The importance of knowledge management and the subsequent sharing of knowledge within an organization using Information System and Information Technology have taken center stage within most firms globally (Frappaolo 2006). To help realize knowledge management within firms and organizations, there should be sharing of knowledge as this would help in creation and identification of knowledge base within business firms. It is vital because it helps structuring data in order to ensure efficiency when transferring it to the people (Morey, Maybury & Thuraisingham 2002). The purpose of knowledge management and sharing is to help organizations create, share and use knowledge more effectively. When a business manages its knowledge properly, it reduces errors, makes work simpler, improves organizations services and profitability and also leads to innovation. This article will critically analyze ETM’s knowledge management initiative to date and do an analysis on the comments and views of Dr. June McDonald on knowledge management.
Rob and Lisa formed a consultant firm called Essential Technology Management (ETM). They aimed at managing information system, information technology and information system in order to improve small and medium enterprises and government operations in Australia. The firm had bright and educated consultants but the problem was that the senior employees could not share their experience with the young employees which resulted to the firm’s failure. Due to this, Rob and Lisa contacted Dr MacDonald who was an expert in knowledge management in order to talk to the consultants and advice them on how to achieve success.
Essential Technology Management consultancy firm had experienced workers in information technology. Rob Lin had masters of information management and systems. Other employees had gained experience after working in the consultancy firm for more than seven years. These experienced workers made the firm to be the best in Australia because it helped small and medium enterprises in areas like formulation of information technology strategies, management of information technology and in information technology evaluation.
In order for Rob and Lisa to achieve these goals they set up processes to help in formulation of information technology strategy for small business. The processes were also meant to help the small and medium business in evaluation process management of benefits. A program management in Essential Technology management was launched by Rob and Lisa. The aim was to enhance communication and at the same time improve sharing of knowledge (Awad & Ghaziri 2007).
Essential Technology Management consultancy firm had a knowledge database in order to act as a medium of communication among the managers and employees (Morey, Maybury & Thuraisingham 2002).
Positive culture is important in order to ensure successful knowledge management. Essential Technology Management firm had poor organizational and human resource management culture (Rollet 2003). The employees were not properly trained which made it difficult for them to carry out the activities in the firm. When a culture of sharing knowledge and learning is adopted it results to good knowledge management.
The consultancy firm has not put in place good rewarding system which has resulted to poor knowledge management. The firm should adopt a culture of rewarding employees in knowledge management initiative according to their expectations. They should be rewarded both in tangible and intangible ways for helping in knowledge sharing (Christensen 2003).
A good culture should also incorporate good employee recruitment and retention strategy (Puesey 1999). This will help the firm to come with employees who will assist in knowledge sharing and thus achieving successful knowledge management. Dr McDonald insisted to Lisa and Rob to adopt a good organization and human resource culture. He also advised them on how to develop a good knowledge strategy. Rob and Lisa decided to retain Dr McDonald in order to develop a knowledge management strategy for essential Technology Management firm. This would help the firm to gain an edge in the competitive consulting industry.
Focus on knowledge management
The older employees in the consulting firm were not willing to share their knowledge with the younger employees. These older employees had special knowledge and were also experts in information technology management. They could not share this with the young employees but rather they used it to their competitive advantage. They had a belief that this knowledge gave them a competitive edge over the other employees and thus would lead to pay increment and promotion in future. Knowledge sharing is important between employees in order to achieve learning and innovation (Honeycutt 2000). Knowledge sharing also helps in improving performance because the young employees will be in a position to get valuable information which is critical in decision making and innovation. Therefore, knowledge sharing in the consultancy firm should be institutionalized and systems which would help in capturing knowledge should be implemented.
When Weni joined ETM consultancy firm she expected much learning to take place because she thought it was a learning organization which also had a mentoring culture. To her surprise no learning took place and all she was taught was the information to complete a certain task and nothing more. This made her very bitter and according to her opinion this resulted to poor performance of the firm.
Tacit knowledge is that knowledge which is hard to explain and it is contextual in nature, it needs practice and transfer through teaching and training (Howard 2000). Capturing tacit knowledge in Essential Technology management firm was a challenge which prevented spread of information throughout the organization and innovation process. Socialization lacked in the firm and thus sharing of experience, technical skills and models was very difficulty. Creation and sharing of tacit knowledge that had been gained through experience was impossible because the older consultant employees were not willing to share their experience with the younger employees. Rather, they kept it for their advantage in order to gain pay rise and promotion in the future.
Open and collaborative team
There was no collaboration between the employees in Essential Technology Management firm. Employees, especially the old ones seemed to compete for high pay and promotion. They could not share their knowledge and experience with the younger employees. This resulted to the firm performing poorly in terms of knowledge management because what the younger employees were taught was how to complete a certain task and thus they could not expand their knowledge.
Due to lack of team collaboration in the firm, it was difficult for employees to interact in matters like decision making, problem solving and objective setting (Morey, Maybury & Thuraisingham 2002). Collaboration in knowledge management is important because it helps employees to achieve goals. It will also help in achieving employee development, development and the employee’s purpose (Morey, Maybury & Thuraisingham 2002).
Sharing sessions in Essential Technology Management firm were conducted. Lisa met with his consultants and praised them as being committed in their work, educated and ethical. Lisa’s meeting with the consultants was to encourage them to work hard in order to increase the knowledge base of the company. She said that when a learning culture is adopted in the company it will lead to good performance of the employees.
Rob and Lisa also decided to carry out a review of the knowledge management in the firm after one and a half years by conducting interviews with some consultants. Most of the young employees felt that the senior consultants used the special knowledge they had to their competitive advantage. This consequently prevented them from sharing their experience and knowledge with these young employees (Knight & Howes 2003). Weni Zhao who was a young consultant was one of the people interviewed. She had high expectation when joining that firm because she had been told that the firm had a learning and collaborative culture. She expected to work with expert who would help her in implementation of information technology projects. During the interview, Weni said that after joining the firm, the experience was different form her expectations. The senior consultants told Weni whatever she was supposed to know was only the information to help her complete a certain task. After conducted the interview, Rob and Lisa learnt that Weni was bitter for being in a firm that was failing in spite of being bright, positive and articulate.
Communities of practice
Communities of practice are people who share a common interest and who work towards improving their knowledge through interaction (Stary & Barachini 2007). In Essential Technology Management firm the employees were consultants who were working towards improving the knowledge base of the firm. The problem was that their interaction was very poor because the senior employees did not share their experience with the junior consultants which made the firm fail in achieving its goals.
Dr McDonald views
After the interview, Weni referred Rob and Lisa to one of her lecturers, Dr McDonald who was an expert in knowledge management. Dr McDonald was contacted by Rob and Lisa and after going through the interview data she decided to meet the senior consultants. Dr McDonald told the consultants that organization culture and good human resource management help in achieving successful knowledge management. She said that tacit knowledge in the firm can be spread through training and mentoring. The senior consultants should share their experience with the young consultants. In order to achieve the activities in knowledge management, skill sharing is important and thus the firm should adopt a learning culture.
Dr McDonald said that a good rewarding system was important in order to compensate the employees for sharing their knowledge. Human resource management should also come up with good policies on how to recruit and retain employees. This will help the firm to have experienced and knowledgeable people who will thus help the firm to be competitive in the consultancy industry (Morey, Maybury & Thuraisingham 2002).
Knowledge is very necessary in organizations because it helps in achieving the goals set (Morey, Maybury & Thuraisingham 2002). Knowledge management and sharing also helps an organization to have a competitive advantage compared to other firms because it is able to deliver value. Adopting the right technology is one of the ways that a firm can be in a position to share knowledge (Morey, Maybury & Thuraisingham 2002). A good culture particularly human resource management and organization culture is important in order to help in success of knowledge management in an organization. There should be the culture of knowledge sharing to ensure that there is effective knowledge management. Team work and sharing sessions are also strategies that organizations can use in order to achieve success in knowledge management. As Dr June McDonald pointed out, the human knowledge pool should be used to advance the knowledge management projects and initiatives. This can only be done through knowledge sharing (Morey, Maybury & Thuraisingham 2002).
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