Strategy, Structure and Culture that promote
Knowledge Management


By

Mrs. R. Manju Shree
Faculty
Mrs. E. Jeevitha
Faculty
Department of Management Studies and Research
Tamilnadu College of Engineering
Coimbatore
 


Introduction:

Knowledge management is the explicit and systematic management of vital knowledge and its associated and its associated processes of creating, gathering, organizing, diffusion, use and exploitation. It requires tuning personal knowledge into corporate knowledge than can be widely shared throughout an organization and appropriately applied.

Knowledge management programmes typically have one or more of the following activities:

* Appointments of knowledge leader-to promote the agenda, develop a framework.
* Creation of knowledge teams-people from all disciplines to develop the methods and skills.
* Development of knowledge bases- best practices, expertise directories, market intelligence etc.
* Enterprise intranet portal-a 'one-stop-shop' that gives access to explicit knowledge flow.
* Knowledge sharing mechanisms-such as facilitated events that encourage greater sharing of knowledge than would normally take place.
* Intellectual asset management-methods to identify and account for intellectual capital.

Knowledge management strategy:

Knowledge strategy designs an organization's future based on using Knowledge effectively. Knowledge strategy starts with the notion that an organization's business strategy should guide its planning for Knowledge management.

The Knowledge management strategy must be an integral part of the overall enterprise or business strategy. It must support the thrust of the organization and match its management philosophy capabilities (particularly, knowledge professional expertise, availability, and infrastructure) and the knowledge related SWOT.

Knowledge management strategy has suggested a four-phased approach

* Envisioning business strategy: Identifying and developing business strategy and linking initial knowledge needs to the strategy. This phase uses strategy workshops, SWOT analyses and scenario planning sessions to develop the initial strategy.

* Knowledge valuation: Analyzing the current state of the organization, diagnosing cultural issues. This phase delivers an organizational assessment and gap analysis.

* Creating Knowledge management strategy: This phase analyses impacts and develops strategies for addressing gaps and redesigning processes. Strategic gaps are prioritized action plan developed and resources and practices are aligned to the strategy.

* Knowledge path building: This phase establishes plans and designs for building knowledge architecture to support full organizational participation. This phase coordinate plans, people and information resources to integrate the knowledge strategy into organizations, systems, product lines and business process.

A knowledge management strategy must address the real needs and issues:

Call centers

Call centers have increasingly become the main 'public face' for many organizations. This role is made more challenging by the expectations of customers that they can get the answers they need within minutes of ringing up.

Other challenges confront call centers, including

* High-pressure, closely-monitored environment
* High staff turnover
* Costly and length training for new staff

In this environment, the need for knowledge management is clear and immediate. Failure to address these issues impacts upon sales, public reputation or legal exposure.

Front-line staff

Beyond the centre, many organizations have a wide range of front-line staff who interact with customers or members of the public.

They may operate in the field, such as sales staff or maintenance crews; or be located at branches or front-desks.

In large organization, this front-line staffs are often very dispersed geographically, with limited communication channels to head office. Typically, there are also few mechanisms for sharing information between staff working in the same business area but different locations.

The challenge in the front-line environment is to ensure consistency, accuracy and repeatability.

Business managers

The volume of information available to business management has increased greatly. Know as 'information overload' or 'info-glut', the challenge is now to filter out the key information needed to support business decisions.

The pace of organizational change is also increasing, as are the demands on the 'people skills' of management staff.

In this environment, there is need for sound decision making. These decisions are enabled by accurate, complete and relevant information.

Knowledge management can play a key role in supporting the information needs of management staff. It can also assist with the mentoring and coaching skills needed by modern managers.

Developing knowledge management strategy:

Top-down:

The overall strategic direction of the organization is used to identify the focus of the knowledge management initiatives. This is reflected in a series of activities designed to meet this broad goal.

Bottom-up

Research is conducted into the activities of staff involved in key business processes. The findings of this research highlights key staff needs and issues, which are then, tackled through a range of knowledge management initiatives.

Each of these approaches has its strengths, and in practice, a success KM programme must encompass both.

This article presents a model that focuses strongly on the needs analysis activities with staff, to drive a primarily bottom-up strategy, as follows:

* Identify the key staff groups within the organization. These groups deliver the greatest business value, or are involved in the most important business activities.

* Conduct comprehensive and holistic needs analysis activities with selected staff groups, to identify key needs and issues.

* Supplement this research with input from senior management and organizational strategy documents, to determine an overall strategic focus.

* Based on these findings, develop recommendations for addressing the issues and needs identified.

* Implement a series of strategic and tactical initiatives, based on the recommendations. These will select suitable knowledge management techniques and approaches.

Knowledge management structure:

To propose and evaluate a novel management structure that encourages knowledge sharing across an organization.

The extant literature on the impact of organizational culture and its link to management structure is examined and used to develop a new knowledge sharing management structure. Roadblocks to implementing a new management structure and methods for overcoming these impediments are discussed. The efficacy of the proposed management structure is evaluated empirically by examining its effect on organizations that have implemented portions of the proposed structure.

Findings - The foundational ideas behind the proposed knowledge management organizational structure and the structure itself have been implemented in parts at various organizations located both in the USA and internationally.

While the full management structure model has not been evaluated, the portions implemented in various organizations have enabled these organizations to assume leading roles in their respective industries.

Knowledge management Infrastructure:

Organization culture:

* Understanding of the value of km practices
* Mgt support for KM at all levels
* Incentives that reward knowledge sharing
* Encouragement of interaction for the creation and sharing of knowledge

Organization structure:

* Hierarchical structure of the organization(decentralization, matrix structure, emphasis on "leadership" rather than "mgt")
* Specialized structures and roles(chief knowledge officer,KM department, traditional KM units)

Information   Technology

Infrastructure:

* Reach
* Depth
* Richness
* Aggregation

Common knowledge:

* Common language and vocabulary
* Recognition of individual knowledge domains
* Share norms
* Elements of specialization knowledge that are common across

Knowledge culture:

It is widely acknowledged that the biggest hurdle of establish a long term

Knowledge management practice in any organization is culture. So what is culture? Well in an organization it's a set of unwritten rules, expectations and social customs that complete behaviors.

Creating a culture where knowledge is valued and shared effectively is one of the most difficult challenges faced in practice.

The biggest challenge reported by practitioners is that of changing a prevailing culture from" Knowledge is power" to "Knowledge sharing is power". Such can be changed, over time, in a variety of ways. These may include:

* Workplace setting;
* Management style and objective setting approaches;
* Education, personal and team development;
* Measurement and reward systems; and
* Leadership-developing trust and mutual respect.

Culturals issues concerning Knowledge management initiatives generally arise due to the following:

Lack of time:

The whole aim of the KM initiative is to increase the employees productivity by making their job easier, not barbering them with additional tasks. When KM adds to the average employee's workload it automatically calls into question the so called benefits of the system. It's like putting a bullet in your leg before you start running a marathon.

Lack of common perspective:

Unlike most other processes in organization that are mandated, knowledge management cannot be forced down end users throats. There has to be a collective buy-in and belief that his system will make things better. This buy-in has to be at the grass-roots level as well, as a large percentage of corporate knowledge does float around at the lower rungs of an organization.

Unconnected reward system:

In KM the carrot method will only go so far, for long term sustainability of any initiative there has to be a takeaway at the end of the day. If your meetings, or information sharing sessions aren't perceived as having value providing incentives will not sustain its growth. People share information because they like watching their information and knowledge being used successfully and the attention and admiration they get from their peers.

No formal communication:

Let your people know what is happening, make sure everyone is up to speed on what the initiative is, why it is required and how it will help them. Constant communication with your employees is one of the biggest issues faced with rolling out km initiatives. If done properly it creates an excellent mechanism to gauge reactions to the initiative and in cases improve on it.

Conclusion:

Knowledge management is to provide the right knowledge at the right time to the right person. Knowledge management is necessary for leveraging of knowledge.
 


Mrs. R. Manju Shree
Faculty
Mrs. E. Jeevitha
Faculty
Department of Management Studies and Research
Tamilnadu College of Engineering
Coimbatore
 

Source: E-mail April 22, 2009

          

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