Aspects Of Contemporary Issues In Management

To prepare this report several resources, tools, technique, and methods are used. Resources used in this report are from newspaper articles, reports, organizations accounts, charts, financial documents and many others. Primary information gathered from libraries as well as world wide web resources.

The steps and methods used while gathering information to produce this report are:

Analysing organizational charts

Document overview

Website surveys

Research

Documentation

The primary document used to create this report is mainly the Journal and text Books. Definition and background of the report are gathered from world wide web and several other resources.

Introduction:

In this report I will be discussing contemporary issues in management such as knowledge management, learning organization and knowledge economy. Knowledge management, learning organization are very vital part in any organization’s success. These contemporary strategic management issues are thus need more focus than ever in our ever changing management environment.

This paper will also look at some of the complexities and opportunities provided by cooperative and thorough understanding between organizational learning and knowledge, and the requisite knowledge management required to make usable sense of both.

Firstly, I will be discussing what is knowledge management and why should we need it, and some brief advantages and disadvantages.

Then I will briefly discuss and explore the knowledge economy and its importance.

Then I will discuss the organizational learning, what is it and why do we care. Some in depth view of cultural organization learning method and benefit of organization learning.

Finally I will give some recommendation for most appropriate and effective knowledge management system strategy and suggested learning organization.

Knowledge Management:

The relationship between organizational learning and organizational knowledge and the affect knowledge management has on both is at once undeveloped and immature-in its basis and orientation to organizations-as it is in another instance burgeoning and unknown. Carl Sagan the great physicist and astronomer was accustomed to saying about the universe as comprising “Billions and billions, and billions of stars”; as much may be said of the field of knowledge management with respect to its breadth and depth. Studies and the assembled base of research captured in and by the sampling of articles this paper will use to support this discussion of these three daunting, yet weighty entry points give the assembled body of academe and student reason for pause as well as concern. Pause because just as the era of Sagan’s Astronomy exposed the viewing public of the vastness of the universe so too is today’s corporate executive, government leader, and IT/IS/IM subject matter expert in awe of the rapid pace of change-and unknown horizons-of the future of knowledge and learning, and, the complex management required by both: knowledge and learning. Equally interesting (as well as daunting and disturbing) is the obvious concern-and confusion-from the reviewed authors and experts as to what is really known and understood about organizational learning, knowledge, and the management of either or both. What one common thread-or issue-that all seem to be in agreement of is this: that those who get it (“it” being knowledge management) will not only be pioneers and mavericks in their field/industry/global market, but they will set the benchmark for success as they explode beyond the horizon leaving all others in their dust. Organizations like Virgin Air, Southwest Airlines, or Stella Artois, are but a few of the early pioneers making headlines in this arena today. (Magee, Jeffrey) What do the others look like and who will they be? Again, another great launching point but not one with clear skies.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.” Albert Einstein (Lewis)

“These days people seek knowledge, not wisdom. Knowledge is of the past, wisdom is of the future.” Vernon Cooper (Lewis)

“Data are raw and unorganized facts about the world that are collected and stored. Information is produced when data is processed and transformed so that it is organized in a meaningful fashion. Knowledge is the “set of rules” that can be used to interpret information and to take appropriate action based on that information.” (Watkins)

Put another way: Information-in the modern, post-industrial era-is the data bits and bytes, which if “…organized in a meaningful fashion” (Watkins) may necessarily usher through processes and transformations in group activity that will allow and promote effective production. As Economists add the realm of knowledge management and business intelligence to their economic models an entirely new definition of “economies of scale” will necessarily emerge. The paradigms of global-business economics and knowledge management that here-to-fore existed will be challenged to their core.

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Knowledge Economy:

Knowledge economy refers to an economy of knowledge concentrate on the productive and management of knowledge and a knowledge-based economy. on the later term, more often used, it points to the implementation of knowledge to create economic value. Many observers stated on today’s global economy as one that is in transition to a “knowledge economy”, as an extension of “information society”. Transition requires that the practices and rules that state success in the industrial economy need addressing to an interconnected, global economy where knowledge assets such as expertise, know-how, and intellectual property are more vital than other economic assets such as natural resources, land, or even manpower or people. According to experts of the “knowledge economy,” these laws need to be addressed at the levels of organization and industries in regards of knowledge management and at the level of public policy as knowledge-related policy.

Organizational Learning:

So what exactly is organizational learning and why do we care? A search of the world-wide web provides us the following table neatly crafted by studies conducted at the University of Albany’s School of Public Health. Essentially the table is broken in to individual and group domains, with the premise that “best practices” as listed will fall-more or less-in to four categories:

communication and openness;

inquiry and feedback;

adequate time;

and mutual respect and support.

Table 1. Characteristics of a Learning Organization and Associated Best Practices*

Characteristic

Definition

Associated Best Practices

Positive By products

Self mastery- individual

The ability to honestly and openly see reality as it exists; to clarify one’s personal vision

1.Positive reinforcement from role models/managers

2.Sharing experiences

3.More interaction time between supervisory levels

4.Emphasis on feedback

5.Balance work/non-work life

Greater commitment to the organization and to work; less rationalization of negative events; ability to face limitations and areas for improvement; ability to deal with change

Mental models – individual

The ability to compare reality or personal vision with perceptions; reconciling both into a coherent understanding

1.Time for learning

2.Reflective openness

3.Habit of inquiry

4.Forgiveness of oneself

5.Flexibility/adaptability

Less use of defensive routines in work; less reflexivity that leads to dysfunctional patterns of behavior; less avoidance of difficult situations

Shared vision – group

The ability of a group of individuals to hold a shared picture of a mutually desirable future

1.Participative openness

2.Trust

3.Empathy towards others

4.Habit of dissemination 5.Emphasis on cooperation

6.A common language

Commitment over compliance, faster change, greater within group trust; less time spent on aligning interests; more effective communication flows

Team learning – group

The ability of a group of individuals to suspend personal assumptions about each other and engage in “dialogue” rather than “discussion”

1.Participative openness 2.Consensus building

3.Top-down and bottom-up communication flows;

4.Support over blame;

5.Creative thinking

Group self-awareness; heightened collective learning; learning “up and down” the hierarchy; greater cohesiveness; enhanced creativity

Systems thinking – group

The ability to see interrelationships rather than linear cause-effect; the ability to think in context and appreciate the consequences of actions on other parts of the system

1.Practicing self mastery

2.Possessing consistent mental models

3.Possessing a shared vision

4.Emphasis on team learning

Long-term improvement or change; decreased organizational conflict; continuous learning among group members; Revolutionary over evolutionary change

* Adapted from the work of Senge (1990), Argyris and Schon (1996), Argyris (1991), and Schon (1983).

The suggestion here being that these four categories serve in a circuitous manner whereby if “communication, reflection, feedback, flexibility, and inquiry” are encouraged and fostered such that the learning organization will grow in a similarly and necessarily positive manner. Organizational learning will actually thrive as individuals having adequate time to engage in self reflection and various forms of group dynamic activities (like brainstorming or break-out sessions) interact among themselves and between groups of different disciplines. Honeywell learned these costly lesson years ago as a result of Systems Engineers working a program to re-engineer city infrastructure systems. Engineers in another division of Honeywell had long before worked on a similar program within the Department of Defense’s Aerospace program, which significantly reduced organizational bureaucracy and product life-cycles. As these “super star” engineers were accustomed to guarding their trade and professional secrets it seemed certain that the Systems Engineers were destined to fail. A certain Honeywell executive with a keen eye to learning and sharing knew of these advances and called on the engineers to cross-pollinate for mutual good. (Magee) This process allowed organizational learning to move from fractured information pools to collected information sets, which ushered forth advancements in organizational knowledge.

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Maarten Sierhuis suggests that “organizations are now starting to look at ‘knowledge’ as a resource as well”. It may be further posited, and rightfully so in both obvious and micro-economic reasons, that “learning” should be looked upon as a resource too. Mr. Sierhuis suggests further that there are “…ways of managing knowledge in an organization”, and he goes on to provide that there are at least three paradigms under which techniques and methods may be developed to uncover the sources of knowledge in an organization and how this contributes to and creates “Knowledge Technology”. However, looking at these entry points from a different perspective provides some unique insight in to organizational learning. Mr. Sierhuis uses knowledge analysis; knowledge planning ; and, knowledge technology. What is interesting here is if we replace the knowledge with information it is plausible to use these same principles, and grow the definition and understanding of organizational learning.

Organizational knowledge:

So what is organizational knowledge and why do (or should) we care? It may be advanced-working from the definitions, understanding, and parameters-about organizational learning from above that organizational knowledge is merely the sum total of that learning. As organizations mature and gain situational awareness from their collective base the organizational knowledge must make certain advances as it matures. Advances occur as organizational metamorphosis takes place; such occurrences take place between employees working with, in, and throughout their markets; employees working with and interacting amongst one another; customer and consumer interaction and activities; and administrative and executive input, output, and feedback. As these entry and exit points are observed, coalesced, and acted upon organizational knowledge is taking place, and the organization, whether it be a government entity, small enterprise, or large national or multi-national corporate entity should necessarily thrive. Now the degree to which these former organizations thrive-and maintain perpetuity-will largely be a function of its knowledge management core. Of course, as the body of research indicates, knowledge management in all of its amorphous states (replete with ambiguity) goes a long way to determining the overall success of company or government entity. Unfortunately for the private or public corporation failure in the field of knowledge management typically results in failure and possibly bankruptcy; unlike the government entity, which may continue to exist (and possibly thrive) due to its bottomless pit of monies derived from its tax-base. So what organizational knowledge may be attempting to harness is best said in the words of Vernon Cooper: “These days people seek knowledge, not wisdom. Knowledge is of the past, wisdom is of the future.” Organizational knowledge is doing exactly this; attempting to accumulate and assimilate the vastness of knowledge (based in large part on data-points or sets, and information) on deposit in its current workforce and pull from that the sum total of wisdom to propel the organization forward in to the future.

Given the large body of information it may be argued from the higher side of the argument (and there is certainly a mountain of it: “information” that is) that knowledge management has great affect upon organizational learning and organizational knowledge. What academe does provide is an entry point for the discussion on what knowledge management is and is not, and along with its complexity how seemingly unmanageable it has become and will continue to be. If we may, for a moment, digress to the “effect” entry-point what KM has done it is (or has been) to create an entire cottage industry (if we may be so bold as to call Microsoft, IBM, SAP, Oracle, and the lot “cottage industry entities”) attempting to develop entire suites (hardware and software) oriented around KM. On the basis of behemoth enterprises attempting to provide the corporate and government vehicles to deliver on knowledge management Denham Grey provides us this perspective:

“Knowledge is the basis for, and the driver of, our post-industrial economy. Knowledge is the result of learning which provides the only sustainable competitive advantage. Knowledge is the next paradigm shift in computing following data processing 1945-1965 and information management 1966-1995. Knowledge is action, focused innovation, pooled expertise, special relationships and alliances. Knowledge is value-added behavior and activities. For knowledge to be of value it must be focused, current, tested and shared.” (KM Forum Archives)

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Given this entry-point it must be understood that the exponential increase in speed and volume that human-kind has become involved in handling and dealing with data-sets and information necessarily requires paradigm shifts. Along with these new paradigms and their incumbent shifts managers and leaders at all levels must, no they are required to, address how best to manage the information currently available by “Super Star” workers (Magee, J.) on the cusp of calling it quits as they exit the door in droves.

“Knowledge loss is one of the more common issues facing mankind. We no longer “know”, for example, how to build a Saturn V rocket. Indigenous societies and cultures are also at risk. And in some cases, entire languages have been lost.” (KM Forum & Newman).

Recommendation:

If current and future management fails to recognize this fact and invent truly workable hardware and software to capture near-past (last 5 to 10 years) current, and future knowledge it may be lost forever. Knowledge management, therefore is the meshing together of senior management and leadership within organizations to bring together the hardware and software systems that allow for the thorough and genuine capturing of information from all levels and ages of workers as they conduct their daily activities, parses that activity (and its related information) in to useable knowledge, archives it responsibly, and thereby allows future users extremely user-friendly tactics, techniques, and procedures for accessing it. As KM affects this process it will either positively or negatively (on the margin) effect the organization. The first company-or individual-who successfully and thoroughly accomplishes this activity will be extremely famous and wealthy beyond even the financial imagination of Bill Gates. While the likes of Microsoft, IBM, SAP, Oracle, and others think they are doing Knowledge Management they are in fact sadly misled, and misleading themselves. In the case of Microsoft all they are doing is (as they have always done) neatly packaging and marketing just one more software overlay template; and in their relentless endeavors to be the Office Suite provider of choice they are doing nothing more than dumbing down their audiences and in so doing arresting success from all organizational entities. And, it is in this vernacular that I invoke my last great quote:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For while knowledge defines all we currently know and understand, imagination points to all we might yet discover and create.” Albert Einstein (Lewis)

Conclusion:

Over time management’s ability to collect data and organize it and the information that flows from it to be accessible and usable (to the rank-and-file employee) in a most efficient manner will be the deciding factor in a business’ ability to survive and thrive in ever more fiercely globally competitive markets. But why-or maybe equally important, how- is this? Corporate leadership with its education, knowledge, and keen business acumen must orchestrate the proper blending if IT experts amongst its corporate (business or government) culture. The CIOs domain must be fully integrated and inter-active with-hopefully savy-Production, and Sales and Marketing executives at the key time and location as to affect information and knowledge distribution for success and from economies of scale such that profit margins are protected and grown. It is the ideal timing and teaming of subject matter experts that will most assuredly usher forth the very best knowledge engineered to focus and direct information so that the organization’s most ideal decisions and most productive actions are (will be) executed. This basic Knowledge Management- Business Information model is true regardless of whether it involves retooling (and possible relocation) of an auto-mobile manufacturing plant, or a military organization reorganizing from the traditional conventional fight to a more asymmetric unconventional, irregular warfare fight.

Just as Steven Silbiger put it in his “Ten Day MBA” book in reference to strategy development, the same may be said of knowledge management and the development of this discipline within the hallowed halls of corporate America: that is that knowledge management development “without an eye toward implementation is a waste of time.” “Leaders have to discern which factors are within their control and which are not.” (Silbiger) Until the field (discipline) of knowledge management along with the executives who give direction and intent come together with software developers it is unlikely that industry (in total) will affectively and effectively harness all the knowledge occurring and leaving. As science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke offered: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

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