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It is inevitable that the business performance of any single organization will encounter problems in the course of its operation. These problems could stem from a variety of sources such as the employee, the management, or the business system itself which has been prevalent in the operation of the organization. The case study which has been presented for the purpose of this research illustrates the situation of FitBar, a business which is involved in the wholesale of health snack bars. Just like in any other businesses, they also encounter a variety of problems which can be safely assumed as because of the management or the business system in the company. While the problems have been stipulated in the case, it can be seen that the problems stem from the knowledge management aspect of the company which will then be discussed in detail in the succeeding parts of this paper.
1. What would you suggest to the CEO of FitBar are the key knowledge management issues that need to be addressed?
The case of the company which was presented shows that the company is indeed facing a big problem as brought about by knowledge management issues which are not properly addressed and are not given enough attention by the management that is why these issues are getting worse as time passes by and affecting more lives in the operation of the business. Theses knowledge management issues are said to have rooted the now more complex problems which the company is experiencing not only in terms of its business systems but also with regards to employee relations as stipulated in the case. Furthermore, the company acknowledges the fact that capturing the best practices in the corporate world and corporate information will enable them to work more efficiently and would direct all their efforts towards the success of their operation. Nonetheless, although aware of that fact, the company seems to have missing aspects in this field forcing them towards being unsuccessful in most of their corporate activities. Their current technology systems and some employee policies are not working for the benefit of the majority in the organization. The researcher will then attempt to identify what is the key knowledge management issues which the authorities need to address immediately in order to provide a solution to the problem confronting their operations.
When we speak of knowledge management, it means that we talk of an organizational theory in the workplace which reflects the company's set of specific strategies and measures which ae ultimately geared towards identifying, creating, representing, distributing, and enabling the management's adoption of experiences and insights which were brought about in the workplace. These insights and experiences shall include the practices or processes which were related in the operation of the business (Alavi & Leidner, 1999). Change will be constant in the next millennium, with the advent of various technological advancements; more and more aspects of the company will be affected (Thierauf, 1999). With all of these, it is said that knowledge management will be at the forefront of the operation of every company. The problems should be given a necessary emphasis in every business because it can greatly affect the success of the operation of the organization.
There were a number of knowledge management issues which were stipulated in the problem stated as being experienced by the company in the course of its operations. These issues were the roots of the problems facing the organization and calls for immediate attention to potentially be given the necessary and sustainable solution. One of the key knowledge management issue addressed in the case is the inefficiency of the distribution of information in the workplace. It is a given fact that information is very vital in the operation of the business. In the case of FitBar, however, there is a lacking effort in terms of improving and delivering an efficient communication practice within the workplace. This knowledge management issue triggers another problem which is the confusion in the office as to where particular information is available for retrieval. For example, when a staff is in need to know the sales and other relevant information for a specific period of time, they ae already confused as to which department is responsible for such and which can be able to provide them the needed information. It can be realized that there is actually no inter-departmental sharing of the relevant and necessary information. Because of such, most employees lack the necessary knowledge regarding the basics of their operation and when the time comes that they need to know a particular thing regarding how the business is doing, they do not know where this information is available because the information system is designed poorly and inefficiently.
Another knowledge management issue which was addressed in the case study is the problem with regards to organizational structure, which as the case puts it, makes the staff frustrated. In the conduct of operation of an organization, organizational structure is perhaps one of the most essential things as it provides the backbone of business performance of the company. In the case, it has been mentioned that there is a problem regarding the materials or the source sof relevant information in the office. There ae many materials available in which the staff could be able to extract all the data which are needed. However, the problem is that because of too many sources of information, some are just duplicated, containing the same data. With that, the sources are becoming irrelevant for usage of the employees.
There is also a problem which is regarding the increasing number of turn-over annually in the workforce. More and more staff are leaving every year from their post in work. The exit of these staffs can be attributed to the fact that there is indeed lack in efficiency in managing the organization that some of the employees are left not contented and some are just being inefficient with their duties at the job. The rate of turn-over is even higher with regards to the sales staff which is then attributed to the fact that the commission among them is based on individual sales target. And because individual efforts are recognized and not the efforts of the whole team, there is a tight competition between the employees and sometimes it leads into being unhealthy and results into dissatisfaction. These issues regarding knowledge management in FitBar should be given immediate attention before it even leads int worse situations. The CEO and the general management should be very much aware of this situation and provide a sustainable solution before the problem gets even bigger.
2. What type of knowledge management initiatives do you suggest the CEO of FitBar should undertake?
In order to potentially eradicate or even just alleviate the problems brought about by the abovementioned situations, it is just true that the CEO and the whole management should dedicate conscious efforts into provision and implementation of knowledge management initiatives with the goal of improving the performance of the organization and the efficiency of its workforce. Once properly executed, these knowledge management initiative will surely bring FitBar into a good position in the market as it improves its internal functioning especially tjsoe matters related to information systems and in the motivation of the general workforce.
One of the suggestions which I can recommend for the CEO of FitBar is that they should improve their information system in the company to avoid conflict and confusion as to where, or what departments, can particular information be requested or can be extracted. There should be on dedicated department toi manage all the information, to establish an extensive data base system to store all data and once these data are needed, the employee wil approach only that department without the need to bother others who are not actually concerned with the needed information. For instance, the establishment of Sales Information department can prove to be helpful because they will be the designated department to rake care of information regarding product sales, market trend, and other data relevant to the operation. With the establishment of such, when the employee is in need of particular information, there will be no more need to request for the information from other departments, just to the department specifically dedicated to perform such function. This can also be the solution to the problem in which the employees feel that they are either having difficulty in accessing information or they are overwhelmed. The difficulty is particularly attributed to the fcat that they have to consult a lot of people to obtain the information, while the overwhelming was attributed to the fact that there have been notable duplications in terms of the sources of the information.
It ahs been said that one of the many objectives of knowledge management is to be able to "arrange, orchestrate, and organize an environment in which people are involved and facilitated to apply, develop, share, combine, and consolidate knowledge" (Van der Spek & Kingma, n.d.). Such holds and calls for the need to create business processes and working environment that support smart ways of working. The knowledge management initiative needs a dedicated focus and a clear direction and not multiple aspects of operation. It calls for consolidated knowledge or resources of information and not multiple and duplicated sources like what have been happening with FitBar. With that, it is indeed true that the management should think of a way in which they can minimize the number of people or departments in which information regarding the business is shared and stored. This could help the employees have an easier access to the data because there is no need to get it from multiple sources.
Furthermore, to address the problem of the company regarding the high rate of turn over because of the increasing number of employees exiting the company, the firm should also rethink its way of giving out commissions to the employees. As mentioned, the commission is based on individual efforts and not on the team, which drives competition and leads to dissatisfaction. I would suggest that the bonus scheme or the giving out of commissions should be on a scheme based on how much is earned by the whole team without having to focus on individual achievements. By doing such, it is possible that there will be more team work because they have a common goal rather than working with goals going separately because each have to prove something on their own rather than having it proven buy the efforts of the whole team. The management should then decide a pay-out of bonus scheme which is based on the group's performance to avoid competition within the team. One of the key focus of a successful knowledge management is the intellectual asset management or improving the company's intellectual capital, which in any case refers to the employees of the company (Skyrme, 1997). With that, it is just right that the efforts of the employees for the business be recognized. However, recognition should entail that everyone can be compensated fairly and not just focused on specific individuals. This can be carried out by recognizing the efforts of the whole than just rewarding the efforts of the specific parts. Such can surely bring a better working environment and a more efficient workforce dedicated to their jobs because they are ware that they are rewarded fairly without having to compete unhealthily with their coworkers.
Alavi, Maryam, Leidner, Dorothy; Knowledge Management Systems: Issues, Challenges, and Benefits; 1999
Skyrme, David J.; Knowledge Management: Making Sense of an Oxymoron; 1997
Thierauf, Robert J.; Knowledge Management Systems for Business; Quorum Books; 1999
Van der Spek, Rob., Kingma, Jan; Achieving Successful Knowledge Management Initiatives