Implementation of knowledge management

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1. Obstacles to the implementation of knowledge management

There are two main factors that affect implementation of KM, organizational culture and technology.

Organizational Culture

A pattern of shared necessary assumptions that a group has learned in order to solve their problems of outer adaption and inner integration, is a right way to be considered and therefore, to be taught to new group members as an appropriate method to look, understand, think and feel about those problems (Schein 1992:12) is a definition of organizational culture. In other words, it is a framework to perform different tasks within an organization. Culture plays a vital role in the KM initiative. Studies finding causes of KM program breakdown (Barth, 2000; KPMG, 2000) stated that organizational culture is one of the most important barriers to success than others (Tuggle, 2000). Organizational culture is a most crucial factor to create value through leveraging knowledge assets that add to organization's ability (Cole-Gomolski, 1997; Ruggles, 1998). If an organization's culture is aligned with KM then it can implement and use KM for their decision making process.

When a group or individual dynamically comes in contact with each other in an organization, it leads to the creation of knowledge that can be mobilized outside the boundaries of organization. For example, a new manufacturing process can fetch changes in supplier's manufacturing method that can lead to a new way of product and process or method enhancement in the organization. Knowledge can be transferred outside from the organization and knowledge from more than one organization interacts together to develop new knowledge (Badaracco, 1991; Wikstrom & Normann, 1994; Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995; Inkpen, 1996). According to Krogh, G. V., Ichijo, K., & Nonaka, I. (2000) organization's physical, emotional and virtual factors are responsible for knowledge creation. An obstacle to knowledge creation is, when individuals will unable to handle new situation and information.

Organizational culture focuses on sharing of knowledge and fear of innovation as well (Microsoft Corporation, 1999). Knowledge sharing can be hindered due to employee's different skills, academic and technical backgrounds, languages and expectations. Language difference can cause improper verbal and written communication. An organization should allow their employees to experiment in order to learn from previous failures. Organization must build friendly environment where employees should not be afraid of committing mistakes and must encourage sharing of lessons learned in order to avoid mistakes from being repeated (Ndlela and Toit, 2001).


Organizations must have good IT infrastructure that supports collaboration of knowledge workers and data repositories, support computer based tools for conferencing. Furthermore, organizations should have well developed technology that can be aligned with knowledge management. Improper alignment of IT and KM can lead to implementation gap. But it is really difficult for technology structure to fully support all KM aspects, technology is a critical aspect that allows and facilitates many KM processes and initiatives (Alazmi & Zairi, 2003; Artail, 2006; Davenport et al., 1998; Hariharan, 2005; Hasanali, 2002; Wong, 2005). Hansali said although technology is important but it has to be used as a tool to support KM initiatives and not as the source of initiative. If technology tools such as intranet, virtual communities of practices could be formed, that can add up to the scope and timeliness of knowledge sharing (Ardichvili, Maurer, Li, Wentling, & Stuedemann, 2005). Finally, the architecture of information system within an organization that wishes to implement KM need to provide tools that support integration of all organizational computer components.

2. Knowledge capture

Knowledge capture is a term related to knowledge creation in an organization. According to Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995), an ongoing cyclic process of socialisation, externalisation, combination and internalisation is known as knowledge creation. It is really vital process in knowledge management. According to Manasco, (1996), Knowledge management supports knowledge creation by utilising some mechanism, this mechanism identifies, captures and avail the knowledge. To do this it is important to find what knowledge has to be captured, why it has to be captured, what method is required to capture, how it has to be captured, how it has to be stored, how it can be retrieve and what are the ways it can be used. After answering all the above questions there is a chance in increase of KM initiative's overall success (McCampbell et al., 1999). Knowledge is created when individuals interacts among themselves or with others and with their environment. In knowledge creation when individual and environment interact with each other, changes occur at both the levels, individual influences by themselves and by the environment with which they interact. Knowledge creation within an organization consists of three elements a) the SECI process (socialisation, externalisation, combination and internalisation), it defines the knowledge creation by conversion among tacit and explicit knowledge. b) ba, shared framework for creating knowledge. c) Knowledge assets such as inputs and outputs in knowledge creation. The above three elements need to interact among each other to form a kind of knowledge spiral that captures knowledge.

The knowledge assets (input and output) of an organisation are shared in ba, but tacit knowledge which is held by individuals is transformed and improved by spiral of knowledge that consists of socialisation, externalisation, combination and internalisation.

Garza and Ibbs (1992), suggested four techniques of knowledge capture, each is for capturing dissimilar types of knowledge:-

  • Examining public knowledge:- it enables capturing of knowledge in order to familiarise people to understand the current thoughts and ideas on a particular subject.
  • Interviews:- they are of two kinds structured and unstructured. Unstructured interviews enable knowledge holder to explain liberally their feelings about the key elements in their work. Structured interviews consists all the questions that of interest to knowledge capturer. In this the interviewee has to give answers of all those questions.
  • Observation: this technique is used to capture knowledge by watching some live incident.
  • Induction:- it allows to identify the gaps in existing rules and to analyse the cause of it by studying the case.

According to me there are some other knowledge capturing methods that vary from one organization to the other, because the knowledge structure can differ between different organizations with in same industry. But still the above basic techniques will always be a building block for knowledge capture in any type of organization.

3. KM as a tool for supporting innovation

Knowledge management and innovation are related to each other. Organizations have always searched for new and improved methods of doing business to acquire competitiveness. Organizations create and exploit knowledge in order to achieve advantage over their competitors this is what we call 'innovation'. According to Roger (1995), innovation is "an idea, practice, or object that is perceived as new by an individual or other unit of adoption.". Innovation can also be defined as a decision making process by evolving change in technology, process and management approach. (Walker and Hampson 2003b, p238). Basically, the term innovation depends upon knowledge development. The transformation of one type of knowledge into other is known as knowledge creativity. Suppose if there is any knowledge involved in technology improvement it should be documented. According to Amidon (1997) there are two important aspects in KM as an approach to support innovation, first, knowledge is the main component of innovation and second, activities involved in managing knowledge flow and its use. Knowledge and knowledge workers are the intellectual capital of an organization. A company's KM performance is directly related to its intellectual capital, which affects its innovation (Wong, 2005).

According to Egbu et al. (2001a), any organization that wants to gain competitive advantage needs to be innovative. Method related to the development of new product is called product innovation where as new ideas involved in the deployment of new and efficient method of production is called process innovation. The efforts related to innovation are to find, identify and deployment of new technologies, products and processes. These efforts are documented and available as information. This creation of information involves knowledge evolution. New knowledge motivates organizations into new kind of business in more rewarding industry, when knowledge management is influenced positively by findings of innovation.

According to (Harari, 1994; Nonaka, 1994; West, 1992), organization that provides a framework to improve knowledge of their individuals is more likely to face present rapidly changing market and to innovate in the context where it wants to compete and do investment. Managers are responsible to underline their individuals' skills and experiences which in turn evolve creativity. KM enables knowledge worker to contribute in facing new problems that requires new approaches of finding solutions and demand for innovative approaches. Today companies are interested in applying new logical approaches derived from contributed effort of KM and knowledge worker to give a better innovative way of success to their business.

4. Difference between Knowledge Management and Knowledge Management Systems

Knowledge management

According to (Myers, 1996; O'Leary, 1998; O'Leary, Kuokka, & Plant, 1997)., knowledge management is a process of transforming organizational knowledge obtained from available sources and associating human resource to that knowledge. In other words, KM aims to identify, create, collect, transfer and reprocess of knowledge to help organization to compete (Devedzic, 1999, von Krough, 1999). KM involves managing of knowledge according to organization's benefit. KM enhances production and production process of an organization.

Knowledge will always available within organization but proper management of knowledge is of great importance for organization to achieve success. This is the reason why companies
are using systematic approach for managing knowledge. According to KPMG (1998a), the aims of KM are,
To improve response time,
To improve decision making process by following KM initiatives,
To increase productivity and profitability,
Developing different business opportunities,
Cost diminution,
Staff retention and
Increase share value.

For example, KM can be used to develop or gather resources such as design, business, learning and training (Liao, 2003). KM also includes organizational learning, organizational memory and management (Thomas et al., 2001). KM can be viewed as an umbrella consisting of organizational learning that involves capturing and utilizing knowledge to create new knowledge, organizational memory that stores organizational knowledge in database repository and management that involves the management of knowledge to enhance its success by top management. To make knowledge serve the organization continuously, it has to be captured, compiled, stored and shared among human resource.

Knowledge management system

KMS is a type of system that automates the process of creation, collection, organization and exploitation of knowledge. In general the aim of KMS is to automate the KM processes and create knowledge out of knowledge. KMS is a combined form of IT and KM. According to Abdullah et al. , (2002), KMS is a special kind of system comprised with information technologies and communication technologies, that automates KM processes (creation, collection, organization and exploitation of knowledge) by interacting with computer systems of the organization. KM system consists of knowledge repositories, intranets, web portals and decision making tools by which individuals can access the organizational knowledge (Ernst and Young, 2001). KMS must integrate all computer components within entire organization to provide its full feature. If the entire organization's computer components are not integrated properly with KMS, it will lead to implementation gap due to which organization will not be able to create new knowledge by exploiting the existing one and hence the organization cannot remain innovative. Finally, I can say that KM is a concept and KMS is used for implementing this concept.

The role of organisational memory in KM

Knowledge is very important for an organization. Managing that knowledge is really crucial for an organization to achieve success and to be competitive. KM is a concept used for managing knowledge. Today organizations are really interested to know what they know from their past experiences. Organizations forget what they have done, how they have done and why they have done it in the past. Organizational memory keeps the track of it and shares it among individuals within organization. Organizational memory stores and magnifies knowledge by creating, capturing, accessing and reprocessing knowledge of their employees. According to Stein and Zwass (), the process by which knowledge can be brought from past to apply it on present activities, resulting in each level of organizational effectiveness. This organizational effectiveness ultimately improves the performance of organization. Walsh, J. P. and G. R. said, organizational memory is information stored in some database that comes from organisation's history and can be used to make present decisions.

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