Strategic Knowledge Management


"The Only Way To Cope With a Changing World Is To Keep Learning"

The nature of organizational work has evolved drastically in recent years in terms of self-managed teams, de-layering, re-engineering, IT enabled working, etc. Organization's objective behind all these points is to enhance learning among the individual. These techniques identify ways that helps the organization's to learn from change (Klein, 2009). In the year 1998, Patrick Dixon in the book Future wise: six faces of global change, predicts that the organizations can cope up with the change only through advanced learning. Learning can be referred to as a phenomenon of acquiring or modifying existing knowledge, skills or value so that an individual can develop their personality with respect to that learning area (Holsapple, 2013).

Organization in the recent years has been focusing on learning methods rather than providing the monotonous training to their employees. This is because mere just giving the knowledge about work will not help the organization's to grow in this changing world. Therefore, they will have to adopt various learning criterions for their employees so that they can enhance their lifelong learning (Zack, 2009). It is important for the modern businesses to focus on organization's intellectual capital. Intellectual capital determines the collective resources of the organization that helps them to achieve competitive advantage. Intellectual capital can include the knowledge and capital the organization have developed to make their goods and services (Dalkir, 2013). It also includes the deep information regarding the company's history, processes, customers, stakeholders, etc. Intellectual capital is being broadly classified into three main capital namely, Human capital, Organizations capital and relationship capital. This capital can be elaborated briefly so that its importance can be known to the organization. Human capital includes the human resources that are very important assets for all the organization. Human capital determines the knowledge and competencies that resides within the employees of the organization. Organization's capital includes the policies, procedures, information system's capabilities of individual employees. Relationship capital includes all those business relationship that company maintains with external parties such as, clients, vendors, suppliers, etc. (Schuler and Jackson, 2008). Thus, it has become important for the businesses to maintain an equal balance of all such capital.

Soft Systems Thinking

Organization's generally adopts the technical approach and attempts to solve any conflict or issue that arises in between running their business. It is not always possible to solve the problem of organizational dynamics through technical knowledge. This is because human beings are not machines. They want their problems to be solved rationally and not with the help of machines. One such technique that is being used by the organizations to improve their intellectual capital is through Soft Systems Thinking (SST) (Ricceri, 2008). Soft system thinking is the integration of all those feelings, emotions, thoughts and sentiments that are being used by an employee within an organization. Specifically, it represents the Emotional intelligence (EQ) that is related to the person that symbolizes the internal feelings or thoughts of an individual. In the current business environment it has become important for the leaders to focus on the soft system thinking to develop organization's intellectual capital. Soft system thinking helps the organizations in developing their human capital so that they can contribute significantly in the fulfillment of organizational goals. For example, many a time it happens at a workplace those employees are not able to contribute or do their work efficiently. Thus, the management thinks that the employee is not productive and he/she should be given proper training programs so that they can develop their working (Prusak, 2009). The employees are still not able to enhance their performance. This could be understood from the above illustration that technical approach was not the solution to the problem of that employee. In fact the company should have used the soft system approach so that they could have understood the problem of the employee. It might be possible that employees would have facing the problem of isolation or they might need some friend at their workplace with whom he/she could have shared their thoughts. Thus, it is important for the company to promote soft system thinking so that they can increase their human capital. Further, SST also helps the employees and organization's to enhance their learning (Hislop, 2013). It is not always necessary that the employee can learn from scientific methods only, they can also grab knowledge by increasing their emotional intelligence so that they can understand the problem going through deep way.

(Cundill and et. al., 2012) states that soft system provides wide range of components such as historical, personal, and cultural factors that enhances the base for organizational learning. One of the most effective way through which Soft system thinking can be enhanced is through the use of proper body language. The soft system approach consists of a seven stage process that consists of: Unstructured situation of problem. In this stage the information about the problem is being gathered so that the appropriate solutions can be found out. Second stage consists of Expressed solution of problem. In this stage the pictorial design of the problem is being made so that it can be solved properly (Pasher and Ronen, 2011). Establishing root definitions is the third stage. In this stage the management need to know about the problem in the way, how the problem is to be solves, who has to solve it and why it is to be done. However, it will help the organizations to give the answers to all such questions. Fourth stage comprises conceptual models. In this, various approaches are been used so that the issues can be solved in systematic manner (Ambrosini and Bowman, 2009). Fifth stage is to compare models with reality. This will help the organization to compare their situations with that of the model. This will help the company's in getting a comparative solution to their problem. In sixth stage, the changes so made are being defined. This will help the company to implement the changes properly. The last stage involves taking corrective actions. This will help them to make appropriate changes if requires while implementing their plans. Therefore, it is important for the organizations' to take into considerations the soft system thinking so that they can enhance the intellectual capital of the organizations (Singh, 2008). Additionally, it will also help the businesses to increase the learning capability of the employees.

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Knowledge Management

Organization's adopts knowledge management so that they can enhance their learning in an effective manner. The key components that are being included in knowledge management are, communication, ideas, collaborations and innovations. It is important for the modern organization's to incorporate all these points to develop the habit of learning among the employees. Intellectual capital acts as a key driver in today's knowledge based business (López-Nicolás and Meroño-Cerdán, 2011). It is important for the organization's to promote the lifelong learning sessions for their employees so that they can train them to cope with the dynamic business environment. Businesses invest in Knowledge management because it provides them competitive advantage. To design the knowledge management system in the organization, it is important for them to consider the beliefs and perceptions of the employees so that they can plan the system effectively. The firm will have to think about the soft system technique so that they can successfully carry on with their knowledge management. The organization will have to identify the various learning styles of the individual so that they can arrange the knowledge management system accordingly. Learning style can be determined as various processes of learning that can be incorporated by an individual. Every person has their own capabilities soft system that defines their own system of learning. The company can focus on the various learning style that differentiate every individual (Chen and Huang, 2009). Organization can promote three learning style namely, Audio, Visual and Kinesthetic. In Auditory learning style, Verbal language is prime form for exchanging the information in between two people. This is the most common way through which the knowledge management system can be promoted by the organization. People that prefer such kind of learning style are more talkative as compared to average person, they are very social and they enjoy listening to other people. Organization can support such learners by conducting programs such as, seminars, group discussions, debate, speech, etc. so that they can provide effective learning methods to their employees. Additionally, this technique will also help the organization to develop the skills and competencies of their employees and they will be able to do their work efficiently. The next style that can be used by the organization is visual learning style (Zheng, Yang and McLean, 2010). In this style, the learners learn through making images and describing information in their minds. Such kind of learners prefers reading books, is detail oriented, and has a detailed awareness about colors and shapes. The learning techniques that can be used by organization with such kind of learners are presentation method, applying chart methods, diagrams, etc. This will help the company to promote the knowledge management of such learners. Additionally, the company will not have to focus much on such learners because they will try to find out the best solutions to their problems by their own. The third style that can be used by the company can be kinesthetic learning style. Such kind of learners can learn by doing their work practically. They can learn by moving around handling physical asset, etc. Such learners like to explore their surroundings and are sport lover. They always like do something unique and different so that they can learn effectively. For Kinesthetic learners, organization can arrange various workshops, training methods, educational trips, so that they can explore their surroundings. These learners can be beneficial for the organization in the way, they will try to find out the best possible solutions to the problems so that they can do their work in creative manner. Therefore, to manage the knowledge of the employees it is important for them to know about the various learning styles of the individuals (Quinn and Strategy, 2013). This will help the organization's to plan their work accordingly so that they can take into considerations the soft system thinking before planning any learning programs for the employees. Life long learning can help the employees in their knowledge management. The company can adopt various methods to enhance the life long learning of the employees. Few of the methods could be, mentoring, coaching, training, internet, etc. Thus, by adopting these methods the company can help their employees in motivating them to learn new things. Knowledge management can not be done by the organization only, it is a two way process. The employee will also have to be equally enthusiasm in learning new things. For example, many a time it happens that, the company organizes various educational programs for their employees. On the contrary the employees are least interested in attending such programs. However, this behavior of employees limits the boundaries for learning new things.  Additionally, there are many modern methods which are being developed to enhance the learning of people at workplace. These methods could be, educational planning, team learning, problem based learning, learning through case studies and so on. Nowadays various forms of communication has been developed through which the employees can enhance their learning. Moreover, the managers must see to it that communities of practice is been encouraged within the organization. They can do so generating trust and collaborations within the employees, setting goals and challenges for the individual employee, through managing dynamics, the company can encourage their communities of practice.

Intellectual capital and social capital

Organization's intellectual capital can also be developed by the social capital. Social capital is referred to as a relationship that exits between the people at the place where they work or live. Social capital is important for the organization so that they can run their businesses successfully. Social capital is the goodwill available to the individual groups. It is the integration of social relations and organizational productivity. The most common way through which organization can improve their social capital is through appropriate communication. Basically, two types of communication take place in the organization (Zack, McKeen and Singh, 2009). First is formal communication. In this type of communication, the social capital in between management and employees takes place. This improves the relationship between the top level management and the lower level management. This communication enhances the learning of an individual. The employees can easily share their ideas, opinions and suggestions with the management. This helps them to groom their personality through learning from their seniors. Additionally, it will also help them to learn techniques through which they can improve their performance as well find new ways to achieve perfection in their work (Smith and Prieto, 2008). The second type of communication is informal communication. This communication takes place in between colleagues or peers. Informal communication can help the employees in enhancing their learning in an effective way. They can learn many things from their colleagues that can help them to develop their personality. One of the advantages of this type of communication is that, employees can learn by making social relations at their workplace. Human beings are social animal. They need to have someone with whom they can share their sorrow and happiness. Social capital can improve the learning skills of the employees in an appropriate manner. The company will just have to focus on the soft system skills on the employees to know their competencies. It is not always the technical approach through which the issues of the employees can be solved. Sometimes, it is important for the organization's to understand the thoughts and internal process of the employees to solve their emotional and mental problems (Liew, 2008). For example, many a time it is been at the workplaces that due to improper social environment, people are not able to focus on their work. This in turn leads to reduced productivity and efficiency. The company's must conduct various social programs that can increase the social skills and relations of the employees. They can organize picnics, trips, management games, etc. so that it provides opportunities to the employee to interact with their colleagues and increase their social relations at work place. Therefore, social capital is essential in improving the organization's intellectual capital. The companies can enhance their social capital through increasing communication between their employees. For example, they can conduct brain storming sessions for their employees. This will help them to interact with other employee and share their experiences and knowledge.

Communities of Practice

Communities of Practices are also considered as an important form of learning. Communities of practices takes place when the group of people gets engaged in the collective learning (Lloria, 2008). For example, the team of employees working together to achieve their targets can be referred to as communities of practice. It is a social learning system. It exhibits many traits of system such as, self-organizations, complex relationships, dynamic boundaries, cultural meaning, etc. Organization need to focus on their communities of practice so that they can achieve their targets efficiently. It is mandatory for the company's to promote communities of practice. They can do so by encouraging team activities so that employees can learn to work together as a team. Team work leads to better productivity, profitability and fulfillment of organizational goals on time. The organization has to identify the ways through which modes of communities of practice can be implemented properly. This different mode could be engagement, imagination and alignment (Adger, 2010). Engagement mode is the most effective way to promote the communities of practice. The employees need to engage in activities, doing work, working together, talking, etc. Thus, engagement will help the employees in achieving their competencies and will help them in increasing their experiences. As the employees are engaging with the activities, they are also making an image of the world. For example, an employees working in an organization makes an image of the other social worker with them. This helps them to understand their colleagues in an effective manner so that they can make view for the particular person. There are many tools of imagination present with the organization, for example, television shows, languages, pictures, maps, role models, etc. Imaginations help in creating relations of identification. This helps in improving the social relations in between the people (Gutiérrez, Hilborn and Defeo, 2011). The third mode is alignment. In this mode, organization has to see to it that the activities are done in coordinated manner. The employees will have to follow proper directions so that they can do their work properly. It is not one way process of learning; it is the joint efforts of the learner as well as knowledge provider. This will help the organization to accomplish their work on time. Additionally, this is also an effective way through which the learning can be enhanced among individuals. Communities of practice help the organization to provide new methods of learning so that they can make plans for the advance development planning of an individual. It is been seen in the recent years that the organization are focusing on globalizing their business. To work internationally, the company's will have to focus efficiently on the communities of practice so that they can deal with people having diverse cultures (Cohen, 2015). It is crucial for the businesses to understand the importance of culture of the country in which they are operating as well with the people they are working. Thus, multicultural environment can lead to more creativity and innovation for the organizations. Moreover, the company can conduct programs on collective learning so that the employees will learn to get engage with more people. Communities of practice can lead to greater success for the businesses if followed properly. Its effectiveness can be seen in better productivity for the organization. Collective learning reduces conflicts and will help the organization in fulfilling their goals efficiently. It will also increase mutual understanding and cooperation between the employees and this will lead to better completion of work. Thus, organization must essentially focus on building collective learning so that they will be able to develop the learning skills and capabilities of their employees (Cundill and, 2012). Communities of practice is not a static activity. It arises with the time period as one employees goes and the another comes. Learning and Knowledge can be shared in many ways. Through sharing the knowledge with communities, an individual can find many solutions for the same. Communities of practice can enhanace the organizations intellectual capital in various form. Organizational structure is one such form. Every organization has their own structure that decides the communities of practice. For example, in centralized and bureaucratic management style, employee knowledge is suppressed, as on the other hand, the firm with the democratic environment supports and encourages employee knowledge. Communities of practice within the organization leads to innovation and creative ideas. Through participating in the group discussion and group activities, the employees can germinate better ideas for the organization. This can help the companies in achieving their goals in an effective and efficient manner.

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At the end, it can be concluded that learning not only helps the organization's to cope up with change but it also helps in the lifelong development of an individual. It can be analyzed from the above discussions that maximum time organization uses technical approach to solve problems at the work place. This does not lead to success all the time. It is important for the organization to focus on the soft system thinking of the employees that will help them to cope with the situation. Soft system thinking also seems to be important for the organizational intellectual capital as it provides the qualitative measures to solve the issues or problems of an individual. It is being also analyzed from the above findings that the soft system skills are being supported by knowledge management, social capital and communities of practices. These three attributes will play an important role in the development of organization's intellectual capital through soft system technique. Learning is a lifelong process and it will help the organization to cope up with changes in a systematic manner.  From the above discussion, it is also been reflected that the organization's will have to appropriate actions through which they can improve the learning skills of their employees. They have to communicate about the new methods and technologies being used by the organization so that they can train their employees properly. The study aims at providing the different perspective through which, learning can be enhanced. It also focuses on providing the facts through which these learning methods can be encouraged within the organization. Thus, for the integration and motivation of employees learning will play a crucial role for the development of individuals.


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