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Knowledge Management Case Studies

Knowledge Management Case Studies

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12/18/2012

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Knowledge Management: Frameworksand Case Studies
By Admin
Knowledge Management: Frameworks and Case Studies
 
 by Madanmohan Rao; August 9, 2010Editor, KM Chronicleshttp://bit.ly/TU12l http://twitter.com/MadanRao A two-day workshop on evolution of knowledge management and organisational case studieswas held recently in Bangalore at the campus of Xavier Institute of Management andEntrepreneurship (www.xime.org
 
). Workshop leaders included KM practitioners, authors andacademics, and the attendees were from the private and public sector.One of the attendees remarked that average age in his organisation was 55, and he expected thatknowledge retention after employee retirement would be a huge problem. Another attendee wasof the opinion that KM works better in private sector companies than public sector or government organisations. Yet another opinion expressed was that KM seems to work better inyounger organisations than older ones!Speakers at the workshop showcased how KM has benefited organisations in a number of ways:speedier response to customer queries (Xerox), bringing operational knowledge to onshoreengineers (Schlumberger), reducing operational costs (Chevron), using experiences for future use(World Bank), reduced knowledge attrition despite a retiring workforce (Harvard Pilgrim), andquantifiable effort savings in accounts/projects (Infosys).KM Frameworks
 
Prof. Kanti Srikantaiah (http://amzn.to/cJwOYs) from Dominican University kicked off theworkshop by explaining key drivers of KM today: rapid product change (every six months, not just 18 months), need for innovation, globalisation, and attrition. He traced the alphabet soup of antecedents of KM: DBMS, MIS, DSS, ERP, JIT, TQM, BPR, benchmarking, datamining andcompetitive intelligence.KM has evolved in three phases, according to Kanti. The first phase revolved around best practices and lessons learned, and was IT centric (tools, Internet/Intranet). The second phase wasdefined by the view that ³knowledge assets are no good if the people can not use them,´ and wasdominated by a human relations movement: CoPs, organisational culture, formal/informal,learning organisation, tacit knowledge. The third phase was centred more on discovery (³It¶s nogood if people can¶t find it´) ± with a focus on taxonomy and a growing inclusion of information
 
 professionals. (Interestingly, KM author Nancy Dixon has her own version of three phases of evolution of KM: seehttp://bit.ly/ac5wJT.)Kanti also addressed why people may not share knowledge: the organisation has no formal process or dialogue space, employees do not know what they know, the organisation¶senvironment may be excessively competitive, there is lack of trust and time, and there is no air of curiosity in the organisation. Organisational transformations needed to create knowledge todayinclude comparison, connections, and conversation, Kanti summed up.I explained the role of tools in KM initiatives, running through classifications of knowledge processes and roles, activities for each, and relevant tools. I covered the ³alphabet soup´ of KMtools, in three phases of evolution: content, collaboration and narrative (social media).I showed the power of global social media with a couple of slides of tweets, re-tweets andrealtime feedback about the workshop, which is always an eye-opener to those who have never  before seen the power of Twitter! I also covered upto 15 reasons why emphasis only ontechnology or tools can cause KM initiatives to fail (more details in my KM books:http://bit.ly/TU12l
 
).Case Study I: Infosys
 
A. Latha, Group Head for KM at Infosys, presented an excellent case study of its KM journeywhich has won multiple MAKE Global/Asia/India awards. She said key drivers of KM are pervasion of knowledge infusion in decision making, and need for knowledge stocks and flows.KM scope and scale should be broadened and deepened in organisations. For instance, strategic planning usually involved a conclave for top management for three days - but this year Infosysopened it up to newer employees also via Knowledge Cafes.The KM initiative at Infosys is fueled by its cross-disciplinary aspects: cognitive sciences,organisational behaviour, information sciences, epistemology, and economics (eg. theory of value exchange). KM eventually should become a regular part of work. The ultimate objective of a formal KM programme, according to Latha, should be: Build, Own, Operate, Disappear! KM is a journey,not a programme or project.KM at Infosys has helped with quicker responses to market changes and client needs, anddealing with people movement/turnover in projects. Key success factors for KM include highlevel sponsorship, mid-level support and drive, and participation at all levels. Managers must setthe example here; one of the Infosys managers in China set a good example to employees by personally committing to contribute knowledge assets.At the same time, organisations should accept that only a small percentage of knowledge can becodified. The extent of codification needs to be tempered with organisational realities, advised
 
Latha. ³It is critical to let go of old knowledge,´ she added; knowledge currency should berecognised, and eventually some knowledge becomes outdated (eg. Y2K solutions).The launch of KM in Infosys was sponsored by the then CEO of the company. Infosys has a KMsteering committee with regular reviews of KM maturity, mapping knowledge gaps in processes,architecture, KRAs and measures.Today, Infosys has a Body of Knowledge as well as a KM Showcase on InfyTV, an internalchannel. Infosys based its KM journey on the four principles of sharing: reciprocity, repute,altruism, trust.Organisations should also focus on ³stealth´ initiatives which do not require changemanagement, eg. Kmail, Project Snapshots at Infosys. The company has an automated tool calledInfosys KMail ± employees send queries first to this specific id; and a database is searched for responses.As for metrics, Latha said KM measurement is primarily to feed to the KM culture anddemonstrate quick wins. Pockets of KM gains are measurable. A pre-launch audit identified barriers to knowledge sharing (who to ask, where to look, too many portals, too muchinformation, poor quality, too busy, not a priority, geographic spread).Without proper planning and evolution, KM approaches tend to get into a ³whirlpool of valueerosion´ due to lack of vision, alignment, consistency and synergy. KM initiatives cannot just betranslated from one office of a company to another office in another country ± the local culturesand business practices need to be studied.Today, the KM initiative at Infosys is active in 4,000 knowledge areas, reflecting the growth of technologies and business offerings. The company has filed a patent for its mechanism of knowledge assessment and ratings called Knowledge Currency Unit. Infosys also has a brandmanager specifically for the KM group, whose brand personality is defined as reliable,responsive and sensitive.Over the past dozen years, KM at Infosys has evolved over a number of phases: e-learning,Sparsh Intranet (pre-1998); KM launch, KShop (1999-2002); KM in projects, accounts; blogs(2003-2006); integrated framework, Wiki, federated search, InfyTV (2007 onwards); and KM brand measurement, deepening engagement in geographies (planned).³Evolve your strategy over time. Find the balance between decentralisation and centralisation.Bring in outside consultants,´ Latha added. An adaptive architecture also helps (eg. with opensource components such as T-Wiki, MediaWiki). ³For promoting KM, start with incentives, thenswitch to recognition,´ Latha advised.Case Study II: Honeywell
 

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