According to Johnson, the operational definition of strategic conversation is: "the frequency with which intentional reference is made to the organisations resources, strategic plans and goals, to guide formal and informal strategy-related decision-making communication among staff members.â€¦"
Put in simpler terms, strategic conversation takes place when the stakeholders of an organisation communicate about a specific problem and a solution to that problem. For example the position of the organisation in terms of its future market position, and how this position will be reached. (Strategic-Conversation.com, Nd.)
Why use Strategic Conversation?
When considering the benefits of using strategic conversation within an organisation it can be divided into two broad categories namely, benefit for the organisation and benefits for the members of the organisation. The organisation benefits in the sense that the conversation helps in the development of purpose and direction for the future, while the members benefit from developing leadership qualities as they are required to think from a management point of view. Strategic conversation can then be used in planning as well as brainstorming activities relating to the strategic future of the organisation; it can be used to maintain these plans set out; and it can also be used to solve problems and develop relationships within the organisation. (Neha's Blog, 2008 and Strategic-Conversation.com, Nd.)
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How to use Strategic Conversation?
How to use strategic conversation will differ from organisation to organisation, but a number of steps can be followed as a guideline, in order to ensure that effective and efficient strategic conversation takes place. One of the first steps to be followed is to determine what the outcome of the conversation should be and who should be involved in the process, this automatically introduces the next step of informing members, where a broad overview is given to the determined people involved, so that they can have an idea on both the background and the future of this approach. Collecting information from inside and outside the organisation is then also a very important step that has to be taken, as this will allow the organisation to create an outline which will act as a guiding mechanism for the conversation that will follow. Filling in the specifics and other essential information into the outline is another step that is import for strategic conversation, which can be followed by a review and adjustment process to keep the conversation up to date. (Manning, 2002)
Another approach on how to use strategic conversation is suggested by Michael (2009), which is also defined in terms of a number of steps. The strategic issue at hand needs to be defined, together with some research regarding the background of the issue. This will be followed by getting key stakeholders together, so that a clear picture can be sketched on the current position of the organisation, as well as a vision for where the organisation should be in the future. The stakeholders involved should then identify, and agree on the mission or the "how to", to fulfil the vision that has been set out.
When to use Strategic Conversation?
According to Manning (2002), Strategic conversation is "both an ongoing event and a product", and the process of strategic conversations can then be used in a number of ways. Because organisations operate in an ever changing environment, strategic conversation is needed to stay in touch with these changes that happen, both in an external and internal environment. It however does not stop there, as it should also be used to learn from and adapt to these changes that occurred. Strategic conversation can then further be used when the organisation need to generate new ideas or options, on which actions for the future can be based.
When not to use Strategic Conversation?
There are a number of questions that can be asked to determine whether or not strategic conversation should be used or not, for example: "What are senior managers talking about? Who is involved? What is the quality of that conversation?" (Manning, 2002)
These questions allow a person from outside the organisation to determine if strategic conversation will work or not for a specific organisation. The answers gathered from these question gives a good indication on who takes part in the conversation, and if this includes only top management, strategic management should not be used as too narrow input can be gathered. Similarly the content of the conversation will determine if it is a good idea to continue with the conversation, as negative conversation will create a negative attitude throughout the organisation as a whole. (Manning, 2002)
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What is Metadata?
According to Namahn (Nd.), "Metadata is generally defined as 'descriptive information about information' and refers to any data used to support the identification, description and location of an information object, such as a document. Simply put, metadata is the collection of labels that describe a piece of information."
Metadata can then be described as data that is used to describe other data and information, so that it can be organised according to a structure, which in return will allow that data and information to be found more easily, to be used in the end.
Why use Metadata?
In answering the question why an organisation should use metadata as a tool for knowledge management, a number of reasons can be supplied such as: by using metadata, an organisation knows what resources are available to them in their databases, and how it can be useful in solving specific problems. Metadata thus forms the link between the resource and the person seeking to use it. Metadata can also be used for security and control purposes, where certain information can be restricted to only be visible to certain members of the organisation, like for example financial information, which should not be seen by all the members of the organisation. It (metadata) can be used for management purposes and preservation of information and knowledge, because by adding tags to that information and knowledge, it allows the system to organise it, and store it, so that it can be found and used later. (Taylor, 2003)
How to use Metadata?
According to Taylor (2003), an organisation can make use of metadata in a number of ways. They (the organisation) can assign meta tags to the content that are stored on their website by already including these tags in the coding of the website, allowing a search function to retrieve these tags. Metadata tags can also be linked to the database that contains the organisation`s resources, and be displayed on a separate web page which can then be accessed and searched for relevant information. Another way of using metadata is to assign a metadata record to every record within the database, which is displayed at the same time as the record.
When to use Metadata?
Metadata can be used when an organisation wants to describe what the relationships between the different resources are that exist within the organisation, what the integrity and quality of these resources are and how the resources are presented and used, by members of the organisation but also by stakeholders from outside. (West and Hess, 2001)
When not to use Metadata?
Metadata should not be used as a tool for knowledge management when the organisation does not want to involve the outside stakeholders of that organisation. The input of the different stakeholders plays a vital role in the creation of accurate and informative metadata, which in return will increase access to the needed resources. (West and Hess, 2001) It is also essential that metadata are set up to be interoperable between different systems so that sharing of resources can be increased, so if and organisation does not intend to do so, metadata should not be used as tool for knowledge management. If for example, the organisation decided to upgrade to a newer system, and the metadata assigned to their resources are not interoperable, they will have to redo the metadata assigning process, which takes up time and money. (Taylor, 2003)
What is Crowd sourcing?
According to Howe & Robinson (in Brabham 2008), Crowdsourcing can be defined as: "the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call. This can take the form of peer-production (when the job is performed collaboratively), but is also often undertaken by sole individuals. The crucial prerequisite is the use of the open call format and the large network of potential laborers".
Put in simpler terms, crowdsourcing takes place when an organisation has a problem that needs a solution. The problem is set to a larger number of people instead of only to the employees of that organisation, in order to receive a wider variety of possible solutions.
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Why use Crowd sourcing?
If crowd sourcing is considered in terms of the possible advantages it holds Kuran, et al. (2009) suggests that one of the possible advantages is that the quality of the work produced lies in the "wisdom of the crowd" which makes it more objective than when a single person had to do the work. Also the organisation, who requests a solution, gets a wide variety of possible solutions from the crowd, instead of the few that would have been generated internally. (Yang, et al. 2008) For an individual in the crowd the advantage lie in the fact that he/she get the opportunity to be creative and entrepreneurial at the same time, depending on the task that has been posed. (Kuran, et al. 2009)
Another reason why crowdsourcing should be used is because it saves the organisation money. Although it costs money to pay for the best solution from the crowd, it is still cheaper than paying a number of employees to do the work. (Howe, 2006)
How to use Crowd sourcing?
One of the ways to use crowdsourcing as a knowledge management tool is to set a problem to which an organisation requires a solution to a crowd (for example an online community). The reward for the solution can be monetary, which will motivate the crowd to participate and suggest the best possible solution to an organisation. After a solution is provided the problem-solver gets the reward. Even though not all the participants are rewarded, all are motived to provide the best quality solution as possible. (Yang, et al. 2008)
When to use Crowd sourcing?
The statement made by Brabham (2008), "The crowd solves the problems that stump corporate scientific researchers" is in my opinion a good indication of when crowd sourcing can be used. If an organisation is unable to solve a problem internally, set it to the customers of that organisation. Suggestions on how to solve the problem may just come from the combined knowledge of the crowd which will allow the organisation to solve the problem, based on the variety of suggestions by the crowd.
When not to use Crowd sourcing?
According to Kuran, et al. (2009) a person taking part in crowd sourcing needs to feel that his/her contributions is of value and thus needs to be motivated to take part in the crowd sourcing process. In my opinion, this can be translated to a reason why not to use crowd sourcing. If the organisation does not want to motivate the persons working for them, or do not see the value behind the contributions of the people, crowd sourcing should not be used.
Potential problem areas in crowdsourcing lies in security and confidentiality, and it can be argued that an organisation need to think carefully about what and to whom the sourcing out of work is done. If it involves sensitive information or information that needs to be kept secure, crowdsourcing should not be used. (Vukovic et al. 2010)
What is Enterprise 2.0?
According to Gotta (2007), Enterprise 2.0 is "a collection of organizational and information technology (IT) constructs that enable more flexible work models, knowledge sharing, and community buildingâ€¦"
Enterprise 2.0 can thus be described as the use of a variety of web 2.0 tools like blogs, wikis, folksonomies and social networking tools that can be used together with conventional Knowledge management systems to improve communication and knowledge sharing within organisations. (Levy; McAfee in Gordeyeva, 2011)
Why use Enterprise 2.0?
According to Miller (2007), there are a number of reasons why organisations need to make use of enterprise 2.0 as a knowledge management tool/technique. Some of the first reasons are that it is inexpensive to implement; it is easy to use, so not much skill is required for the users working with the system; and maintenance can be done easily, with a relatively low level of expertise.
Other benefits, which can be interpreted as reasons why an organisation should make use of enterprise 2.0 is because it opens up more channels of communication, between the organisation and it`s different stakeholders, at a very low cost. (Miller, 2007)
How to use Enterprise 2.0?
Using enterprise 2.0 as a tool for managing knowledge is not something that can be achieved overnight. It has to be developed, and adapted to work for a specific organisation. According to Miller (2007), an organisation has to start small, with one or two tools, such as wikis or blogs that can be used by a few departments to share their information and knowledge with one another. If this turns out to work, it can be implemented in the organisation as a whole, and later it can be expanded to include all the stakeholders that are involved with the organisation.
When to use Enterprise 2.0?
Before Enterprise 2.0 can be used in an organisation, that organisation has to realise and understand that people in the organisation has a different approaches to the way in which they do their work, but also that there are different relationships between people within the organisation, but also to networks outside the organisations boundaries. Once this realisation has been made, enterprise 2.0 can be used to collaborate and develop strategies for the future by improving relationships and the way people work together. The organisation should also add some personal value for its members, so that they are motivated to use and contribute to the resources of the organisation. (Gotta, 2007)
When not to use Enterprise 2.0?
There are a number of risks associated with enterprise 2.0 that can be seen as reasons why it should not be implemented and used by an organisation. One of these reasons is the security issues that come to the forefront, in terms of the types and amount of information that an organisation makes available. Some of this material might be sensitive and should not be exposed to outside views. (Miller, 2007)
Miller (2007), has identified a number of other risks associated with enterprise 2.0, such as technological issues, where technologies and the vendors of these technologies are still emerging, and research still has to be done to determine which is the best suited for a specific organisation`s use. Another issue is the quality of the information that is shared by means of these technologies. Not all people using enterprise 2.0 tools, such as blogs are experts in the field of both writing qualitative content and filtering out irrelevant nonsense, so the sharing and use of qualitative content becomes a problem.
In this assignment I have looked at four different tools, techniques or approaches that can be used to manage knowledge within an organisation. The tools, techniques or approaches which have been considered are: Strategic Conversation, Metadata, Crowd sourcing and Enterprise 2.0. These four have been discussed in terms of what they are (definitions), why an organisation should use it, how an organisation should use it, when an organisation should use it, and when an organisation should not use it.