- What is knowledge management and why is it important?
There is no proper definition about knowledge management; however it can be defined as an approach that is used by the organizations to achieve their objectives with the best utilization of knowledge (Levinson). It is basically a concept in which the enterprise focuses on gathering, organizing, sharing and analyzing its knowledge in different forms like documents, resources and its skilled people. Most of the organizations generate values from its knowledge and intellectual assets. The generation of values involves codifying what the employees and customers know. Moreover, the same information is shared among the enterprise to share knowledge so as to device new knowledge management practices. In knowledge management, the main goal is to push information to people and that involves some processes like data mining.
There are a few components of knowledge management that are used by the organizations and enterprises. It is used to generate new knowledge for organizations. Moreover, the knowledge that is accessible from outside sources is also utilized in decision making (Rouse, 2013). The knowledge gained from inside or outside resources is embedded with the products and the processes in organizations. Knowledge gained in one part of the organization must be shared with other parts of the organization. Knowledge management system is important for managers as it helps them in locating the specific knowledge required for specific business processes.
Knowledge management is important for organizations in a number of ways. Most of the
Businessmen and economists have declared it as the biggest advantage to the modern firms (Levinson). It helps in utilizing the knowledge of the firm and taking further decisions. It is helpful in accelerating the speed of change in organizations. Global interaction of the organization with other organizations has also increased with the help of knowledge management. The intensity of knowledge goods is also increased.
Here are few examples of usage of knowledge management in different organizations. An organization that has a database for getting feedback from its employees and its customer benefits from it by gathering knowledge from them. In this way, every customer and employees of the organization will provide its feedback and that information will be shared with other departments like research and development department.
In the same way, if a team is working on a project, all the work of employees will be uploaded on a shared platform. That information will be accessed by every team member who can get knowledge and appreciate other works as well.
- Discuss the information continuum (data, information, knowledge) and its design and management implications.
The continuum is a set of elements that are not different from each other however they are different in order of their extremes and their values. The sequence in which data leads to knowledge is called the information continuum (All KM). There are basic three components of a knowledge continuum that are data, information and knowledge. All of these are discrete elements of the information continuum however the transformation between them is not a discrete process. In information continuum everything is related to each other. For making progress in this continuum it is important to have an understanding of the earlier component. For example, starting from the data, the understanding is mandatory before moving towards the information stage. In the same way, for moving towards knowledge, understanding of information is necessary.
Data is collection of some discrete facts or objects that can be used to deduce some information from it. Normally it does not have any relevance to time or date, it can be said the collection of some facts or the results of some processes is called data. It is normally referred to as unprocessed information (Info Engineering). The discrete values out of context are called data. Only data does not provide any meaningful information that can be used for some decision making. On the other hand, the processed data is called information. The data available can be utilized to draw some conclusion from it, the conclusion is called information. If data does not provide us a conclusion then it is not considered to be useful information. Information is next step for data. Once the information is extracted, the next stage is knowledge ‘K’. Knowledge is gathered when experience or judgment is applied to the extracted information (Ritholtz, B. 2010). It is the result of learning. In simpler words it can be said that knowledge is basically the internationalization of data, information and experience.
In an organization, the data is mostly gathered from routine tasks. That data is stored in the database. Later on, that data is used to extract some useful information from it. Once the information is gathered from it, the experiences and judgments are applied to the information which leads to the creation of knowledge.
Discuss and elaborate on tacit and explicit knowledge – their respective character, how they interact, and their management implications
There are two kinds of knowledge, one is tacit knowledge and the other one is explicit knowledge. In the human mind, there are a number of things that we cannot say. Moreover, there are many things in our mind that we cannot describe. It is very hard to express tacit knowledge. It is very personal knowledge and very hard to express or communicate it with others. In most of the cases it is almost impossible to capture the tacit knowledge (Bellinger, 2004). There have been many attempts in identifying the elements of tacit knowledge that can be easily captured and documented. However, it is almost impossible to capture the tacit knowledge. So the other goal about tacit knowledge is to connect the one who possess the tacit knowledge to the one who is looking for tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is composed of different elements like perceptions, personal experiences, aptitudes or insights that cannot actually be expressed by someone. Its existence is only within mind and cannot be captured or recorded in digital world.
Explicit knowledge is formal and it can be documented easily. It is very easy to share explicit knowledge and communicate with others. It is very easy to store the explicit knowledge so that it can be shared with others. It can be easily demonstrated to other with use of different media. This knowledge can be digitally stored and manipulated. The continuum value of knowledge management is possible with the conversion of data into information and information into knowledge of explicit knowledge. On the other hand, it is not possible to derive value continuum with tacit knowledge.
Tacit and explicit knowledge work with each other and there are times when tacit knowledge is converted into explicit knowledge as well. However, it is not possible that all of the tacit knowledge is converted into explicit knowledge. There are four types in which tacit and explicit knowledge interact with each other.
In tacit-to-tacit knowledge, the information is exchanged between the one who possess the tacit knowledge and the one who is looking for tacit information. This information is exchanged between them informally. It is like computer programmers meeting in a place and they share different ideas and information.
In tacit-to-explicit, some of the tacit information is converted into explicit information that can be documented or shared with someone. This process is known as externalization in which the internal knowledge is made explicit. There are very rare chances that the tacit knowledge can be expressed formally and documented.
In explicit-to-tacit, the explicit knowledge is converted into tacit knowledge. This process is known as internalization one. The most common example for this conversion is thoughts that arouse in mind while reading an article or newspaper.
In explicit-to-explicit, new knowledge is created with utilization of existing knowledge.
- What is knowledge work? How is it characterized and classified? Use examples and applications.
Knowledge work is cognitive work totally opposite to the manual work. In knowledge work, brain constructs the ideas and assumes how the work should be done in the real world. The mental work gives an idea about the real world, how is it and how is it supposed to be. Knowledge work is totally concerned with the mental work. The mental work that constructs the world how it is and how it should be; provides the brain with some knowledge about what should be done in future. This knowledge lets the individual act as he thinks about the real world. It provides a link between thoughts in mind and actions in real world.
In knowledge work, information is manipulated rather than doing some physical work. The knowledge work does require mental work in the beginning; however manual work also requires performing the actions according to the mental work in real world (Mid Noon Group). The most common example of knowledge work is that a clerk is doing some clerical work like managing different files so that he can find them easily when required. Knowledge work is normally non-routine work. It is quite different from the routine work that most of the men do in organizations. Knowledge work is mostly concerned with tacit knowledge as mental work is the main force.
In knowledge work both knowledge are use; tacit and the explicit. It is not possible to separate them in knowledge work. There is more analytical and decision making working included. Knowledge work and knowledge workers are closely related to each other. There are different dimensions about knowledge work; it can either be mental or non-routine work. The person who does both mental and physical work is called Technologist (Nonaka). A simple example is of a plumper, his analytical work is a sub task of knowledge work and later on he will do his physical work.
People who are concerned about taking decisions are knowledge workers like business analysts, manufacturing engineers, and marketing managers. Their main job is to manage knowledge, however some other tasks are also attached to them. Knowledge management workers also play role of knowledge worker. The persons who are specifically technical in their job are also knowledge workers. Knowledge managers are also knowledge workers who have to manage knowledge projects in organization. They are multi-dimensional. They have domain specific knowledge about knowledge project. Moreover, CKO Chief Knowledge Officer is also a knowledge worker. He has to perform more duties than knowledge officers. Duties assigned to him include, design and oversee knowledge infrastructure, manage relationships with external knowledge providers, provide input for knowledge processes, manage knowledge managers and lead development of knowledge strategies.
Knowledge workers do not like interference in their work. They like autonomy and they do not like that someone tell them what to do and how to do. Knowledge workers find it hard to describe their own work. So there is needed to look closely at their work. There is no need to design work for knowledge workers, they already know what they are doing and they have designed their own models. They do it in a better way. Knowledge workers cannot give their best if they are not interested in the assigned job. If they have no interest in the job, they will do it but it will not be considered as knowledge work. Moreover, knowledge workers know the importance of their knowledge so they do not share it easily with anyone.
- Discuss the various KM-cycles. Suggest a possible composite and apply to your organization
There is need to convert information into knowledge in every organization. The process of converting information into knowledge is known as knowledge management cycle or KM Cycle. There have been different models presented for KM cycles. However, each KM cycle has its own advantages. The selection of KM cycle depends on the requirements of organization. Knowledge management cycles have few basic components that need to work on in the organization. The basics steps in knowledge management cycle are, identify, plan, acquire, distribute, foster use, maintain and dispose. Here identification means to identify the existing knowledge either it is internal or external. In planning stage, the motive is to plan out what information is needed (Belavkin). In the next step, the required knowledge is acquired and developed. Later on, acquired or developed knowledge is distributed among other departments of organization. In the next step foster usage of knowledge is carried out. In the second last step, the quality of knowledge is maintained, and in the last step the information that is no longer needed, is disposed off.
There are four KM cycles globally accepted. These are
- The Wiig KM Cycle
- The Meyer and Zack KM Cycle
- The McElroy KM Cycle
- The Bukowitz and Williams KM Cycle
- The Wiig KM Cycle
Wiig believed that the organization must have, business and customer, resources and ability to act. By business and customer he meant to have products and services and resources means people and facilities. Wiig KM Cycle has main four parts that are
In building step, the knowledge is obtained from different resource that can be internal or external. It is also possible with experimentation or hiring new people. Once the knowledge is obtained, there is need to analyze the knowledge and find out which knowledge is required at that time. Once the knowledge is analyzed, it is synthesized to form broader principle and hypothesis is created. Then a connection is established between existing and newly developed knowledge (Belavkin). Later on, knowledge is codified in a way that is easily understandable by the employees. Later on knowledge is organized so that it can be utilized. In the next step of Wiig KM Cycle, knowledge is moved to holding step in which knowledge is remembered, accumulated, embedded and archived. In the third step, pooling, knowledge is formulated for collaborative teams, assembled and is accessed. In the last step, knowledge is applied to the organization.
- The Meyer and Zack KM Cycle
The Meyer and Zack KM Cycle is based on knowledge repository and knowledge refinery. There are five steps involved in this KM Cycle.
In the acquisition step, raw material is analyzed deeply about it relevance, credibility, depth, breath and exclusivity. The data must be of high quality. They believed that the output of KM cycle depends on input. If the finest data is given, then the output will be fine as well. Later on, after knowledge acquisition, knowledge is refined to provide quality knowledge. Both physical and logical refinements are applied. After refinement, knowledge is stored in both physical and digital forms. In the distribution process, it is decided how knowledge will be distributed, to the end user, either in form of fax, email, publication etc. In the last, the knowledge is presented to the end user. The end user must have context knowledge so that he can get benefit from knowledge.
- The McElroy KM Cycle
The McElroy KM Cycle is based on five steps that are
- Knowledge Production
- Organization Knowledge
- Knowledge Integration
- Distributed Organization Knowledge Base
- Business-Process Environment
In this cycle, knowledge is produced. Knowledge can be obtained either within the organization or outside the organization. The organizational knowledge is used to produce new knowledge. Once the knowledge is produced it is integrated with different departments of organization. In business process environment, knowledge is checked if it meets the expectations or not.
- The Bukowitz and Williams KM Cycle
The following steps are involved in Bukowitz and Williams KM Cycle.
First the required information is gathered according to the requirements of end user. The next step is how to use that information and combine it with organization. Later on that information is learnt with past experience and transition between application and generation. Then the employees are asked to use that information to know what have they learnt. Later on intellectual capital is assessed (Belavkin). In the next step, information that is available is made quality information. And new information is developed as well. In the last step information that is not needed or being utilized is eliminated.
The most appropriate KM cycle to be applied on the organization is Wiig KM Cycle. It follows the basic needs for knowledge management cycle. It can be applied to most of the organizations.
- Discuss the theory of organizational knowledge creation (ref Chapter 3). Give examples.
The theory of organizational knowledge creation was presented by Nonaks in 1994. He said that the knowledge is created within organization through a dialogue between tacit and explicit knowledge. Both of this knowledge is very important in knowledge creation. It is not possible to ignore one of these in knowledge creation process. These four processes are
Whereas explicit knowledge can be documented and codified in an understandable form while tacit knowledge is informal knowledge that cannot be shared or communicated with others. Here socialization means the interaction between different individual entities through different ways like imitation or observation. On the other hand, combination is joining of explicit knowledge and other system information. When the explicit knowledge is converted into tacit knowledge then it is called internalization while on the other hand, if tacit knowledge is converted into explicit knowledge then it is called externalization.
Knowledge creation process is initialized when four of this process interacts with each other. The interaction is because of some action like group discussion, experimentation, documentation. In simple words it can be said that it is a simple spiral process that moves upwards. It starts from group level then moves towards organizational level. Later on, it moves towards inter organizational level. It is important to note that tacit, explicit, individual and group knowledge are very important for organizational knowledge creation. Each of the above mentioned have their own characteristics that are unique.
Knowledge creation process depends on the individual or groups who have some new ideas that can be implemented in the organization. Nonaka believes that organizational knowledge creation process is basically two dimensional. Either it is created by individual only or it is created with interaction of explicit and tacit knowledge. These lay down basis for the creation of organizational knowledge. Nonaka presented a model for knowledge creation process that includes, sharing tacit knowledge with others with the process of socialization. The next step in knowledge creation is the concept creation process. When some knowledge is shared, it is converted into explicit knowledge that can be documented and shared. Once new concepts are created, they need to be justified either they will be beneficial for organization or not. If the concept is worthy for organization it is converted into a model. In this step, the knowledge is created and distributed among different departments of organization.
- Discuss the barriers and enablers to organizational knowledge creation and how they apply to your company. What and how would you change to improve the KC environment?
Organizational Knowledge creation is a very long process and there are number complexities as well. There are two basic kinds of barriers in organizational knowledge creation, one is individual barriers and the second ones are organizational barriers. However, there are basically four organizational barriers to knowledge creation process that are:
- Legitimate Language
- Organizational stories
- Company Paradigms
- Legitimate Language
The first barrier to organizational knowledge creation process is the legitimate knowledge. The reason for this barrier is that when individuals need to share their knowledge or whatever they think in their mind, it is hard for them to express it in formal language (Dimmick, 2007). To share their tacit knowledge they need some individual vocabulary so that they can easily express their thoughts and knowledge. There should be some new vocabulary so that the individuals can share their tacit knowledge that can be converted into explicit knowledge and can be documented.
- Organizational Stories
The second barrier to organizational knowledge creation is the stories that are quite famous in the organization. Most of these stories are anecdotal and they have impression on the individual that stop them for doing anything that has already been done in organization. If the person who took the same step failed in completion of his step, and he is no more in organization, it will have a negative impact on individual and he will hesitate in doing that again.
The third barrier in organizational knowledge creation is procedures of the management. The procedures are basically like double edged sword. On one hand it shows the procedures that have improved productivity of the organization and on the other hand, the procedures are stopped with certain hurdles that do not allow novelty in organizations (Dimmick, 2007). Like the development of product needs different departments to work together, but budget control of organization does not allow different departments to work at one place on one project.
- Company Paradigms
The last and most basic barrier in organizational knowledge creation is company paradigm or model. It is the base for knowledge creation in organization. It acts like a border line in which knowledge workers have to stay and work within. If the knowledge worker creates knowledge according to the paradigm of organization then he will be appreciated otherwise he will face failure.
There are some enables in organization as well that help in creation of knowledge. These enablers are
- Instilling a K vision
- Managing Conversations
- Mobilizing K-Activities
- Creating the Right Context
- Globalizing Local K
The first enable is instilling a knowledge vision that means, to instill the individuals in organization to move forward and try something new in organization that could help in more and more development in organization. It is duty of managers to instill new knowledge in minds so that they accept new knowledge and strategies. The conversations need to be made effective. The individuals should be good enough to share their knowledge and should know how to express their tacit knowledge. The knowledge workers should mobilize and encouraged that new knowledge will be appreciated and applied in organization. The structure of organization must provide structured knowledge to work on; because new knowledge is created by working on existing knowledge. Moreover, knowledge created in one department should be transmitted to other departments so that they can make use of it.
In organization, the barriers must be removed as soon as possible. First of all, language must be improved in organization so that every individual can express his tacit knowledge for conversion into explicit knowledge so that it can be documented. Organizational stories must be eliminated and individuals should be encouraged to take steps they think can be beneficial for organization. The procedures and paradigm should be a bit flexible so that individuals can create new knowledge and implement it in organization.
- Discuss the different ways knowledge (tacit or explicit) may be captured, codified, and dissemination. Use examples from your organization
There are times that knowledge created in organization should be captured so that it can be applied later. Sometimes, knowledge created is not suitable for organization at that time, so knowledge is captured so that it can be applied later on. Moreover, knowledge that is being created, knowledge codification techniques are also developed. Experts’ mind is full of very important tacit knowledge. That knowledge should be captured so that it can be codified later on into explicit knowledge. There are different techniques to capture knowledge in organization:
- Concept mapping
- Process mapping
- Constrained tasks
- Concept sorting
- Repertory grid
The best technique to capture tacit knowledge is interviewing. Mostly, the interviews are recorded so that they can be written or converted into explicit knowledge. There are different kinds of interviews conducted like unstructured, semi structured and structured interviews. It is preferred that interview should be planned and scheduled (Cairns). There must be experts who can ask more questions to extract tacit knowledge. This technique is base for other techniques. The other mostly used technique for knowledge capturing is concept mapping. It is a diagrammatic way of presenting knowledge in a particular way. It starts from a center theme and the related concepts are shown as nodes.
Once the knowledge is captured, it is codified into explicit and tangible knowledge so that it can be documented and shared with others in the organizations. It is important to codify knowledge so that it can be preserved for future use and better understanding. It is important so that discussions and communication can be made better. There are different techniques for codifications of knowledge that are
- Cognitive maps
- Decision trees
- Knowledge taxonomies
Cognitive maps are the physical representation of individual’s mental state. The ideas are represented by nodes and the arrows show relation between them. It is based on concept mapping and a knowledge model is created. Decision tree is like a flowchart which shows alternate paths and impact of different decisions taken (Cairns). The advantage of decision tree is that it also provides some rules to follow specific path in decision making. The third technique to codify knowledge is knowledge taxonomies. In this technique the concepts of knowledge are represented as building blocks and the dependencies of concepts. It is in a hierarchical shape.
Knowledge is disseminated after it is codified so that it can be shared and communicated with others. The basic methods for knowledge dissemination are teaching, community of practice, group intervention method and coaching.
- Discuss the different ways knowledge (tacit) may be shared or transferred. Give examples from your organization. NOTE: You may optionally combine this answer with #13 above (it will count as two answers).
It is very hard to capture tacit knowledge, because it is not in formal way. The tacit knowledge cannot be documented so it is not easy to share and communicate with others. However, there are some ways through which tacit knowledge can be captured. Once the tacit knowledge is captured it is easy to share it with other. However; then the information is not in tacit form while it is converted into explicit knowledge. The easy way to share tacit information is through socialization. The tacit knowledge is informal so the knowledge possessors find it hard to share it with others. They cannot explain in a better way that is in their mind.
Here are few methods that can be used in order to share tacit knowledge. The best possible way to share tacit knowledge is by conducting interviews. Those interviews are recorded. The interviews can be in different forms, unstructured, semi structured or structured (Cairns). Unstructured interviews are very flexible as there no predefined questions but they have an agenda. On the other hand, in semi structure interviews, there is agenda and some questions are predefined. While in structured interviews, questions are predefined that need to be answered. In interview technique, there must be an expert who can get more tacit knowledge. Once that tacit knowledge is recorded, it can be shared with others.
The other ways that can share tacit knowledge are
- Informal Networks
- Unstructured Discussions
- Experimental Workspace
Tacit knowledge is shared mostly in informal networks, where individuals meet daily and they share their knowledge. However, the informal network is always a defined environment that can be either an organization or a school. Other technique in which tacit knowledge is shared is unstructured discussion. In this technique, people can share their knowledge related to any topic. So the tacit knowledge is transferred to others. Another affective method of tacit knowledge sharing is involvement of knowledge workers in experimental workspace. They enhance problem solving techniques and create new social networks.
- Describe social network theory and its role in knowledge creation. Explain if and how social networks be used in your organization to create knowledge. (Discuss security concerns, if any.)
A structure that is composed of individuals or organizations is called social network theory. The individuals or the organization are nodes in these social networks while the connecting lines are called ties. Nodes can be any individual that is contributing in the social network while on the other hand, organizations are also considered nodes. Ties are the relations between nodes that are individuals or organizations (Nieves and Osorio, 2012). The nodes can be anything knowledge or any other knowledge worker that is part of social network. Ties between nodes can be of different strengths. Ties can be weak or strong. The strength of ties depends on the relationship between them.
Social network theory is totally different from other theories of sociological studies. The difference is the importance of nodes and ties. In sociological studies, nodes are very important while in social network theory, ties between nodes are more important. The ties contribute a lot in social network. Weak ties in social network theories are of less important than those ties that are strong in network. The set of people which create a tie can be strong or weak. If there are important ties between nodes among people, then it will be a strong tie. On the other hand, where many important ties are missing in nodes is called weak ties.
Any individual or an organization that has got weak ties will be deprived of latest information as the process of gaining knowledge for them will be quite slow. The reason is that, many ties will be missing that can case this process speed up (Nieves and Osorio, 2012). In this way, knowledge will spread at a slow rate and many individuals with weak ties will have to face lack of latest knowledge. On the other hand, strong ties are easily accessible as they have many ties that can provide them with latest knowledge.
As social network involves many individuals and organizations, then the knowledge will be shared with more number of people. It is already stated that knowledge creation starts from the existing knowledge. As more knowledge will be shared with the help of social network there are chances that new knowledge is created. It is clear that new knowledge creation speeds up when there is abundant anecdotal knowledge available related to different organizations and departments.
In our organization, social network should be used to spread available knowledge to knowledge worker so that they can get the available knowledge and create something new. Moreover, people who are not able to express their tacit knowledge at time, they will be able to share their knowledge at social network. Stronger the ties in nodes in social network, greater the chances for creation of new knowledge for organization.
However, it is not always appreciable because social networks can be accessed by many people. In this way, tacit knowledge can be shared with some unauthorized people. However this issues can be handled as well.
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