The following report analyses knowledge management (KM) issues in a special organisation which has been anonymized for this assignment as “CBS”. The topics concerning the KM issue are outlined and criticised. Furthermore the positive and negative aspects lead to points of improvement. Not all issues concerning knowledge management are outlined, only the concerns of major interest and importance.
The treated company is located in the engineering sector of the wood working industry. The produced and developed goods are wood band saws with peripheral equipment which are sold to the primary wood processing industry e.g. wood dealer and furniture producer.
This family owned and global operating middle class organisation has about 400 employees with over 40 agencies all over the world.
In the creative head of the company, the research and development department (R&D) are about 30 employees in engineering and electronic tasks employed. In the after sales department are nearly 15 people who care about the customers.
In the following report the author tries to outline several problems concerning knowledge management in the R&D department, after sales department and in the holistic situation of the organisational behaviour and environment. In the authors opinion the further mentioned areas have the most potential of improvement. To get a little more insight the actual situation in the company is outlined
First of all, the company has a huge product range of band saw machines. These machines are all needed in special market segments. The market and the competitors itself dictates what technical equipments are required at present to ensure that the customer will buy the machine in this company. Also the price and the technical solutions for special problems are important in the decision making process. In fine, in the beginning is the product line of the company in which the customer is interested. To displace the competitor and to get the supplement the whole package must satisfy the customer also in the after sales care.
At the beginning of the knowledge management process is the R&D department. Here is the creative energy of CBS which realises the wishes of customers and adopts the market demands in the developing process of the machinery. This is mostly realized through tacit knowledge of the employees in the department who develop and construct the machinery.
The first problem concerning KM which can be identified is the whole environment of the company. There is no common effort to create organisational knowledge. The organisational culture is not knowledge centred. In CBS are high hierarchical structures in which the executives conceal their knowledge to show their predominance. Through this knowledge retention the knowledge is bonded to the executives. So one can say, in CBS are no common efforts of a companywide knowledge management approach.
Furthermore there is no common platform where the knowledge is shared apart from the communication layer. No documents or problem solutions are stored in that way that people can search for a solution. So if a problem in an actual task occurs, people have to search people who know something about a special issue or they have to solve this problem on their own. Even if a challenge was solves one week before no one could find specific date if the employee wasn’t directly involved.
This organisation exceeds the “everybody knows everything” culture without sharing your knowledge. Too much projects and challenges for one person to know everything what is actually happening. There are too specific tasks and topics so that one person can’t overlook this.
But there are also some rudiments for sharing knowledge. The company has an intranet with some little guidelines and rule for employees. Here is also some date that is use by everybody like a product catalogue of raw materials. But the knowledge which is shared is restricted to a minimum. Only a few technical guidelines are described but they are so elementary that no one cares about it. In the mind of the top management a creation of a knowledge database would be too time consuming, costly and calls for a new employee, a “knowledge manager”. The view from the management is too narrow to recognise the importance of such a system. The storage of explicit knowledge is very important to relocate data, guidelines and common procedures.
A good example is the storing of the customer and contract focused data. All the activities which are done during a special job are noted on papers which are tracked to the special customer sheet. After finishing the product (machinery) the data is filed in storage. At the end, one only has a number and a customer name on the file folder in the none electronically storage. And the history of this job will be soon forgotten by the majority of the participating people. So after a wile, only a few people know about specific problems and there is no organisational learning. The only ray of hop in this system is a little program where workers order the parts of the machinery. Here one can reconstruct a special commission. But there are only the assembly parts for the machinery listed. No special problems, challenges and solutions are defined and stored. So if a similar commission will be produced one year later, participating persons has to remember about the challenges or they have to make the learning experience again.
The same problem occurs in the after sales department. Here is no database where customer related data is stored. The common practise is to file the customers’ data in a disposer and file it in the desk. The problem is that one employed only looks after few customers. No one has the common overview of challenges, even the chief of the department can’t care about all the topics. Finally in the end, the customer related problems will be solved, but if something related happens in a different case, employees don’t have the chance to know about the solution if they hadn’t been involved in the earlier case. The other grievance is that the customer problems remain in the desks of the after sales department. The majority of problems aren’t discussed in the R&D department so that these problems can’t be determined or improved radical. Only when there are bigger problems in which the after sales department is at the loss, the R&D will be involved and gets information.
A further call for action is in the holistic situation of human research management (HRM) in relation to knowledge management. In the R&D department is actually a high stuff turnover especially in the high skilled labour force. The management has to ensure to bind employees to the company. This high staff turnover could be ascribed to the absence of further development. Also the high hierarchical structures hinder self-determination and personal growth. Another point of improvement is the handling of employees’ knowledge. The management is not aware to give the right job to the person who is a specialist in this area. Further developments are also required in the teamwork process. There are also only some little groups who work together. This cooperation is based on personal sympathy. Outsiders in the departments hinder knowledge sharing process because the use knowledge only for their advantage.
The main grievance of this people management is that management sees its employees only as an artefact. Here the separate person simply doesn’t count.
As on can see some fundamental problems concerning KM are occurring in the treated company. There is no “global” interaction between the several departments so that organisational learning can’t happen. In the following diagram the actual situation related to KM is outlined:
Actual situation in the treated company:
Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten
Related to the table above every department works on its own. Even in the separate departments are personal frictions which charge the knowledge sharing process. Relating to these problems there is no sharing of knowledge and therefore no organisational learning.
And when the actually data is stored, it is store on paper so that is couldn’t be found easily. In addition it can’t be found company spanning. To all intents and purposes the knowledge remains in the particular departments or personal minds. Only in critical and department spanned problem a knowledge flow takes place through personal interaction and conversation.