Xerox knowledge sharing culture thorugh grassroots efforts
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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016
Xerox Corporation has implemented new knowledge management (KM) system to maintain a centralized system across the organization. By sharing knowledge through a knowledge base, Eureka and Docushare, employees can share knowledge and retrieve it according to their needs. Thus, this information can be updated in real time so that it can be accessed straight away throughout the organization. Still this is tested on 25,000 employees and they are planning to implement for all the 90,000 employees. This report performs a knowledge audit on knowledge gaps and needs in the organization using tool like Gap analysis and SWOT analysis.
Purpose of this report is creating a knowledge report through knowledge auditing on the external factors affecting an organization. It focuses on internal culture and organizational structure and knowledge workers and leadership importance. Moreover, it sheds light on the knowledge audit tools like gap analysis and SWOT analysis and measure knowledge gap and needs.
Current Knowledge Position of Xerox coporation
Current knowledge position of Xerox Corporation is that, they have implemented two knowledge management systems, Eureka and DocShare. Eureka is used by service representatives to share knowledge in a portal so that others can use it for resolving issues. For instance, employees faced problems when they came across undocumented problems of the products during their calls with the customers. Resolving it would take a long time and once the resolution as given to the customer that knowledge in not documented as there is no means to share it. Due to tools like Eureka, when employees face that same issue, would search the knowledge base for a solution in the search engine. Because of KM, there is a significant cost reduction and encourages employees to use the KM.
Purpose of the organization
Xerox Corporation is a private sector organization. The main goal of the private sector organizations is to keep their stakeholders happy by making profits and also by maintaining the position constantly ahead of other competing companies in the global market. The goal is to grab the opportunities as they come by and make profits from them. The funding for private sectors is usually done by their stakeholders, these funding is used to improve the efficiency and the growth of an organization. However, one of the important aspects of the companies like Xerox is to attain a balance on both short term and long term profits. For private sectors, chief executive officers (CEO) would be in charge for building visions to the company. The CEO would be an experienced person in all fields and would be a key person for the success of the company (Debowski 2006).
The main purpose of Xerox Corporation is to become a significant part of the world’s leading technologies and services in business process and document management. Their main aim is to offer customers the freedom to focus on what matters them most: their actual business. They do their best to strengthen and improve their leadership in document, technology and services. Like all other enterprises, they thrive to succeed through satisfied customers, deliver quality and excellence in their products and services, make sure they get premium returns on assets and use technology to improve market leadership. They operate their organization in ways through which economies grow, stakeholders benefit and customers satisfied. They believe that these three factors which are also known as triple bottom line are best thing for business success
The knowledge environment in which the organization exists – external context
It is a known fact that companies will develop many new changes when it is let out to external and new environment. This external environment has introduced new factors like globalization and technological changes which introduces new threats as well as good prospects in the global market (Debowski 2006).
Companies like Xerox has gained a lot of opportunities through globalization as it brought a lot of access throughout the world, however it also causes damage and threats as globalization would introduce other companies to their home market which would create a rivalry and competition. Globalization will introduce options and choices to customers, for instance customer would have an option to check various prices on the same type of products and services provided by different organizations. Customer can go through the reviews of the services and products on net or magazines before selecting it. And it wouldn’t matter if the supplier is in other part of the world, as he could be contacted by a telephone to check with the prices (Debowski 2006).
Therefore globalization is both curse and a boon. It is a threat because it will bring many companies to the market which means clients are exposed to various services and products. So there is a good likelihood that customer may not stick to one brand or to one service only. Due to globalization we cannot trust the reliability of a customer. Since clients have wide range of choices, companies will struggle to be more inventive and creative to compete with the competitor’s services and prices (Debowski 2006).
Due to this threats and pressure from the global market, a company would face another external factor, stakeholder’s pressure. There will be constant involvement of stakeholders with their demands to improve profits in order to raise the bar of their market shares. Moreover, technology and government also became major factors too. Since the company is expected to meet their client and stakeholder’s demands it has to go through technological change in order to compete with the other organizations. Xerox Corporation has seen the growing need of knowledge management (KM) in 1995 and implemented KM to increase its customer service and financial performance (Debowski 2006).
The organizational structure including the internal knowledge culture
According to Fink (2004 p.141) knowledge culture ‘is the most important value for the implementation of knowledge management because one important aspect of knowledge management is having culture that fosters collaboration and sharing’. Knowledge culture was implemented by Dan Holtshouse, director of corporate strategy, who had a hunch that knowledge management would be an extension of their document management. The company has developed tools like Eureka and Docushare which helped in sharing their intellectual capital. Eureka is used to allow Xerox’s services to develop and reuse intellectual capital among its service reps all over the world. Usually these reps make one million service calls every month and sometimes they might come across the problems among their clients that had not seen in the documentation. To find a resolution for such issues would take time and even if they do solve there was no option of sharing it to others. So a new knowledge base was developed where the reps can share their resolution to the new problems which will help other employees to solve their client problems quickly. Docushare, which is somewhat similar to Eureka, has a knowledge base which shares the documents among the scientists working on the same project. This culture in internal organization has developed a communication which can be linked to all over the company. This communication develops directness, integrity and a culture of sharing. Knowledge culture will bring work staff together by sharing knowledge (Debowski 2006).
In order to create and develop knowledge culture, organizational structure is very important. It describes how the powers and responsibilities are dispersed in an organization and also how knowledge should distributed so that the employees could easily adapt it (Debowski 2006).
Knowledge worker is someone who works with his head rather than his hands in order to produce an effective result. Usually they resolve a problematic issue or situation with their own personal knowledge. To reshape their present knowledge, knowledge workers work on new information, by proper research, they will learn new skills and use them to solve problematic situations, develop new ideas or services and products. They usually work with their brain power rather than physical power and they use various techniques to resolve issues and select the simple and easiest method for the employees and they also have the right to choose which method to be implemented an issue (Debowski 2006).
As we discussed before the service technicians in Xerox usually makes 1 million calls per month to maintain their products. In these calls, employees sometimes face problems that they had not seen before. So these issues are resolved by the knowledge workers. These problems could create a lengthy downtime for clients due to this Xerox could lose money and clients. So knowledge workers use their heads to resolve such problems, they will make sure that such problems are not repeated again (Debowski 2006).
Knowledge worker may have various forms of organizational knowledge (Debowski 2006)
Know what: Knowledge gained from various sources, systems and business process that found in an organization (Hislop 2009)
Know who: Knowledge of the identity of various groups, organization units and people who act as knowledge source (Hislop 2009)
Knowledge how: The application of knowledge runs complex tasks like researching, developing and testing (Hislop 2009)
Know why: The capability to analyze and find an appropriate solution (Hislop 2009)
Know where: The ability to find and analyze correct resources for the problems (Hislop 2009)
Knowledge leaders are very important for an organization as they are the basic foundation for knowledge management in a company. These leaders set goals, support their staff and provide vision to change theoretical knowledge into practical i.e. in reality. The roles and tasks of the knowledge leader will be decided upon the company’s condition. An effective leadership can bring a huge impact on easy learning methods among employees and knowledge management activities in companies. It is assumed that a good leadership would help contributing towards the success of the organization (Debowski 2006).
Knowledge leaders are required throughout the organization and it is not something that can be seen only in one person. A company needs many people who can offer various types of leadership qualities which could help in the performance of the organization. For that reason a knowledge leader should have basic attributes like
Strategic visionary: The goals of knowledge management should be explained by the knowledge leaders so that the staff could recognize their roles in attaining those goals (Debowski 2006).
Motivator: Knowledge leaders should encourage others in contributing their skills to achieve the goals and also persuade others to take leadership roles (Hislop 2009).
Communicator: Should be a good communicator by developing formal and informal links across the organization. Must implement channels of communication like individual written formats, web site updates and meetings (Hislop 2009)
Coach, mentor and model: Knowledge leader can gather resources that can help the people to achieve knowledge. So by acting as coach and mentor, people can achieve skills form knowledge leader (Hislop 2009).
Technology has always played a major role in an organization. It will bring a huge difference in the company in performance wise and also growth wise. In Xerox Corporation, we can see that the director of corporate strategy has seen knowledge management system as tool to improve the performance of the organization and also to provide a good customer satisfaction. The implementation of the new system has become a strong pillar of the organization (Laguna & Velarde 2000).
Knowledge management system (KMS) is ‘a practice adding actionable elements to the information; by capturing the tacit knowledge and converting it to explicit knowledge; by flittering, storing and dissemination explicit knowledge and by creating testing new knowledge.’ In this aspect, tacit knowledge consists of viewpoints, perceptions and beliefs etc. On the other hand, explicit knowledge consists of rules, objects or equations and therefore it can be communicated to others. KMS provides storage which can be retrieved and also analysis of explicit knowledge. The main aim of KMS is to present users with easy to access computer assisted platforms that helps them to share knowledge (Laguna & Velarde 2000).
In Xerox, the Eureka and Docushare fall under the category of KMS. These technologies are user for sharing knowledge. Service reps work hard to find a solution for a problem and then they would share this resolution in a portal where other user can retrieve it as all the systems are connected through a network. So all updates in KMS will be updated in real time where employees would have regular updates to build up their skills. Since the Xerox Corporation has built up a portal which is integrated as a cartelized system as it will be linked up with the organization intranet. So this type of technology would come under content and business management. This system is a significant part of KMS were users can add and retrieve knowledge form the knowledge management portal (Debowski 2006).
Knowledge resources and knowledge-sharing practices
Knowledge sharing and repositories are the key concepts of any knowledge management system. Knowledge repositories generally look web based index which offers access to identified knowledge sources in the organization and beyond. For example repository may have (Hislop 2009)
Links to organisational and external sources
Search for the services which could be helpful for the users to resolve an issue
Referenced material and services
Frequently asked question
Real- life examples
A portal where a user can share solution
. Though all these features not necessarily present in a one repository but its design needs to reflect user needs and the knowledge that is important to the organization. The repository service which is used in Xerox is Eureka and Docushare. This system helps the service reps to search the whole database to for solutions which is already shared by knowledge workers or other members. This search engine will help the staff members to get various types of information and it will reshape their present knowledge. Moreover, Docushare which use to be an internal tool for scientists to collaborate their data has been moved outside the science area, where scientists are working with engineers and designers share with business plans and market. Therefore sharing knowledge through repositories have become a culture in every organization in order to help and encourage the high involvement of the employees as they are responsible to create the knowledge base and to use it (Debowski 2006).
When we classify knowledge a resource, there has to be need for that resource. Therefore, identifying knowledge needs would help an organization greatly. According to Gottschalk (2007 p, 111) there are three types to identify the knowledge needs
Problem decision: This method mainly deals with identifying the problems that knowledge workers have, solution they could find and decision they take to find solutions.
Critical Success Factors: This method mainly deals with identifying the specific factors that cause success.
Ends Mean analysis: This technique usually deals with identifying and specifying the external demands and expectation to good and services form firm.
The main goal of knowledge needs is to achieve goals and objective by the users, it recognizes what an exact knowledge is required by the user. Organization future plan is developed due to knowledge needs.
According to Srinivasan ( 2004 p.119) Knowledge gap occurs due to the common mistaken impression committed by many managers and service providing firms that they know what clients want but in reality they really don’t. Other mistakes would also add up once knowledge gap arises. This mistake could happen due to many reasons like wrong hiring of staff, lack of proper training and wrong facilities. In order to close this gap or at least reduce it, mangers and the staff need to require detail knowledge on what customer desires and then response needs to be built thorough service operating system.
Knowledge gap is influenced by
Research orientation: A business attitude towards performing customers’ research
Upward communication: The flow of information form frontline personal to upper parts of the industry.
Levels of management: The structure of the organization and also the hierarchy of the levels between customers to top management.
What type of knowledge does the organization use?
How will the organisation use each type of that knowledge?
What different source does organisation have to obtain the knowledge?
Apart from the organisation, who else would be using the knowledge?
Is there any knowledge that is accessed by some users only?
It is known fact that a firm has many types of knowledge, so it is necessary to know how this knowledge is divided in an organisation and how many types are there for the staff members and customers.
It is important to know how this knowledge is utilised by the organisation. For example there might be some knowledge there is restricted for specific users.
Knowledge can be obtained from many sources mainly internally and externally. So it is important to understand these sources.
Normally in any organisations, knowledge is shared to it employees but there is a possibility that it can be shared with its suppliers or with other organisation too
In the second justification, we discussed about the restrictions to the knowledge, so if there are any restrictions then it is important to know why.
Knowledge Audit tools
According to Nabb (2007 p.94) knowledge audit is ‘all important first major phase, stage or step of KM initiative. It is used to provide a sound investigation into organization’s health.’ Knowledge audit is a detection, authentication and confirmation tool providing fact finding, investigation and reports. This comprises a study of organizational information and knowledge policies and practices. Different types of knowledge audit tools
Gap Analysis: A gap between ideal and existing knowledge environment is known as gap analysis. Gaps may stop the flow of creativity, block opportunities for organization improvement or damage technology implementation. It can be reduced if a review is performed on existing knowledge in the organization, like where it is, who has it and which tasks that knowledge requires to be used in (Debowski 2006).
Concept map: This tool is used to visualise the transfer of knowledge between at least two persons. Visualising in a form of maps is an excellent concept of representing and communicating knowledge (Debowski 2006).
SWOT analysis: SWOT mean strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats involved in a project or in an organization. For instance, strengths define the internal attributes of the staff or the company that are helpful to accomplish a goal or objective. Weakness defines the internal attributes of the person or the company that are a threat to accomplishing the goal. Opportunities and threats define the external conditions of which could be helpful or harmful to achieve the objective (Debowski 2006).
Exit Interviews: When staffs of a company are leaving, then they might be taking knowledge along with them in their heads. So exit interviews help the organization to document their knowledge by interview them so that can be utilized by the company (Debowski 2006).
Storytelling: This is an important tool in knowledge sharing; it basically allows the user to share their knowledge with emotions and context. However, these stories are not fairly tales but stores told about what’s going inside of a company (Debowski 2006).
Eureka and Docushare had a huge positive effect on Xerox Corporation as it has a huge community of knowledge sharing initiatives of 25,000 employees. Since it has been a success it is recommended they start it to integrate in all of its branches so that its 90,000 employees could also use it for everyday jobs as it would bring an enormous difference in customer satisfaction and financial performance.
Since KM is new culture that will spread in coming days of Xerox, it is necessary to train employees properly and prepare them for the new technology. Since 25,000 are already trained and adapted well with Eureka and Docushare, it is recommended these teams should be dispersed all over the world to various Xerox branches so that they can support the new employees in their training program.
Moreover is necessary that the supervisors should take up the roles of knowledge leaders as it’s their responsibility to coach, mentor and support their teams and other staff members. And it recommended that these leaders encourage staff to communicate freely with them if they are facing issues in training programs. It is necessary to audit knowledge for gap analysis since new change management might increase or decrease the production of work. Therefore gap analysis and SWOT analysis should be conducted regularly to audit the knowledge.
Knowledge leaders should look for knowledge need for their employees, because implementation of KM may create problems for knowledge workers who are new to this system. So identifying their problems and providing resolution for problematic situation should be done.
Finally we can say that when KM is being implemented all over the organization it is important to consider all factors like knowledge needs, knowledge gaps and using knowledge audit tools would help the company to work towards a concrete strategy to help it get into a path of success.
These report discuses about the importance of knowledge management in an organization like Xerox Corporation. This company had a hunch that KM would be a natural extension of documenting management. Therefore they developed a KM where employees could use to share knowledge to other. KM has become a centralized system in Xerox where employees who found a new resolution to an unknown problem would document it in KM web based portal called Eureka. So when other employees face that same issue would search the knowledge base for a solution. Due to this there was a significant cost reduction and encourages employees to use the KM.
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