Knowledge management

All posts tagged Knowledge management

Collaborative Technology Tools Organizations Utilize

Published May 8, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Galsworth’s (2005) research postulates that more organizations are committed to excellence. They strive to make the workplace safe, simple, more logical, standardized, fluid, linked and more cost effective from continual systematic upgrades.  He identifies this strategy as the “journey to lean.”  It constitutes a voyage of discovery that examines and then eliminates obstacles and barriers that lie in its critical path. In other words it is an excursion where material follows as it travels through the company and advances their value. When an organization takes on the work of a lean conversion, it establishes an environment that needs to change, improve or eliminate just about everything under the roof.  Organizations that choose to go lean do so to dramatically lower costs, simplify the production process, and produce a fundamentally safer environment (Galsworth, 2005).

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Bresciani and Eppler’s (2013) research purports that visualization is a relevant phenomenon that effects knowledge sharing. Their studies conclude that visualization techniques can increase productivity, recall, learning and other important measures (Bresciani & Eppler, 2009). Individuals that grew up as part of the Star Trek generation, for instance, evidence the impact of this visualization phenomenon by the advances in modern technology that were inspired by sci-fi shows like this. Cell phone designs, for example, that flip up were clearly inspired by the communication devices the officers operated on the show. In addition, computer terminals and intelligent systems that use female voice technology to communicate instructions are reminiscent of the of the computer systems from that series. Technological advances like these display the power of visualization that affected young impressionable minds that watched shows like Star Trek and were inspired to pursue a career in science and technology that led to some of these modern advances that most everyone of us now utilize in one form or another in our lives and organizations.

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The effective collaborative technologies some organizations rely on, like ours, support a virtual work space. In this virtual environment they create a comprehensive system that transforms traditional business organizations into cost effective enterprises where outcomes are not just repeatable but are also sustainable. For example, at one previous place of employment, we organized and maintained important client documentation in large filing cabinet systems. These large pieces of furniture occupied extensive office space. In addition, when cabinets became full, old files were removed and shipped to warehouses for storage. Today, the organization has incorporated flash storage devices and thumb drives to replace these archaic filing systems. This collaborative effort eliminated the need for bulking filing cabinets and allows access to documentation and information from remote locations. Significant data that was once stored in warehouses are now easily accessed, managed, shared, and stored quickly on small devices or from online storage facilities for a fee. In addition, email has replaced the traditional method of communication, letter writing, and other forms of correspondence in organizations. Advances in communication systems now allow individuals to work by communication through various portals, from remote regions to transmit larger volumes of information with services like Dropbox, social media networks like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as other systems designed to enhance the communication experience (Drucker & Bruckentstein, 2013). Production and systems can still be managed and operated so long as there is internet access that allows a company to maintain open frequencies. When it comes to what makes a virtual office profitable we have discovered it consists of the same components that makes a large corporation profitable, establishing and applying efficient systems that technology tools offer.

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References:

Bresciani, S., Eppler, M. (Writers), & Frei, G. (Director). (2009). Visualization for knowledge sharing: Experimental evidence [Motion Picture]. Galen University. Retrieved April 23, 2013, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsHlO8UXaLw

Drucker, D., & Bruckentstein, J. (2013). Technology tools for today’s high-margin practice. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Galsworth, G. (2005). Visual workplace visual thinking. Portland, OR: Visual-Lean Enterprise Press

Knowledge Management

Published May 3, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Most experts agree that knowledge management is not utilized to its fullest potential in many organizations.  The ability to respond quickly to changes in the marketplace and recognizing opportunities has become an important competitive advantage.  Hanley’s (2003) research asserts that knowledge management must be considered as a prerequisite, for it has become a significant component and more visible in the balance sheets that reveal the financial worth of organizations.  The asset of knowledge management has the power to deliver organizational success in a variety of ways including: (a) the reduction of cycle time, (b) the improvement of quality, (c) lowered costs, (d) increased organizational learning, and (e) improved core competencies (Haney, 2003).  In other words, knowledge management is important to the success of organizations because acquiring and processing information increases situational understanding, helps to identify and analyze relationships, and enables higher quality decision making.

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Knowledge Management Components

Some organizational leaders believe that a huge investment in information technology will bring about higher quality decisions, only to discover that the delivery and presentation of said technology shows very little improvement in knowledge generation for decision making.  Leaders in this case fail to recognize that factors identified in the decision making process encompass more than the process of base technological usage.  It also includes the following influential components: (a) the organizational culture, (b) the organizational processes, and (c) the compensation and reward systems that have been established in the firm.  Organizations with knowledge exploiting capabilities are known as knowledge intensive firms because they have implemented an organizational system that efficiently manages and uses information effectively to stimulate organizational learning.  For example, one aspect of knowledge management amalgamates organizational information in a manner that produces value by generating new intellectual property (Ward, 2006).  Organizations that do not apply knowledge management strategies can hinder organizational development and productivity.

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Knowledge Management Programs

Effective leaders and management teams comprehend that information increases situational understanding.  Hsieh (2007) postulates that knowledge management in organizations must consider three viewpoints: (a) a business view that focuses on the why, where, and to what extent the company must invest in or exploit information – including which strategies, products and services, alliances, or acquisitions or divestments should be considered from a knowledge based perspective; (b) a managerial view that is centered on determining, organizing, directing, and monitoring knowledge related activities that will help achieve business goals; and (c) a hands-on operational viewpoint that focuses on applying professional skills to manage explicit knowledge-based operation.  Knowledge management programs should include strategies and vehicles to help enable and identify the organizational direction and facilitate effective activities to help achieve those desired outcomes (Hsieh, 2007). The use of technology, organizational systems, and socialization are three examples of how knowledge management programs can be implemented in organizations to foster higher quality decision making that can affect their development and productivity.

Technology – One knowledge management program that leaders employ is the use of technology.  Researchers observe that the three common technologies utilized the most for knowledge management are e-mail, virtual face-to-face conversations, and the use of databases.  These systems can help manage knowledge as both formal and informal processes and exists at all levels: divisional, departmental, team, and individual.  For example, with communication and computer technology, personnel expertise is documented and shared within a company at unprecedented speed and efficiency.

Organizational Systems – Another example of how organizations apply knowledge management consists of the different processes and coordinated systems they execute. For instance various forms, reports, spreadsheets, and other procedures can be used to track activity and progress. This information collection process identifies strengths and weaknesses as well as progress towards outcomes.

Socialization – Finally, one of the most successful knowledge management strategies that organizations employ is social interaction. These face-to-face interactions occur at all levels and in a variety of ways, often intertwined in the production and administrative processes and include: (a) debriefing new members, (b) debriefing returning members, (c) classroom training, (d) luncheons, (e) project team meetings, (f) working with external experts on a project, (g) team conversation, and (h) informal conversations (Haney, 2003). An organization’s climate must include a system that encourages socialization as a means to stimulate staff interaction and knowledge sharing.

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Conclusion

Knowledge management is the key to the survival for any organization.  A collaborative culture that values trust and offers incentives opens opportunities for knowledgeable individuals to share information freely.  Executive leadership that does not implement and support knowledge management systems will most likely experience difficulty governing a productive and efficient organization. Most experts agree that the main constraints to knowledge management are incompetent employers, ineffective strategies, and poorly designed structures.  Organizations that foster a culture which provides support for an effective knowledge management program will experience higher levels of success, growth, and profitability in the marketplace.

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References

Haney, D. (2003). Knowledge management in a professional service firm. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Ann Arbor, IN, USA: ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing. Retrieved April 18, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/305334057?accountid=32521

Hsieh, H.-J. (2007). Organizational characteristics, knowledge management strategy, enablers, and process capability: Knowledge management performance in US software companies. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Ann Arbor, MI, USA. Retrieved April 18, 2012, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/304700978?accountid=3252

Ward, T. (2006). Implementing knowledge management to support effective decision making in a joint military environment: Key enablers and obstacles. Minneapolis, MN, USA: ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing. Retrieved April 18, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/304910517?accountid=32521

Learning Organizations

Published April 19, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Introduction

Garvin postulates that learning organizations are enterprises skilled at creating, acquiring, interpreting, transferring and retaining knowledge; purposefully modifying behavior to reflect the new knowledge. There are six critical activities that must transpire within a learning organization that includes: (1) the collection of data and intelligence, (2) bench-marking or learning from the successful practices of others, (3) learning from past history and experience, (4) experimentation of new ideas, (5) the encouragement of systematic problem solving, and (6) sharing that information throughout the organization. Knowing what to do, doing what we know, and following through are the three key components that affect the learning process. Failure will most likely occur when leaders seek solutions to problems from a very narrow parameter and from one source only. Learning is not a random event; it occurs as a result of pursuing clearly aligned goals (Garvin, 2003). Furthermore, it is difficult to learn effectively from one experience alone. This research examines learning organizations and the significance of components that affect the learning process including: (a) an openness to new perspectives; (b) receiving unfiltered information; (c) the acknowledgement of strengths, weaknesses, and biases; and (d) the ability to perform with a sense of humility.

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Cooperative Education

Organizations that apply specific learning mechanisms allow systematic collection, analysis, storage, dissemination, and the use of information that is applicable to their effectiveness (Lipshitz, Raanan, Popper, Micha, Oz, & Sasson, 1996). In addition, effective learning organizations must remain open to new ideas. Cooperative education focuses on the basic conceptual differences between education and training. In a rapidly changing world however, neither education nor training has the longevity they once enjoyed. Innovation for example, must begin with the recognition that the instructors do not produce learning. Learning is conducted by the learner alone and occurs over a period of time, especially once the student engages actively in the new acquired training. Effective teachers need to become designers of the learning process in participation with the student. To ensure that organizations remain in control of their destiny, each one must develop new approaches, evaluate, educate, and make applicable adjustments in order to creative a cohesive model. Successful learning organizations create clear communication, engage in advanced levels of problem solving, and consist of personnel that are highly motivated, accountable, and work as a cohesive team (Cates, 2009).

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Capitol-EMI Records, my former place of employment, for example, evolved into a cohesive learning organization as a result of the ongoing development from technological upgrades. Management learned to work together as a team in conjunction with the manufacturing plants, corporate offices, and the artists to transit from each model of intellectual property. Initially, the product delivery system for music albums, for instance, was comprised of a porcelain record disc. The next phase of development occurred when the delivery system adapted a more durable vinyl format. Music products continued to evolve with the development of the 8-track system, which was followed by the introduction of a more condensed version in the manufacturing of cassette tapes. The next shift occurred when audio manufacturing transited from an analog system to a digital platform when the compact disc was introduced. Music was now produced from a higher quality audio signal whose digital representation paralleled that of a live concert event. Although compact discs are still available for purchase, the current industry standard allows consumers to download products in an MP3 file format direct to their electronic devices. Capitol-EMI, along with all the other record industry giants learned to evolve and adapted to the changing trends and technologies to contend with the competition, remain profitable, and maintain a share of the marketplace to satisfy consumer appetites.

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Application and Examples

Research conducted by Bersin and Associates (2008) identified 80 organizations that represent best practices in the implementation and execution of the learning process that drives their business. These institutes were chosen because they exceed industry averages and incorporate many best practice mechanisms of organizational learning. Executives provided details for this research on a variety of factors including: (a) the types of learning services implemented; (b) the relationship between HR and corporate learning, (c) the performance management methods adopted, (d) attention to the needs of young workers, (e) the use of advanced technologies, (f) e-learning capabilities, (g) employee career path guidance, (h) global training capabilities, and more. Their research concludes that the organizations developed advanced skills and maturity in strategic planning, learning programs and delivery systems, effective talent management, efficient technology and infrastructure, and valuable performance measurement and analysis (Anonymous, 2008). One of the outstanding learning companies identified in the Bersin research is Home Depot (HD). HD employees take pride that their organization is a people-centered institution. Staffers share the consequences of both successful and failed performances. In addition, HD displays solidarity during challenging times and a keen ability to learn from their hardships. One such example occurred when CEO Robert Nardelli assumed the helm of the organization. Under his militaristic style of leadership, the corporation suffered significant market share loss. The organization discovered that the former GE leader’s tactics which received success in his previous arena, proved ineffective in the HD culture. Nardelli was eventually removed and the HD Board of Directors made effectual changes as a result of that valuable experience.

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Conclusion

Acquiring knowledge from one experience only does not produce strong results, especially in a competitive expanding global marketplace. In addition, learning organizations must remain open to innovative ideas and cultivate a climate that supports team learning in alignment with organizational goals. Organizations that embrace openness to criticism and accept change, where the rate of learning is equal to the rate of change, will have a better chance of longevity. A healthy learning environment encourages good decision making that is derived from wisdom, knowledge, and experience, often as a result of bad decision making. Organizations that can learn from their mistakes and identify opportunities for learning that tend to get lost along the way, will most likely discover and remain on the path of a long and prosperous existence.


References

Anonymous. (2008, August 12). Bersin and Associates names 80 high-impact learning organizations. New York, NY, USA: PR Newswire Association LLC. Retrieved April 3, 2012, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/450191254?accountid=32521

Cates, C. L. (2009, May 17). The creation of a large scale corporate feedback system with a view toward learning organizations and sustainable change in higher education. Cincinnati, OH, USA: ProQuest LLC. Retrieved April 4, 2013

David, G. (Director). (2003). Building a more effective learning organization [Motion Picture].

Lipshitz, Raanan, Popper, Micha, Oz, & Sasson. (1996, September). Building learning organizations: The design and implementation of organizational learning mechanisms. The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. Arlington, VA, USA. Retrieved April 3, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/236344403?accountid=32521

Organizations as Systems

Published April 17, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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As human beings, we spend most of our lives in systems: a family system, a classroom, peer groups, teams, organizations, community, nations, and ethnic groups to name a few. When individuals fail to recognize systems, they tend to fall out of partnership with one another and their surroundings. They are prone to misunderstandings and invent information to explain what they do not know. They create falsehoods and biases. In short, they become separated when they could remain a part of something. People become oppressed when they could live in accord with one another. As a result, most systems, organizations, families, and other groups squander much of their potential. When this occurs without awareness or choice it becomes a blind reflex. Oshry (2007) identifies five types of system blindness: (a) spatial, (b) temporal, (c) relational, (d) process, and (e) uncertainty.  For example, when a person suffers from spatial blindness, they only see part of a system, not the whole. They see what is happening to them, but not necessarily what is occurring elsewhere for instance. They cannot view another’s perspective or comprehend some of the issues they face, the stresses they may feel, nor can they ascertain how their views impact their lives or that of others (Oshry, 2007).

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Espejo and Reyes (2011) research contends there is a distinct difference between what they classify as a black box organization and an operational interpretation of an organizational system. The former is concerned with the transformation of inputs and outputs; the latter centers on the relationships that create a whole entity from a set of various components. The black box description is often formulated from an individual’s concept who is trying to control the situation from the outside. In other words, it is a form of unilateral control.  An operational system on the other hand, is connected to ongoing explanations between components that are determined to achieve stability in their relationships. Control in this model is quite different than that of the unilateral control system of the black box frame. It is attained from communications, accommodation and mutual influence (Espejo & Reyes, 2011). An independent contractor for example, may create their own systems of operation, as well as adhere to the systems and parameters from those that hire their services.

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Garvin (2003) postulates that an effective organization must consist of the following six critical activities for a learning organization to be successful: (1) collect information, (2) learn from the successful experiences (benchmark) of others, (3) learn from past experiences, (4) experiment with new ideas, (5) encourage problem solving, and (6) share knowledge (Garvin, 2003). For many businesses, important information for projects  flows as input and data processing. Once data is received, it is then interpreted and formulated into a new project ascertaining priorities and giving attention to deadlines.  A client that conducts a monthly Lunch-n-Learn presentation, for example, to recruit and motivate new clients, would require systems in place to manage the event. Once the data is received regarding an upcoming event, the information is processed and transformed into intellectual properties in the form of invitations, a press release, and creative marketing to support the event. Next, reports are organized from the feedback of potential participants. Once the presentation is completed, follow up systems are implemented to keep connected with participants, including appreciation forms of communication like thank you cards. Feedback for self-assessment is also important. It helps make the next presentation more effective. With having systems in place, including the organization of client information, leaders can evaluate and learn from their mistakes by observing what works and what does not. These systems serve as a tool that help people learn and work better together, as well as serve others more efficiently. Acknowledging mistakes, keeping open communication, listening to feedback, and engaging in active action reviews, are some of the systems organizations have implemented to make their working relationships more effective.

References:

Espejo, R., & Reyes, A. (2011). Organizational systems: Managing complexity with the viable system model. New York, NY: SPi Publisher Services.

Building a more effective learning organizztion (2003). [Motion Picture]. Retrieved April 2, 2013, from http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=hXwBw2EZKHE#!

Oshry, B. (2007). Seeing systems: Unlocking the mysteries of organizational life. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Virtual Organizations

Published December 28, 2012 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Technology and globalization play an increasingly important role in the evolution of today’s business environment. Although office face-time played a critical role in corporate settings in the past, the once-rigid boundaries of geography, time and even organizations are now quickly vanishing as members of almost any workplace team are communicating and collaborating regardless of physical location (Duarte & Snyder, 2006). For example, teams that are geographically dispersed rely on technology-mediated communication to accomplish tasks and the degree of virtuality can vary from slight to extreme. Teams that conduct their work through the following three technological devices: (a) email, (b) text messages, and (c) teleconferences never meeting face-to-face, are considered more virtual than a team that meets monthly in person. Teams that span multiple time zones and continents are more virtual than one whose members are located within the same city (Gibson, et al., 2003). These new components in the virtual work environment add complexities that require the development of new managerial skills.

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Virtual teams (VT) work across time, space and organizational boundaries with links strengthened by webs of communication technologies. VT are useful because they can be rapidly brought together to realize a business objective within limited time and resources. VT services are becoming more important today as a result of variety in their underlying business process models (Fong, 2005). Virtual enterprises (VE) share data, information as files, directories, internet bookmarks, databases and more sophisticated tools of knowledge management or a combination of all.

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Organizations that do not utilize virtual team technology may effectively be fighting an uphill battle in global competition in a swiftly changing environment. Institutions will find success in today’s business environment by finding new ways of working across boundaries through systems, processes, technology, and people. VE make technology a valued partner by developing and distributing competitive solutions (Duarte & Snyder, 2006). People working on virtual teams need special skills which include: (a) comprehending human dynamic and performance without the benefit of normal social cues, (b) knowledge of how to manage across functional areas and national cultures, (c) skill in managing their careers and others without the advantage of face-to-face interaction, and (d) the ability to use leverage and electronic communication technology as their primary means of collaboration and communication.

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The technology to enable VE is here. The acceptance of it depends on the willingness of the individuals and organizations to understand the concept and transition in this new approach to organizational management. Coordinating systems that address work practices, management oversight, organizational and cultural influences, are key components in building strategic alliances that will contribute to a company’s growth and success within the virtual organization environment.

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References:

Duarte, D., & Snyder, N. T. (2006). Mastering virtual teams (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Fong, M. (2005). E-Collaborations and virtual organizations. Hershey PA: IRM Press.

Gibson, C., Cohen, S., Alcordo, T., Athanassiou, N., Baba, M., Blackburn, R., . . . Tyran, C. (2003). Teams that work (1st ed.). (C. Gibson, & S. Cohen, Eds.) San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.