Management Tips

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Knowledge Management

What is Knowledge?
Actually,the term knowledge is explained in different ways.Accoding to me,knowledge is understanding of facts related to specific area.

Knowledge is of two types :


  1. Tacit knowledge

  2. Explicit knowledge

Tacit Knowledge is not easily visible and expressible. It cannot be easily transferred. It is deeply rooted in individuals action and experience as well as ideas, values and emotions.

Explicit Knowledge can be expressed and shared in the form of data, scientific formulae, manuals, universal principles. So,it can be readily transferred from one individual to another formally or systematically.

Knowledge thus needs to be transformed into explicit knowledge so that it can be shared with others in the organisation.


What is Knowledge management?
In my view,knowledge management is a technique to congregate and disseminate knowledge.It involedge creation,storage,organize,distribute and share.

  • Knowledge is created as either explicit knowledge or tacit knowledge.

  • Knowledge is stored to enable the organization to organize and share data.

  • Knowledge is acquired and shared by people ,they can search the knowledge items.

  • Knowledge created must be utilized properly. So, more the knowledge created, more is it applied and utilized.

    There are several definitions for knowledge Management. Two of them are cited below

    "Knowledge Management is a process through which organisations generate value from their intellectual and knowledge based assets"(By Meridith Levinson in CIO magazine)

    "Knowledge Management is the discipline of enabling individuals, teams and entire organisations to collectively and systematically create, share and apply knowledge, to better achieve their objectives" (Ron Young, CEO/CKO Knowledge Associates International)

I chose to compare these two definitions which convey a similar meaning and there are several such definitions. The first one defines Knowledge management as a process, while the other calls it a discipline. Which of these is true although both of them are referring to a common term "Knowledge management"? This is the ONLY reason why there exist several such definitions. The reason being 'best practices' as observed by an individual or an organization or a group of organizations involved with similar kind of work. So it is to be understood that the defintion of knowledge mangament cannot be entirely universal as it is governed by an individual or an organization's field of work, practices, principles etc.. thus creating a definition which has a broad meaning. Trying to define it in by narrowing on it would cause the term to be accepted on a global scale due to the constraints presented by the definition. Thus IT Corporations like HP, Deloitte, IBM, etc.. have a different definiton compared to Knowledge management leaders such as Steward and Prusak. So we could co-relate and match the terms in these definitions to see to what extent they match and create a global definition. However this would become an umbrella definition without much detail.

Knowledge,Information,Data

Data:

Data is a collection of quantitative or qualitative facts with no inherent meaning. It is also "distinct pieces of information” arranged in an unsystematic way. When data is manipulated, processed manually or by automation it becomes information based on a certain logic generated from a purpose, idea, thought or similar.

I feel, data could be inadequate or futile in a given situation and may not convey the entire meaning or substance by itself . However it can be made useful by organizing, managing and interpreting in a more explicit way where it becomes information.

For example, consider a person recording the population census by moving to each and every house in a town. He collects the raw data by counting the number of persons in each family. Here the data by itself provides numbers specific to each house, which if considered with out further processing may not help much.

Information:

Data which has been processed into meaningful patterns that can be recorded and ready for communication. It is also defined as facts or figures arranged in some sort of order by different data manipulation techniques, so that they acquire meaning or reveal information between data items.

Information is the more explicit representation of data so that data becomes meaningful with respect to a given scenario. I strongly feel this is critical with respect to communication without which effective sharing of resources could not be possible.

Consider the above example of collecting population census which can be used to show particular population information for an area or city. The data is useful in providing numbers specific to a house and nothing more. However the idea is to record the population census for the entire town. This requires adding logic to the data and processing it to get the numbers and any other facts based on other criteria for the entire town. This converts the so called data before processing in to useful information that now serves a purpose.


Knowledge:

Knowledge is part of the hierarchy made up of data, information and knowledge. "Knowledge is the uniquely human capability of interpreting and extracting meaning from Information [1]. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines knowledge as "the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association[2] .I strongly agree with the above statements because knowledge only be gained through experiences and in that way we learn and interpret the things in a unique and compatible way.

It is information with guidance for actions which can also be referred as "Relationships, facts, assumptions, heuristics and models derived through the formal and informal analysis or interpretation of data”. I feel this as the more formal definition of the knowledge because we now have the knowledge processing systems that are capable of making decisions without less human interaction.

I can support the above statements by continuing the same example of data and information. When information regarding the population of a particular city is determined through census, we can easily predict the increase or decrease in the female population or male population, child birth rate etc. This can be treated as knowledge because we are analyzing and interpreting the information.



References:-

1)Leif Edvinsson and Michael S. Malone, Intellectual Capital: Realizing Your Company's True Value by Finding Its Hidden Brainpower. New York: Harper Business, 1997, pp 10-15.
http://www.gdrc.org/kmgmt/km-7.html
2) “What is Knowledge and Can it Be Managed “by Craig S. Mullins Published: March 1, 1999.
http://www.tdan.com/view-articles/5108/ (accessed on 11th Feb)

3)http://sam.dgs.ca.gov/TOC/4800/4819.2.htm (accessed on 11th Feb)

Organisation

Organisation:
An organisation is a group of people organized to work collectively and systematically to acheive a common goal or set of goals.

Building the Organisational team:
What is a Team?
A team is a group of people working collaboratively.

Organisations have to find some ways to respond creatively.So,organisation's members need to co-operate with each other.
'Team building' is a process of facilitating group of people to reach their goal.
Team building activities are must in an organisation.This helps in increasing the amount of effective co-operation in the organisation.

There are some stages involved in team building:


  • Elucidate the collective goals
  • Identify and remove the obstacles that stop the team from reaching its goals
  • Place the enablers that assist them
  • Make sure the goals are acheived by measuring and monitoring the progress
In 'Team building' team members perform their work in the presence of other team members allowing everyone to be familiar with performance issues.The employees of the organisation along with the manager dicusses their purpose and objectives.If they find any obstacles in the way of achieveing these objectives they plan accordingly and solve the obstacles.
Each and every member in the team have to face some obstacles.The team members can solve the issues with the help of their team leader and team members.So,to break down the obstacle for a successful team they need to avoid aggression,stay positive and focus on the goals.
To maintain a good and effective team there should be a factor of good leadership.Good leadership is a essential factor for good colllaboration.The leaders should have the skills to maintain an positive atmosphere in the work place to inspire the members of the team to be confident.
For a team to be successful ,it needs some important elements like :

  • Good communication between the team members
  • well organized
  • Good support and guidance
  • Mutual respect
  • Adaptability

Communication between the team members plays a vital role in the team.If a team is well oraganised the team members can clearly understand their roles and work for the team effectively to acheive what their team requires in a shortest period of time.Each and every team has to face some difficult tasks in the organisation.So,the team needs a good support and guidance from the team leader or manager or the team members.Mutual respect in a team means not respecting the the friends in a team ,it's like respecting the team member's contribution to the team.Adaptability is adapting to the situations that occur in a team without disturbing the team.The team can be successful if these are followed.

I support the above objectives and responsibilities of the organization by considering the following example of an educational institution or university where there will be a chair of the organization in the team leader position who will be leading all the heads of the different departments who intern leads the professors of that respective departments. Here the chair of the organization guides and supports the members of the team in each and every aspect. As this team is a chain of positions, there must be an effective communication between the members of the team (professors of the each department and departmental heads) and the team leader (chair of the institution) to achieve the goal of offering an exemplary education by setting up some standards which will create good fame for institution which is necessary for the long run of the institution. Though this is the operational goal of the organization, there will be many tasks that are subject to time periods and required for the effective functioning of the organization. These short time goals are like assigning the professors to different courses, distributing the inventory between different departments, managing the research projects etc. If we consider assigning professors to different courses, it is the responsibility of the head of the departments and chair of the organization to assign the professors to different courses by considering the previous experiences and must assign the right professors for the right courses so that everyone is happy with what they are doing and are confined to their own job apart from playing an active role in the organization.
If they have any obstacles in achieving this, they must cooperate and communicate effectively by discussing the problems involved in it and it is the responsibility of the chair to make them understand the situation and make sure that each team member gets adapted to the situation .It is the responsibility of team members and chair to create some positive work environment and must show work enthusiasm by inspiring other team members. He as a good leader must make sure every professor is involved in the team and accepts the suggestions and improvisations from the professors by elucidating the ideas of each task which will create mutual respect between the team members. For example, if the organization decides to add a new course to the curriculum they must give high priority to decision of the professors who are already teaching in that field before they take a decision. This will inculcate the feeling of everyone is important in the team among the team members and can freely express their views and comments on different tasks which is an important thing for the creating an healthy work environment.

1. http://www.teamtechnology.co.uk/tt/t-articl/tb-basic.htm (accessed on 2nd Feb)

2. Team success ingredients-What makes team great? Article by Duncan Brodie

http://ezinearticles.com/?Team-Success-Ingredients---What-Makes-a-Team-Great?&id=1960586 (Accessed on 2nd Feb)

3.The importance of teamwork - Lilly Morgan

http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Importance-of-Teamwork&id=1920245

Team Management Systems

It is an integrated system of research-proven assesment which helps the organisations and teams to gain high performance in the workplace.
(www.tms.com.au)