Creation, Total Customer Value Management, Customer Value Investment, How Creating Customer Value Makes you a Great Executive, The Value Imperative, Value Dominant Logic
Come to the Third Global Conference on Creating Value, June 2-3, 2020 in Paris France
Join the Creating Value Alliance at

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