The loss of knowledge when soldiers leave the Army is one of the primary concerns facing not only the Army, but all branches of service today. Some issues facing the Army today are the tremendous amounts of soldier turnovers due to early separation, retirement, rapid rotations to overseas assignments, transferring to new locations every 12 to 18 months, and the loss of productivity, along with knowledgeable and experienced soldiers due to separation or retirement. When soldiers leave the Army, they take with them a vast amount of knowledge about their jobs and leadership skills as well as lifetime experiences and skills. When this occurs, the military is forced to reinvent the wheel. The military would benefit as a whole if the knowledge was captured and shared more effectively. The goal of knowledge management is to capitalize on the knowledge embedded within an organization and reuse that knowledge to help the organization become more successful. Knowledge management should help organizations accomplish the mission more effectively and efficiently, reduce the amount of time spent looking up information and reduce the cost of training. The old cliché, "work smarter, not harder" is what knowledge management is all about. So what exactly is knowledge management and where did the concept come from?
There is no universal definition to define knowledge management as it can be described many ways. According to Schermerhorn (2006) knowledge management is "the process of utilizing organizational knowledge to achieve competitive advantage" (p. G-9). Knowledge management can also be defined as "a newly emerging, interdisciplinary business model dealing with all aspects of knowledge within the context of the firm, including knowledge creation, codification, sharing, and how these activities promote learning and innovation. In practice, knowledge management encompasses both technological tools and organizational routines in overlapping parts" (Gotcha, 1997). Simply put, knowledge management's ultimate goal is getting the most accurate information, into the hands of the right person, at the right time, for the right reason. Regardless of your definition of knowledge management, it should positively improve the performance of your organization.