To Be or Not to Be? Sustainability Challenges for 21st Century


Nowadays, societies all around the world are dealing with environmental and socioeconomic issues. Therefore the term “sustainability” is becoming more popular in the corporate world. The shift into the knowledge economy, where knowledge is seen as the primary source of value creation, has also heightened interest in organizational knowledge and knowledge management. Thus, it is vital to consider what sustainability and knowledge management are and how to effectively develop and implement them in business.

Learning Organization

In business, a learning organization can be defined in a variety of ways, and different types of learning organizations can be classified. A learning organization is typically defined as a collection of individuals working together to improve their skills to produce results that are important to them (Luhn, 2016, p. 2). A learning organization is a corporation that encourages the learning of its employees and develops itself regularly. It excels in creating, acquiring, and transferring knowledge, as well as changing its behavior to reflect new information and insights. These ideas, no matter where they come from, are the catalyst for organizational change. Learning organizations may emerge as a result of the pressures that modern businesses face, allowing them to remain competitive in the marketplace. Learning organizations have five main characteristics: systems thinking, personal mastery, mental models, shared vision, and team learning.

Knowledge management (KM) involves planning, coordinating, encouraging, and supervising an organization’s personnel, procedures, and operation to guarantee that its knowledge-related resources are strengthened and properly utilized (Yuesti and Sumantra, 2017, p.22). Knowledge acquisition, creation, refinement, storage, transfer, sharing, and usage are all KM processes (Yuesti and Sumantra, 2017, p.10). The knowledge management task is to organize these initiatives, develop strategies and strategies to manage them, and encourage employees to engage.

Knowledge Management Systems

Knowledge management systems (KMS) are computer-based communication and information technology applications that assist in a number of KM operations (Wu, Lo and Ng, 2019). The relationship between knowledge management and organizational learning (OL) may be shown from several perspectives. OL is said to focus on the process of knowledge acquisition, creation, and processing, whereas KM is seen to focus on the content (Wu, Lo and Ng, 2019). Another approach to thinking about the connection between the two regions is to think of OL as KM’s aim. KM initiatives aid the company in integrating information into knowledge, allowing it to regularly update its practices and pursue its objectives through encouraging knowledge sharing and implementation. In this light, organizational learning is one of the most significant strategies for a company to enhance its knowledge usage over time.

Sustainability in Continuous Improvement and Knowledge Management

Sustainability entails valuing biodiversity as well as human health, equity, and freedom. It involves ensuring economic stability while avoiding pollution of the water, land, and air. It enables the development of economic and social structures that simultaneously fulfill human bodily requirements. People, rules, and systems that operate to guarantee that work is planned, executed, and completed and goals are met make up the internal environment. The external environment is made up of all people and things: entities, stakeholders, and structures that will or can be affected by business operations or have an impact on company operations. Economic factors, people, health, education, and governments are some of the associated environmental considerations (Ben-Eli, 2018, p.1340). All of this influences or is influenced by a business.

A well-thought-out workforce development strategy aids businesses in identifying the skills required to successfully implement and accomplish the goals of their company strategies while maintaining a competitive advantage. The strategy should be used to drive workforce planning in areas including training needs assessments, apprenticeship numbers, worker retention initiatives, and other human resource management requirements.

Current and future economic, regulatory, and social developments should all be considered when developing a workforce development strategy. A qualified team that has been taught the usage of sustainable practices is critical to a company’s success. The key to creating a creative culture that drives continual company improvement and competitive advantage is to train and educate employees in sustainable practices and new technology.

Such sustainable practices are continuous improvement and knowledge management. Continuous improvement is the practice of making incremental and breakthrough changes to products, services, and processes over time (Yuesti and Sumantra, 2017, p.18). These initiatives aim for continuous progress or breakthrough improvement all at once. Engagement at all levels, as well as a solid management structure that addresses the long-term, gradual character of culture-based change, are required for long-term continuous improvement.

Insights and experiences obtained via company operations should also be valued and documented using a knowledge management system. The data in a management system may then be used for future reference and decision-making. This means that data in a system should be stored in a way that allows for quick searches and retrieval of results. Insights and experiences obtained via company operations should be valued and documented using a knowledge management system. The data in a management system may then be used for future reference and decision-making. This means that data in a system should be stored in a way that allows for quick searches and retrieval of results.

Concepts of Quality Management Models

Quality management maintains the consistency of an organization, product, or service (Tavakoli and Azizi, 2018, p. 2). The four main components are quality planning, assurance, control, and improvement. Quality management is primarily concerned not just with the quality of goods and services but also with the actions that contribute to them. Market orientation, vision, employee involvement, customer perspective, development, and evidence-based problem solving are examples of quality management tool elements.

Market orientation

Customer needs and exceeding customer expectations are the fundamental goals of quality management. When a company gains and keeps the trust of its customers and other stakeholders, it is able to achieve long-term success. Every encounter with a client presents a chance to add value to the consumer.


Leaders at all levels develop a common purpose and direction, as well as conditions that encourage employees to participate in attaining the organization’s quality goals. Leadership must embrace the essential changes for quality improvement and promote a quality culture throughout the organization. An organization’s strategy, rules, procedures, and resources may all be aligned to achieve its goals if it has a clear sense of purpose and direction.

Employee involvement

To increase the firm’s capacity to make and bring value, employees at all levels must be knowledgeable, motivated, and invested. It is critical to include all employees at all levels and treat them as individuals to run a company successfully and efficiently. People are more engaged in accomplishing the organization’s quality goals when they are recognized, empowered, and given opportunities to grow their skills.

Process Approach

When activities are recognized and controlled as interconnected processes that work as a coherent system, more consistent and predictable results may be obtained. The quality management system is made up of procedures that are all linked together. Understanding how this system generates outcomes allows an organization to improve the system and its performance.


Successful organizations have a constant emphasis on improvement. To sustain existing levels of performance, respond to changes in internal and external situations, and generate new possibilities, an organization must improve.

Evidence-based Problem Solving

Decisions that are built on knowledge and information control and assessment are much more likely to provide the desired results. Making decisions is a difficult process that is always fraught with uncertainty. It typically includes a variety of input formats and providers and also a personal interpretation of such data. It’s critical to comprehend cause-and-effect linkages as well as the possibility of unexpected effects. Facts, facts, and data analysis improve decision-making objectivity and confidence.

Continuous Improvement Models Examples

Continuous improvement is a process that aims to find new ways to enhance efficiency regularly. This entails evaluating current processes, goods, and services to maximize production while minimizing waste (Tavakoli and Azizi, 2018, p. 11). It’s a process that becomes ingrained in a company’s day-to-day operations. This may be accomplished by enabling everyone in an organization to recognize that they can identify areas for improvement and so ignite positive change. Such models of continuous improvement can be found in companies such as Toyota and Amazon.


The Toyota Way, as embodied by the Toyota Production System, is a deeply ingrained cultural and management philosophy that focuses on continuously improving the way work is done, looking for flaws in the system or process instead of people, involving every employee in identifying and solving problems, as well as ensuring that every operation the company undertakes adds value to customers. It gained popularity in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s. It was and still is a completely different style of management, at least for the great majority of businesses. Many of the Toyota Production System’s ideas, such as “just in time,” will be well-known.


This e-commerce monster represents the modern-day confluence of efficient procedures with strong, well-designed software. Amazon’s consumers may travel effortlessly between a virtual world where they shop and order and the real world where sophisticated and uber-efficient logistics deliver their items in as little as 24 hours. If Amazon’s Prime Air service becomes a reality, which uses unmanned drones to carry items, delivery times may be cut in half. Many of the behind-the-scenes operations at this online shopping paradise are driven by algorithms, and Amazon’s recommendation engine can give buyers a tailored experience that no other store can match. Amazon is one of a new generation of operationally outstanding companies that exemplifies how process excellence may enable whole new business models.

Sustainability Principles

Sustainability is commonly defined as the method and practice by which humanity prevents environmental degradation to preserve environmental integrity that does not allow the well-being of modern societies to decline (Ben-Eli, 2018, p.1339). It lies in the three main pillars, which are social equity, economic feasibility, and environmental protection (Ben-Eli, 2018, p.1338). Education, health, personal safety, and leisure are all components of social equality. The goal is to sustain social cohesiveness while also respecting the environment and the region’s economic resources. According to economic viability, a productive system must fulfill a society’s requirements without endangering natural resources or future generations’ well-being. As a result, its use will be tightly linked to population demands and environmental constraints. As for environmental protection, it states that in order to utilize natural resources without depleting them and to contribute to their recovery for future purposes, specific environmental protection is necessary, which, as in earlier situations, must also take into consideration population requirements.

In business, the sustainability principles can be defined as diversity, modularity, openness, slack resources, and matching cycles (Ben-Eli, 2018, p.1337). To be flexible, the company needs a broad combination of resources, people, and investments. While varied investments are thought to consume resources and managerial attention, a single line of business, single income sources, or employees with similar attitudes might expose the company to larger dangers. Organizations also need to be less interconnected and focus on modularity by keeping functions distinct. Resilient firms must be aware of what is going on beyond their walls. These businesses have a keen awareness of impending problems. They are always keeping an eye on the outside world and creating scenarios for conceivable futures. Finally, Understanding the economic and environmental rhythms will enable the company to truly synchronize with them and avoid overreacting to what is most likely simply a cycle.


All in all, staff training in sustainable practices of learning organizations incorporates environmental and social issues into day-to-day company operations, resulting in enhanced business performance and knowledge management. Organizations require a competent and motivated staff, as well as a business culture that is prepared to face a new set of difficulties that come with making the company more long-term and practice-oriented. This goal can be achieved by using various knowledge management tools, sustainability principles, and principles of continuous development.

Reference List

Ben-Eli, M.U. (2018). ‘Sustainability: definition and five core principles, a systems perspective’, Sustainability Science, 13(5), pp.1337-1343.

Luhn, A. (2016). “The Learning Organization”, Creative and Knowledge Society, 6, pp. 1-13.

Tavakoli, A. and Azizi, A. (2018). ‘Models, Techniques and Indicators of Quality Management Assessment in Manufacturing Industries Over the Past Decade’, International Journal of Applied Research in Management and Economics, 1(3), pp. 1-13. doi: 10.33422/IJARME.2018.10.40

Wu, J., Lo, M.F. and Ng, AW (2019). ‘Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development’. Encyclopedia of Sustainability in Higher Education.

Yuesti, A. and Sumantra, K. (2017). ‘Empowerment On The Knowledge And Learning Organization For Community Development’, Scientific Research Journal, 5(9), pp. 1-26.

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