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Knowledge Management Andreas Maratheftis-Nueronic IT Consulting

Knowledge Management

The Rubik’s cube approach

By Andreas Maratheftis
Nueronic IT Consulting
www.Nueronic.com

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Knowledge Management Andreas Maratheftis-Nueronic IT Consulting

Table of Contents

1 INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................... 3
1.1 Definition of Knowledge Management........................................................ 3
1.2 KM and the real world ................................................................................ 3
1.3 The organisation and my approach............................................................ 4
2 THE KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT METHODOLOGY.................................................. 4
2.1 Benefits of KM to organisation ................................................................... 5
2.2 Aligned to Business Strategy ..................................................................... 5
2.3 The Rubik’s Cube concept ......................................................................... 6
2.3.1 Characteristics ....................................................................................... 6
2.4 The model.................................................................................................. 7
3 THE RUBIK’S CUBE CONCEPT APPLIED ..................................................................... 7
3.1 Deployment ............................................................................................... 8
3.2 Implementation .......................................................................................... 8
3.2.1 Putting it together-KM implementation recommendations. ..................... 9
3.3 Deployment Issues .................................................................................... 9
3.3.1 Dealing with change............................................................................. 10
4 CONCLUSION................................................................................................................. 10
5 REFERENCES ................................................................................................................ 11

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Knowledge Management Andreas Maratheftis-Nueronic IT Consulting

1 Introduction
The report will focus and deliver to the reader two main points:
1. What is knowledge management, why it is important for business today and
what approach was developed during this reaserach.
2. How will this approach be deployed in a real time business environment,
what are the benefits and the impact to the organisation and its employees
and the deployment issues that an organisation may encounter when
implementing KM (knowledge management).

Following a 3 month research project, I have developed a method called the Rubik’s
cube (A.Maratheftis et al,2006) KM method. During this report the concept will be
explained and further developed for the readers understanding.

1.1 Definition of Knowledge Management


There are so many definitions of knowledge management, some are similar some
are different. It really depends on how individuals perceive knowledge management;
some may perceive KM in terms of the human perspective some in terms of business
terms. I believe it should be both, the combination of the two, enables KM focused
organisations.
Thus knowledge management is a combination of the following:

“Capturing, organizing, and storing knowledge and experiences of individual workers


and groups within an organization and making this information available to others in
the organization”
(http://library.ahima.org/xpedio/groups/public/documents/ahima/pub_bok1_025042.ht
ml)

“The process of systematically and actively managing and leveraging the stores of
knowledge in an organisation is called knowledge management. It is the process of
transforming information and intellectual assets into enduring value”
(www.unisa.edu.au/pas/qap/planning/glossary.asp)

“We believe true Knowledge Management is eliciting and sharing the experience and
intelligence of everyone working in a particular process”
(www.phredsolutions.com/glossary.html)

Consequently KM involves, business processes, systems, both software and


hardware, sharing of data and information, the transformation of these into value
added assets to the organisations competitive advantage.

1.2 KM and the real world


It is a fact that the more effectively organisations acquire, use share and maintain
data, information and knowledge the more effective they become. The effectiveness
however comes down to how each organisational section effectively deploys KM.
This is however a hard concept to grasp. Due to the fact that the workers rarely
understand the concept of knowledge management and its benefits1 and moreover it
is very difficult to acquire the thoughts, beliefs, culture, perception and way of
thinking, of managers and employees, and be able to measure it and share it
effectively with other individuals or machines so that this can be efficiently replicated
by others.
However, the first step to KM should be that organisation’s should realise it’s
potential, it’s importance and perceive KM as another corporate asset and manage

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Or in some cases do not wish to share, for a number of reasons, intellectual property,
personal gain etc,

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Knowledge Management Andreas Maratheftis-Nueronic IT Consulting

each KM project like all other project and be able to deploy resource’s for its effective
design, development and implementation.

1.3 The organisation and my approach


For a readers better understanding of the concept I have decided to aooly the
Rubik’s cube method to a client- organisation the PanCyprian Company of Bakers,
based on Cyprus
Of course this study will not provide a knowledge management solution; a 3000 word
report will not solve the company’s IT issues and problems in managing and using
corporate knowledge, but it will provide a starting point and a point of reference for
managers of the organisation.
Although recommendations will be made, we have to take under consideration that
knowledge in any form is a difficult issue to deal with, let alone, implement. Thus, I
will aim and limit the scope of this report in specific segments of the company, and
thus build a foundation modules are added using an incremental and iterative
approach.

2 The Knowledge Management Methodology


The reason of this research was to develop a KM approach and use and apply that
approach (virtually) in an organisation.
However we had to first understand thoroughly what KM is and it’s lifecycle. Thus
having done research we were able to distinguish knowledge in two forms:
• Tacit knowledge; focused on the subconscious and internal human
perception, or thinking, and is often not realised by the people
• Explicit knowledge; this more of a tangible knowledge which individuals hold
explicitly. This is easier to communicate to others because it can exist in a
number of forms and especially if it exists I digital or documented forms.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_management

In addition to the above we had to identify the lifecycle of knowledge. The following
describes this in full: (Bergeron B,2003)

• Create/acquisition – This is were knowledge is created or gathered. This can


be in the form of multimedia, documents or any other form of information
• Modification- Information is modified to suit corporate needs
• Use- The information is deployed and used across the organisation
• Archiving- The information is stored to in physical or digital form so that it can
be re-used again.
• Transfer- This is the actual sharing of information between individuals or
machines.
• Translation/ repurposing- The information is translated into a form which can
be transferred and shared for different purposes in a company.

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• Access- Information is vital, and more often business critical. Thus, access to
that information has to be considered very carefully. Policies have to be
established, who has access to what data and from were, and privileges have
to given to employees depending on their job role and what information they
may need to access.
• Disposal- The way organisations, dispose of information when is no longer
needed or is no longer vital for business continuity.

2.1 Benefits of KM to organisation


Having identified what KM it is important to prove why KM is so vital to today’s digital
economy. As a summary KM can offer the following:
• KM can offer competitive advantage
• May help to reduce cost and increase organisational efficiency
• Enable’s organisation’s to be flexible enough to react and adapt to changing
business and customer requirements
• Enhancement of innovation and creativity
• Ensuring of sustainable excellence
• Improves “working on the go” by implementing knowledge repositories.
• Increases employee productivity, and makes management decisions more
efficient.
The list can grow into an enormous size. Certainly in the information driven society of
today, organisation cannot ignore KM. Of course not organisations have the
resources and capabilities to build KM systems, but that does not necessarily mean
that corporations should close the eyes to the benefits of KM.

2.2 Aligned to Business Strategy


In order for KM to be measurable and be aligned to the business strategy the
following need to be applied and taken under consideration:
1. How would the KM initiative change the organisation in terms of how it
conducts daily business function, how will it change the productivity and the
organisation’s employees and how will it affect the current business
processes.
2. What technologies are available for implementing KM what are their
advantages and their drawbacks?
3. What is the likely ROI? Is KM really feasible?
It is however clear that KM is not a concept that can be applied instantly, and there
are no measuring agents that will determine whether it is successful or not.
Based on our methodology and the approach developer we concluded that
organisations must adhere to the following:
• Develop deep sharing relationships internally between departments, and
externally between clients, suppliers and other business partnerships.
• Improve information flow, between suppliers, clients, shareholders and the
community
• Keep up to date with technological, social, political economic and cultural
trends
• Embed knowledge into business processes and management decision
making.
• Embed knowledge in products. e.g. in user guides, and enhanced knowledge-
intensive services.
• Knowledge sharing - learning networks, Communities of knowledge, online
documents, procedures and discussion forums. Intranets.

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Knowledge Management Andreas Maratheftis-Nueronic IT Consulting

The above can be the first step which must be fulfilled in order for knowledge
management to work. Although, knowledge management is all about information,
data and how these are shared between individuals in an organisation with the
use of technology were it is needed, it is also important that senior management
is “on board” with the concept, and be able to set examples of best practise for
employees to follow, thus automatically setting up a roadmap for a successful
implementation.

2.3 The Rubik’s Cube concept


During our research, we were able to develop a methodology, an approach to
implementing KM in an organisation. This approach was based on a number of
concept’s, such as the fact that small pragmatic approaches, are often more effective
than high IT investments.
Moreover we believe that in order to solve large problems, that requirements can
change, without warning, we decided that an adaptive, iterative and incremental
approach is what could be the solution to the problem.
In addition to that, we envisaged, that if KM is deployed as a new system, high IT
investments and “off the shelf” software are not the based choice, but organisations
should focus on their existing systems and try and utilise that in full and perhaps
deploy bespoke software that are tailor-made to the organisations needs.
What's more, during the development of this approach, we have taken under
consideration that, it is not the technological infrastructure of the organisation that
determines the success of a KM implementation but rather, the cultural and
organisational readiness, the openness to change and the urgency and need for a
KM change which has to built into the organisation as an asset and a routine rather
than a roadmap to follow.

2.3.1 Characteristics
The Rubik’s cube concept has the following characterises:

• A global company wide framework of knowledge which is made up of local


departmental frameworks
• Each local framework is unique and uses tools to analyse, acquire store,
maintain and share/feed information to the global framework
• The model focuses on socio-technical issues and cultural trends rather than
just technological solutions
• Each cube will represent a department. Each cube will be unique and not
complete (e.g. all colour sides aligned). Each cube will have it’s own
characteristics in terms of what knowledge is acquired, how it is acquired
analysed and stored, but will use common tools such us thesaurus,
repositories, metadata, and taxonomies to organise and share data.
• Each cube/department will feed the central cube/knowledge repository.
• Included in the global framework :
o Controlled vocabulary
o Classification system / Taxonomy
o Information Architecture
o Knowledge map
o Organized data structure for adding or linking related additional
o Global search functionality

In this case locality is important. We believe that it is important for organisation to


firstly elicit all knowledge at a local level, in small teams, using global techniques
applied in a locality of reference status, rather than using a global framework
deployed across departmental structures, branches etc.

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Knowledge Management Andreas Maratheftis-Nueronic IT Consulting

2.4 The model


Based on the above, the following can be drawn. This model put’s into context
the concepts and characteristics discussed above and depicts how the
framework functions.

Local Framework
Local Framework Department X
Department Y -Thesaurus
-Thesaurus -Taxonomy
-Taxonomy -Data Dictionary
-Data Dictionary -Local systems

adata
-Local systems
Local Framework

, met
Department S
In

ata
fo

tad -Thesaurus
rm

, data
e
at

m
ta, -Taxonomy
io

da
n,

, -Data Dictionary
on

ation
da

ati
ta

rm -Local systems
,m

fo
In
Inform
et
ad
at

Infor
a

matio
n, da Information, data, metadata
ta, m
etada
ta

Local Framework
Local Framework
Department Z
Department U
-Thesaurus ata
-Taxonomy etad -Thesaurus
,m -Taxonomy
-Data Dictionary ata Infor
n,d matio -Data Dictionary
o n, da
-Local systems ati ta, m -Local systems
form Global Knowledge etada
In ta
Framework:
-Controlled vocabulary
-Classification system
-Taxonomy
-Information Architecture
-Knowledge map Local Framework
-Organized data Department V
Local Framework structure for adding or
-Thesaurus
Department E linking related additional
-Taxonomy
-Thesaurus -Global search
functionality -Data Dictionary
-Taxonomy
-KM System -Local systems
-Data Dictionary
-Local systems

To start with all departments, partnerships, branches, and subsidiaries of the


organisation, have unique ways (but common methodologies, techniques and
tools), to acquire/create, manage and share knowledge in all available forms.
Once at the correct form knowledge is transferred in a central repository (Global
Knowledge framework), where knowledge2 is stored, managed, shared and
distributed across all levels in the organisation, externally and internally.

3 The Rubik’s Cube concept applied


The question now, is how the approach developed above will be applied to the
organisation of choice.
The first steps would be the following:
1. Knowledge of the organisation and its business environment.

2
This can be in any form, tacit, explicit and in any form, information, data, pictures, video,
audio etc.

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Knowledge Management Andreas Maratheftis-Nueronic IT Consulting

a. The Pancyprian Company of Bakers has been operating in Cyprus


since the 1970’s and is one of the biggest bakery companies in the
island
b. The company has a number of mills, head offices and 31
branches/selling outlets across the island
c. The company has a number of departments in its head offices, but
also on the production floor, and its mills.
d. The organisation has formed throughout the years partnerships at a
local level, with existing businesses and at an international level with
other bakery or other commercial organisation.
2. Inside knowledge of the company infrastructure and management
3. Knowledge of business process and how knowledge is currently created
acquired and shared. This however may already take place but it is not a
formalised approach or to the knowledge of employees and management.
4. Knowledge of employees, their needs and their perception of the
organisation. This is were the company has to take notice whether the
employees would be accessible to change and how that change would take
place, or if the employees are very resistant to change, the company has to
incorporate gradual change management in the approach.

3.1 Deployment
The Pancyprian Company of bakers and any company can deploy the approach
above three levels:
1. Internally- This will cover the departmental levels. So in effect data will be
gathered at a local level, (in departments, such as, hr, sales, accounting,
marketing, production) and then shared at the global framework level with
other sectors of the company.
2. Externally- This will cover, sales outlets, branches, mills, factories and
subsidiary companies
3. External-Local level- This will cover local partnerships the company has, with
other bakery and other commercial businesses
4. External- International level- This will cover partnership’s at an international
level mostly in Europe and the Middle East.

This means that at all local level’s each “cube” has autonomy over how knowledge is
created and acquired and has the responsibility to ‘feed’ that knowledge into the
global cube thus enabling the management and sharing of corporate knowledge.

3.2 Implementation
The company when implementing the approach above has to take consideration of
the following:
1. Knowledge mapping- describes what knowledge exists in an organisation,
who has it, how it is created and acquired and how it flows in the organisation.
Knowledge mapping allows the organisation to find gaps, in technology,
business processes, human processes and collaborations activities and us
KM to provide a better solution.
http://kmwiki.wikispaces.com/Knowledge+mapping?token=1e3da9257fb46bfc
160a2010b6bfb431
2. User planning. The approach above aims to introduce KM in multiple
locations and to a variety of users. This is to ensure that the process is
introduced in parallel in order to see which sector can phase difficulties in
accepting change rather than having to deal with acceptance issues in a later
development of the programme.
3. Set knowledge champions. The company must find ‘partners’ that believe in
the need of knowledge management, that have witness practically it’s

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usefulness and assign them as champions so that other employees will be


able to be positively influenced
4. Measurable indicators. The company should aim to find problem which KM
can be used to solve, and can produce visual and measurable results.

3.2.1 Putting it together-KM implementation recommendations.


The following recommendations should be taken under consideration by the
company:
1. To start with use existing technology in it’s full potential. Use new technology
where it is needed the most. I would advise the company to use web based
application to share knowledge because it is more practical to do so. Web
applications can be used at all levels (described above) and will provide
transparency throughout the KM lifecycle.
2. The approach is flexible enough and adaptive to suit each level. The
company should allow each local level to pass through the KM lifecycle with
its own methods and tools, but be strict in the form in which KM is fed to the
global level.
3. Each cube must have unique characteristic and not a single framework must
be applied. Each cube has its own people, with different perceptions and
culture, different business processes and goals to work to. The company
must appreciate this uniqueness and recognise that knowledge management
is more of a personal activity rather just an exchange of tangible information.
4. Management should be actively involved and set goals for employees and the
organisation
5. KM is not a different process but KM should be embedded in existing and
new business processes.
6. Make sure that the KM lifecycle is adhere to and that it is within the current
legislation
7. Provide motivations for employees to use KM and related system and assign
knowledge champions at all levels, from management to simple employees.
8. Enlarge job roles and make each role KM driven.
9. Involve all staff from management to simple employees in all stages of KM
from introduction to deployment. Interviews, workshops and surveys usually
help

3.3 Deployment Issues


During deployment of the system, the company should be aware of the following
issues:
• Cultural changes
o How urgent is the need for change?
o Who will this change affect?
o How it will affect them?
o Will this change be acceptable by all employees?
o If not what measure can be taken?
o Staff training and development?
o Change in job roles?
• Process changes
o How will KM change the business processes?
o New business processes?
o How are these process going to change in the local and global level?

• Technological changes
o What systems are to be involved?
o Percentage of legacy systems VS bespoke systems?
o Additional technical and development support?

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o Need for more storage and processing power?

All these changes need to be considered during and before the deployment of KM,
due to the fact that some of these may well affect the entire feasibility of the KM
concept.

3.3.1 Dealing with change


Some ways of overcoming change are the following:

• Gain commitment by all, including management;


o Start slowly; initially at a local level
• Select qualified “champion of change”. This can be a KM champion in parallel
• Overcome inertia based on reluctance to relinquish established procedures;
• Successfully blend old & new approaches, staff & technology;
• Overcome selling barriers. Find measurable indicators that will help to sell the
concept, facts, previous implementation and success stories.
• Emotional involvement; Dealing with employees on a personal level will help
to nullify any emotional concerns
• Worried about organisational change, loss of power, control, and prestige.
Provide motivations and provide task oriented job roles
• No formal methodology or standards. Providing a methodology and an
approach to implementing the concepts above. This will minimize risk and
formalise the introduction and implementation of KM.

(Simon, Holloway Holloway Consulting,2001 )

4 Conclusion
The Rubik’s cube concept was developed in order to provide an approach and a
methodology in implementing KM in an organisation.
The concept is based on a pragmatic approach in which the introduction and
deployment of KM starts slowly on a local level, which is represented by an
unorganised cube. Each cub has its own unique characteristics and methods with
dealing with the KM lifecycle. However each cube is required to ‘feed’ knowledge into
the central cube which knowledge is organised, maintained and shared at the
corporate level, both internally and externally.
I believe that this approach can be easily applied to any company, despite the fact
that KM is a hard concept to grasp, this is based on the fact that the approach is easy
enough to understand by all levels of employees, it is based on using existing and
new technologies, systems and concepts, it involves all stakeholders throughout the
KM lifecycle, it promotes the use of KM in all business function and processes and
provides ways of gradually dealing with change management. In addition to that, by
introducing KM progressively and by following a step by step approach we recognise
the fact that in some cases this deployment may not be successful; this allows us to
learn from the mistakes made and help to make the approach more robust and aid in
nullifying any related risks and make the process more adaptive to changing
requirements.

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Knowledge Management Andreas Maratheftis-Nueronic IT Consulting

5 References
• Andreas Maratheftis, Nalini Edwards, David Gilbert, The Rubik’s Cube KM
methodology, Knowledge Management presentation, 2006
• Simon Holloway, Going for IM White paper, Holloway Consulting,2001
• Bergeron, Bryan P.Essentials of knowledge management / Bryan Bergeron.p.
cm. -- (Essentials series)ISBN 0-471-28113-1,John Wiley and sons Inc,2003
• http://library.ahima.org/xpedio/groups/public/documents/ahima/pub_bok1_025
042.html, Accessed 15/06/2006
• www.unisa.edu.au/pas/qap/planning/glossary.asp, Accessed 15/06/2006
• www.phredsolutions.com/glossary.html, Accessed 15/06/2006
• http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knowledge_management Accessed 20/06/2006
• http://kmwiki.wikispaces.com/Knowledge+mapping?token=1e3da9257fb46bfc
160a2010b6bfb431, Accessed 22/06/2006

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