Bringing Design Thinking to Knowledge Management

Bringing Design Thinking to Knowledge Management

A Case Study on User-Centricity in the Creation of a Knowledge Management Platform

This whitepaper explores the combination of knowledge management and Design Thinking to create a user-centric knowledge management platform. It highlights the importance of user acceptance and focuses on integrating the perspectives of employees. The thesis emphasizes the need for a knowledge database that is easily accessible and up-to-date, and discusses the advantages of implementing a customized knowledge platform in organizations. The goal is to enhance information flow, provide a database for information, and promote collaboration among users. In an embedded case study at the example of Ironforge Consulting AG the Design Thinking process was applied and the results critically analyzed.

The topic of an effective knowledge management in a business is highly relevant for practitioners as it addresses the strategic importance of knowledge management and the role of user-centricity in developing effective knowledge management platforms. In today's hyper-competitive environments, organizations recognize the value of knowledge as a source of competitive advantage. By integrating Design Thinking principles, practitioners can create knowledge management platforms that align with the specific needs and preferences of users. This user-centric approach enhances user acceptance and utilization, leading to improved information flow, better collaboration, and efficient retrieval of valuable knowledge resources. Understanding the significance of user perspectives and employing Design Thinking methodology can help practitioners maximize the benefits of knowledge management platforms, ultimately contributing to organizational success and sustainable competitive advantage.

The results of the Master Thesis indicate that there is a need for a centralized knowledge platform and improved internal communication at Ironforge Consulting AG. The current communication methods and tools used by employees were identified, along with their advantages and disadvantages. Based on the findings, a target solution was proposed, utilizing a combination of MS Teams and SharePoint to enable knowledge creation, transfer, use, and maintenance. A prototype of a central SharePoint page and topic-specific sub-pages was designed to facilitate internal knowledge sharing. Feedback from a workshop was gathered for future refinement of the prototype. The thesis discusses user-centric design requirements and suggests the use of personas, workshops, and a multidisciplinary approach to foster user-centricity in designing the knowledge platform.

Implications for practitioners
The implications for practitioners include:

  1. Establish a central knowledge platform: Develop a centralized knowledge sharing platform, such as SharePoint, combined with MS Teams, to facilitate knowledge exchange, collaboration, and information storage. Ensure the platform is structured, user-friendly and meets the diverse requirements of employees .
  2. Encourage user-centric design: Embrace user-centric design methodologies, such as personas and workshops, to prioritize user needs throughout the design process. Involve employees from different disciplines and hierarchies and seek their feedback and suggestions to create superior products and solutions.
  3. Allocate resources for platform development: Building and maintaining an effective knowledge platform requires sufficient resources. Allocate the necessary time, effort, and personnel to develop, implement, and improve the platform continuously. Consider the effort involved in creating topic-specific sub-sites, ensuring data quality, and updating content regularly.
  4. Conduct workshops for user engagement: Organize workshops or kickoff sessions to introduce employees to the new knowledge platform and demonstrate its benefits. Encourage active participation, gather feedback, and foster collaborative discussions to design a future environment that meets the needs of all stakeholders.

The Master Thesis utilizes a systematic approach to investigate two research questions. The first question explores the design of a user-centric knowledge platform through a literature review, analyzing various sources and evaluating their quality. The second question examines the feasibility of implementing a knowledge platform using Design Thinking methodology. A case study at Ironforge Consulting AG is conducted, applying the five phases of the Design Thinking process to develop a prototype. In-depth interviews are conducted to understand user needs and provide valuable insights. The findings contribute to the understanding of Design Thinking and its application in designing a knowledge platform. The thesis concludes with a workshop to discuss the proposed solution and suggest next steps for implementation. The methodology involves literature review, qualitative analysis, and the application of Design Thinking principles to develop a user-centric knowledge platform and concept of knowledge management.