KM process capability and its relevance in an organization. Knowledge Management (KM) can be defined as a deliberate, systematic business optimization strategy that selects, distills stores, organizes, packages, and communicates information essential to the business of a company in a manner that improves employee performance and corporate competitiveness. KM caters to the critical issues of organizational-adaptation, survival and competence in the face of increasingly discontinuous environmental change.
Essentially KM embodies organizational process that seek synergistic combination of data, and information processing capacity of information and technologies and the creative innovative capacity of human being Therefore KM seeks to make the best use of knowledge that is available to an organization thereby creating new knowledge in the process. From this definition, it is clear that Knowledge Management is fundamentally about a systematic approach to managing intellectual assets and other information in a way that provides the company with a competitive advantage.
Knowledge Management is a business optimization strategy, and not limited to a particular technology or source of information. In most cases, a wide variety of information technologies play a key role in a KM initiative, simply because of the savings in time and effort they provide over manual operations. The essence of knowledge management is to improve organizational performance by approaching to the processes capabilities such as acquiring knowledge, converting knowledge into useful form, applying or using knowledge, and protecting knowledge by intentional and systematic method.
Knowledge management can be understood by innovation process of organization with individual to search for creative problem solving method. The dynamic nature of the new market place today has created a competitive incentive among many companies to consolidate and reconcile their knowledge assets as a means of creating value that is sustainable over time. To achieve this competitive sustainability, many companies are launching extensive knowledge management efforts (Gold, Malhotra, &Segars, 2001).
To compete effectively, companies must leverage their existing knowledge and create new knowledge that favorably positions them in their chosen markets. To accomplish this, companies must develop the ability to use prior knowledge to recognize the value of new information, assimilate it, and apply it to create new knowledge and capabilities (Cohen & Levinthal, 1990). Many researchers have proposed capabilities influencing Knowledge management as preconditions or organizational resources for effective knowledge management (Gold et al. 2001; Gray, 2001; Holsapple & Joshi, 2000; Ichijo etl. ,1998;Krogh,Nonakam,&Aben,2001;Lee&Choi,2003;Leonard-Barton,1995;Malone, 2002; Quinn, Anderson, & Finkelstein, 1996; Wiig, 1997; According to Gold, Malhotra and Segars( 2001) Four KM process capabilities can be clearly discerned these are: 1) Acquisition process, 2) Conversion process, 3) Application process and, and 4) Protection process ( i ) Knowledge acquisition These are the processes oriented towards obtaining knowledge.
Many terms have been used to describe these processes: acquire, seek, generate, create, capture, and collaborate. For example, the creation of organizational knowledge requires the sharing and dissemination (i. e. collaboration) of personal experience. This process takes place at two levels: between the individuals and between the organizational and its network of business partners (Gold, Malhotraand Segars, 2001, p. 190). Thus, operations geared towards knowledge acquisition (accumulation) are required if this process is to contribute towards the superior performance of the organization. ii) Knowledge conversion Conversion oriented KM processes are those oriented toward making existing knowledge useful. Some of the processes that enable knowledge conversion are the firm’s ability to organize, integrate, combine, structure, coordinate, or distribute knowledge. An organization must develop framework for organizing or structuring its knowledge; since without common representation standards, no consistency or common dialogue of knowledge would exist. According to (Grant, 1996, quoted in Gold et al. 2001), a primary goal of any organization should be integrate specialized knowledge of many individuals. Four commonly cited mechanisms for facilitating integration are rules and directives, sequencing, routines, and group problem solving and decision-making. (iii) Knowledge application Perhaps the most significant example of the importance of sharing knowledge comes from the Linux operating system. This product continues to be openly developed (i. e. anyone who want scan make modifications to the program and the source code is freely available).
As result of sharing knowledge, product development times are accelerated, functionality has increased rapidly, and its adoption has become widespread. In a discussion of customer support knowledge, Davenport and Kahr (1998) note that the effective application of knowledge has helped companies improve their efficiency and reduce costs. (iv)Knowledge protection For a resource to confer competitiveness to a firm and result in superior performance, it has to be valuable, rare, inimitable and unsubstitutable. This resource must be protected.
However, though knowledge protection can be effected through IT systems and other physical means; it should be recognized that a very significant amount of organizational knowledge reside in the employees in which case softer methods of protecting this knowledge through employee incentives should be implemented as well. Thus operations strategy should be crafted covering the complete scope of the KM process capability. Operations will, for instance address how knowledge is acquired, processes, stored, retrieved, transferred, shared, applied, and protected.
From the above discussion relevance of KM process capability is not in doubt in all organizations world wide, as in almost all organizations various activities of KM process capability as below are undertaken. According to Notaka & Takeuchi (1995) knowledge is generated in the minds of people only but can be acquired through training, reading books or consultants sharing knowledge in seminars, workshops and conferences. Knowledge is also gained through observation and practice (hands-on-experience) Information is also converted into knowledge as employees work together as they perform their daily activities.
Knowledge can also be acquired or transferred as employees socialize during Tea breaks, Lunch breaks, occasional festivities and leisure time activities. Likewise most organization currently organizes Team building outings for their employees. All such occasions as above are important in the context of knowledge transfer. Also Knowledge sharing is another important aspect of knowledge process capability. Here knowledge is usually shared with new employees during induction process and/or when a new product or process is being introduced.
Knowledge sharing is usually regular or event triggered. Regular as it is repeated at specific intervals e. g. product performance in the market. Event triggered if done at specific events e. g. at project end or coming up of a new technology. Once an organization acquire, convert and apply knowledge in its strategic operations it is crucial to protect the knowledge. To store the knowledge it is first coded into a package for transmission or future use (Schulz & Jobe 2001) codification is the process that creates knowledge storehouses (Hansen et al 2000).
Explicit can then be stored in documents and discs. Explicit knowledge can be stored in indirect form e. g. in story telling video. Know ledge can also be protected through employee incentives and other forms of motivation. Further, in recent year’s information and knowledge are replacing capital and energy as the primary wealth creating assets, just as the later two replaced land and labor 200 years ago. Today knowledge related economies view of business strategy emphasizes on resource efficiency rather than the competitive forces. Hall 1992) This RBV perspective of corporate strategy advocates the leveraging of resources and capabilities in many products for different markets. (Teece et al, 1990s) KM process capability if well utilized can help creat barriers to both imitation and mobility thereby creating competitive advantage. Such utilization can lead to strategic responses such as:- Timely marketing, speedy innovation and understanding the pace and nature of competition, customer needs and trends and the market state.
Therefore strategic KM process capability enables an organization to combine knowledge on markets and products with change adaptation knowledge to gain sustainable competitive advantage. Conclusion Clearly, the quest for to move beyond information management and into the realm of KM is a complex undertaking involving the development of structures that allow the firm to recognize, create, transform and distribute knowledge(Gold et al. 2001, p. 186). Consequently, the key operations of KM process capability namely; 1) acquisition,2) conversion, 3) application and ) protection need keen attention of all managers. Further, managers should strike a balance on the key dimension of knowledge namely knowledge content (explicit and tacit) and knowledge capability (process and infrastructure). KM capability is fundamental to organizational performance as Knowledge embedded in the organization’s business processes and employees? skills provide the firm with unique capabilities to deliver customers with product or service. Knowledge is therefore a unique resource which if well management can confer an organization with competitive advantage.
To ensure KM process capability support realization of the strategic mission of the organization, managers should go beyond information management into KM. This would include the development of structures that allow organizations to recognize, create, transform and distribute and protect knowledge. (Gold et al. 2001) In this regard, managers need to continuously seek better methods of executing operations strategies of the organizations that they manager be ensuring that KM operations support core operations strategies that they pursue in an effort to realize the strategic mission of organizations.
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