The asset called knowledge


ON MY WAY home the other day, I stopped at Lobels outlet to buy bread. I did not think much about the bread until I got home and found that there was more bread than was needed.

I thought back to the days when I grew up and just marvelled at the thought that bread used to taste so nice then, there was normally no left over bread by the evening at our house. I personally ate so much bread my mother would often comment that my appetite was like that of a boy.

Bread really tasted very good. I cannot say the same for bread today.

I am also very certain that it is not because my tastebuds have changed, but I think it is because of the knowledge gap that has arisen in the industry.

Back then when I worked at the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI), the National Bakers’ Association was one of the business associations in my portfolio.

During the first days that I managed this association I was so much in awe of how a group of men, who were high ranking in their organisations, normally the managing director and financial directors would sit at a boardroom and discuss bread in such detail.

In no time I understood. Bread was the highest contributor to their balance sheets.

By the end of my stay at the CZI I had learnt that bread was so important it could even cause strikes and become political.

I had learnt that a loaf of bread had to weigh 700gs for it to be called a standard loaf and that packaging was an important aspect in the presentation of the bread.

I also learnt that it was a requirement that the ingredients, nutritional information and recommended daily allowance of each nutrient should be clearly printed on the bread packet.

I also know that because of the wheat shortages and subsequently the flour shortages some bakeries cut corners in their bread-making business.

I also know that things have changed and the ingredients are now readily available, but somehow bread still does not taste as good as it used to.

This brings me to the point of this article today, the knowledge asset : It is my take that some of this knowledge on bread is tacit knowledge.

In instance where management employees have left, the knowledge also left with them, the value of knowledge as a component of human is in fact, a tangible corporate asset that business should document and keep well.

Qualitative and quantitative management of information is essential if any business is to outlive its employees. Knowledge is a business’ competitive edge.

While in financial measurement and valuation model an asset is a tangible object which through appreciation or depreciation accrues value to the corporation.

A patent or copyright is normally recorded and considered intellectual capital.

This in my opinion does not do justice to the actual knowledge of the business. Knowledge is the primafacie of the competitive edge of the company.

While I chose to talk about bread today, it follows for any product really.

A person who has used and worked with and on a particular machine for years will know it better than someone who has perhaps read about the machine .

I therefore call upon all the bakers of old, Spiro Tselentis, Mark Priar, Langton Chivasa, Burombo Mudume, Mike Nellerman, to perhaps take time to record their vast knowledge in the baking of bread. I would really love to eat a loaf that tastes like it used to taste; like when I was growing up.

I also challenge the accountants to record the knowledge asset in the statement of final accounts.

It is something that businesses have taken for granted for a long time. Knowledge recorded in a personal journal is only as useful as that particular individual remains in the company, yet knowledge is worth every dime in the organisation.

Till next week, keep reading the red publication and remain Brand Savvy!