In today’s competitive world, organizations are shifting from relying on material assets to using intangible assets. For organizations to remain competitive, it now calls for continued innovations. This is the only way through which organizations can standout from others. Innovation can not be achieved without an organization managing its knowledge base. To manage the organizational knowledge base, there is need for organizations to restructure their business models as well as alter their organizational structure (Collison & Parcell, 2001). In addition, there is need for an organization to come up with mechanisms for exploiting the potential possessed by diverse human resources. Besides, it has been discovered that ensuring that all organizational departments work together towards realization of the organizational goals facilitates in increasing the competitive advantage of an organization. This can only be achieved if an organization has proper mechanisms to ensure that knowledge is shared across all the departments within an organization.
An organization can succeed in outdoing its rivals in the market through employees sharing their knowledge and experiences across the organization. The organizational management team can facilitate this by coming up with a knowledge management plan. In this respect, the term “knowledge management” stands for the process of utilizing organizational joint expertise, sharing organizational information, employee skills and facts to ensure that an organization offers quality products or services and meets the needs of all its stakeholders (Davenport, De Long & Beers 1998).
Knowledge management is proving to be the ultimate way through which organizations can survive the current competition in the global business. There is need for every business organization both local and international to come up with a knowledge management plan so as to help it effectively exploit the potential in its human resources as well as the available technology (Daveau 2000). In this regard, this paper aims at coming up with knowledge management plan for Kamuga Sportswear Inc., an international company that manufactures and sells sportswear.
Challenges facing the company
Kamuga Sportswear Inc. is a multinational corporation that deals with production and sales of varied sportswear products. The company has 80 branches across the globe. The vision of the company is to be the leader in the sportswear industry. This is not by dominating the industry but in producing quality products that meet all the needs of the sports men and women as well as increasing its profitability. Being a multinational company, Kamuga Sportswear Inc. has recruited a diverse human resource and also employs technology to assist in management of the company. Through the help of technology, the company ensures that operations are uniform in all its branches.
In spite of this, there are numerous challenges facing the company in its effort to manage its knowledge base. The company has not been in a position to fully exploit its diverse human resources. This has hampered its ability to come up with new innovations. The major problem that the company does is dividing its workforce based on employee’s background. There is no cultural autonomy in the company as all employees are expected to stick to pre-determined operational procedures. This makes it hard for the diverse human resources to exploit their potential thus hindering new innovations in the company.
Apart from not exploiting the potential harbored by the diverse workforce, Kamuga Sportswear Inc. also has a poor rewarding system that discourages employees from sharing their knowledge and expertise. Generally, a rewarding system is aimed at helping employees commit themselves to organizational goals. Those found to be committed are rewarded thus motivating others to work harder. Kamuga Sportswear Inc. has a rewarding system in which the hardworking employees are rewarded. Despite the system leading to employees pulling up their socks, it has discouraged the culture of knowledge and experience sharing among the employees. No one in the company is willing to share his or her knowledge as it would be used by others for their gain at his or her expense. This has made it hard for the company to come up with new innovations as those with novel ideas hold them back as they believe that they are bound to sharing the cake of their innovations with others in the company.
Technology is of paramount importance when it comes to improving organizational performance. Through the technology, a company is able to identify the available innovations as well as come up with its unique innovations thus being competitive. Furthermore, organizations use technology to share information on how to enhance their performance. However, Kamuga Sportswear Inc. has not greatly benefited from implementing technology in its operations. Rather than letting its numerous branches to use the technology in developing sportswear apparel that meet the needs of their target markets, the company has come up with a uniform method of operations and apparel production that is shared by all the branches. This has discouraged cultural autonomy in the company making it hard for the different branches to effectively exploit the potentials of their human resources as well as fully exploit the target market in their varied countries.
The company hires its employees through the help of a recruiting agency. The agency is responsible of recruiting and training the workforce for Kamuga Sportswear Inc. which is then deployed to different departments within the company. At times, the deployed employees find a totally different environment when they get into the company. A lot of transformation has been done in the company without it the updating the recruiting agency. As a result, the agency uses training guides that it was issued with ten years ago. The company has automated most of its operations and also come up with new methods of manufacturing its products. Hence those hired take time to cope with these changes leading to the company organizing for on-the-job training to equip them with the requisite knowledge to work in their different areas of specializations.
Knowledge management recommendations for the company
To address the identified challenges that are facing the company there is need for the management team to formulate strong mechanisms that will help it manage its knowledge base. The team needs to come up with a knowledge management committee that will be responsible for coming up with a feasible plan to be implemented (Nonak & Takeuchi 1995). By working closely with the organizational management team, the committee should devise a framework that will help it come up with knowledge management initiatives. The committee is expected to come up with a knowledge management framework that captures all the elements that facilitate in adding value to an organization (Zack 1999). These are people, process and technology. The framework should give room for creation of novel knowledge as well as sharing of the introduced and available knowledge.
Kamuga Sportswear Inc.’s vision is being the leader in sportswear industry. This can not be achieved if all employees within the company are not equipped with requisite knowledge on production and distribution of quality products. In coming up with its framework, the committee ought to look at some of the methods that can be used by the company to achieve its vision. It needs to look at some of the available opportunities of coming up with new knowledge. This does not imply that the company is short of knowledge. Apart from looking for new knowledge, the committee also needs to look for ways of exploiting its available knowledge so as to make the company more competitive.
Today, sports have become more of a business than a recreation. People are greatly earning from participating in different sports. This implies that more sportswear apparels will be required as time goes on. In addition more sports are going to be discovered. For sportswear companies to be competitive, they have to come up with production mechanisms that will help them manufacture apparels that are not only of high quality but also that make their users comfortable. With almost every geographical region having its favorite sport, the companies will also be required to develop sportswear products that cater for the varied geographical localities. Hence, Kamuga Sportswear Inc. ought to make use of its diverse workforce, technology, hiring agency and rewarding system in ensuring that its employees are equipped with the requisite knowledge.
The future growth of any organization lies in its ability to exploit the knowledge and talent possessed by its diverse workforce. A diverse workforce brings with it a pool of talents and innovations. One of the main reasons why organizations fail to effectively exploit the potential of a diverse workforce is their tendency to pigeonhole their employees (Tounkara 2009). The workforce is grouped based on its background. The same case applies to Kamuga Sportswear Inc. The company has divided its workforce and assigned them to different departments based on their diversity silhouette. Managers in this company use ethnocentric ideologies in their management. They believe that the operational procedures established by the company are the best and are never willing to welcome novel operational ideas from outside. Consequently, there is no cultural autonomy in the company. Despite there being a variety of operational strategies that would help the different branches improve their competitive advantage based on their location, the management is adamant to embracing these procedures.
For the company to effectively manage the knowledge and experience possessed by its diverse workforce there is need for it to start by training its managers on methods of enhancing and promoting diversity at workplaces. There is need for the managers to use the policy of “think global, act local” to improve organizational competitive advantage (The Knowledge Company 2005). Despite the company having knowledge in sportswear industry, managers in the different branches have to consider the local needs of their customers when developing and selling their products.
It is difficult to come up with a clear distinction of the diversity at workplaces. Rather than dividing employees based on their backgrounds, Kamuga Sportswear Inc. should make sure that there is diversity in all levels of its operations. Through this, the management team and employees will share knowledge on matters to do with organizational operations. For instance, by ensuring that there is diversity in the sales team, the company will successfully gather market information thus being in a position to manufacture products that meet customer needs. In addition, the company ought to shift from using ethnocentric ideologies to geocentric. This will give room for employees to chip in their diverse skills in enhancing organizational operations.
With companies shifting from exploitation of tangible assets to a more knowledge-based economy, Kamuga Sportswear Inc. need to strategically organize its workforce based on their knowledge and experience (Davenport & Prusak 1998). Based on one’s background, different employees may have skills in different fields. Hence, the company should identify the skills possessed by its various employees and assign them to the most relevant fields (Donoghue, Harris & Weitzman 2010). In addition, the company should introduce the culture of work rotation. This will help in equipping its employees with skills on different areas of operations thus cutting down on costs associated with hiring new employees for each area of specialization.
Rewarding systems are used in motivating employees and making them committed to organizational goals. Different organizations use different rewarding systems. At times, a rewarding system may inhibit or facilitate in improving organizational performance. For instance, the rewarding system employed by Kamuga Sportswear Inc. has not helped it achieve its objectives. The company has a rewarding system that advocates for employees reward based on their performance. This has completely discouraged teamwork in the company as every employee struggle to ensure that his or her contribution as an individual is acknowledge thus being rewarded. Consequently, employees are reluctant to sharing their knowledge with others as they fear that they may take the opportunity to outdo them thus being rewarded at their expense. There is need for the organization to ensure that all employees trust each other so as to work together towards a common goal. It is difficult to effectively manage and share the knowledge possessed by the employees with the current level of individualism that is being exhibited in the company.
It is imperative that the company’s management team understands some of the factors that have led to the problems that are hampering knowledge sharing in the company. The current reward system is the major hurdle that is discouraging knowledge sharing. To ensure that employees freely share their skills without fearing that some may benefit at the expense of others, the company needs to come up with a reward system that benefits all the employees (Ramalingam 2005). Rather than rewarding individual employees based on their performances, the company needs to establish a gain-sharing program that will make sure that all employees are rewarded whenever the company performs. This will make it hard for individual employees to know their level of contribution hence eliminating individualism and promoting teamwork.
Almost every organization is in the process of integrating technology in its management and operations. This is helping in cutting down on operating costs and enhancing organizational efficiency. Nevertheless, the technology ought to be flexible so as to cater for upcoming changes in the organization (Hahn & Suramani 2000). Despite Kamuga Sportswear Inc. implementing a state-of-the art technology in running its operations, it has not fully benefitted from the technology as it has discouraged innovations in the company. It is this technology that has led to managers using ethnocentric ideas in running the day to day operations of their various branches. The company has established uniform operational procedures that are followed by employees in all its branches. Consequently, employees with alternative skills on how to manufacture sports products that meet the needs of the local markets have been discouraged from sharing the knowledge. They have resulted in following the established procedures which have at times led to production of sportswear that are not in high demand.
In addition to using a technology that is universal to all its branches across the globe, the company needs to make the technology flexible. It should give room for changes in areas that individual branches find to be necessary to enhance their performance. Every geographical region has its favorite sport. As a result, the different sportswear products manufactured by the company are not equally demanded in all areas. Giving room for changes to be made in procedures used in manufacturing and selling sportswear in different markets will facilitate in knowledge management. For instance, the sales team in an individual locality will conduct a thorough market analysis thus gaining knowledge about the taste and preference of the potential consumers. This knowledge can then be conveyed to the manufacturers thus guaranteeing that they come up with products that meet the identified taste and preference (Hall 2001). The current situation discourages innovation since even after identifying customers’ preferences; it is difficult to change the established operational procedures.
The company needs to ensure that its system of operations is designed in a way that different departments within a branch will share information on matters affecting their operations without affecting departments in other branches (Serrat 2009). For instance, it should be possible for the sales team from one branch to share its findings with the production team in the same branch.
Outsourcing the hiring process to recruiting agencies has its benefits and demerits. A company cuts down on operating costs as well as time wastage. The money that could be used in advertising the available vacancies and organizing for and holding the recruitment process is channeled to other productive projects. On the other hand, failure to furnish the recruiting agency with the required qualifications may lead to it hiring inexperienced staffs (Gongla & Rizzuto 2001). This is the problem that currently faces Kamuga Sportswear Inc. The company does not inform the recruiting agency about the transformations it undergoes. Consequently, the recruiting agency has continued using the same qualifications it considered ten years ago to recruit the current staffs. In the end the recruited staffs have found it hard to cope with operations in the company forcing the company to organize for on-the-job training. This is turning out to be costly for the company despite it outsourcing its recruitment process to narrow down its operating costs.
To ensure that it gets experienced staffs, the company needs to regularly furnish it recruiting agencies with information on the current and potential transformations (Canadian International Development Agency 2003). Moreover, the company needs to always review its qualification requirements and communicate them to the recruiting agency. It is only by working closely with its recruiting agency that Kamuga Sportswear Inc. will hire qualified employees. The recruiting team will be in a position to select qualified recruits and train them appropriately before deploying them to serve in the various branches of the company.
The current rate of competition in the business world has rendered tangible assets useless in helping a business increase its competitive advantage. Organizations are now turning to knowledge management as the sole method of making them standout from their rivals. Through this, organizations have come up with new innovations helping then to increase their sales volume as well as cut down on their operating costs. To benefit from knowledge management, organizations have to bear in mind several things. They have to come up with a knowledge management framework that addresses the workforce, operational processes and technology. These are the three main factors that contribute to the success of the business.
For Kamuga Sportswear Inc. to make use of its available knowledge as well as acquire new knowledge it has to come up with a knowledge management committee. The committee has to help the company deal with challenges such as diversity management in bid to fully utilize the knowledge possessed by its diverse workforce. Apart from managing its diverse workforce, the company also has to restructure its operational procedures to allow for flexibility. This will permit its employees to bring in new knowledge that will help the company increase its competitive advantage. The technology being used by the company ensures that operational procedures are uniform in all its various branches. This discourages innovation. To promote creation of new knowledge in the company, the technology has to be adjusted to tolerate flexibility. Employees in every branch have to be able to introduce novel operational procedures that they feel will help the company meet the needs of the local market.
The current company’s rewarding system promotes individualism making it hard for employees to share their knowledge with others. The company has to come up with a reward system that is incentive-based. The system will help in discouraging individualism and promoting teamwork thus helping in knowledge sharing. Gain-sharing program will help in this as employees will be equally rewarded thus encouraging them to work together. Finally, the company needs to work closely with its recruiting agency so as to ensure that they recruit qualified employees.
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