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Thursday, April 29, 2010

community of practice

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Knowledge Management - Keys to Successful Communities of Practice (Networks)
By Chris Collison
community of practice

How can I make my community practice truly effective?

How do I prevent my network becomes "notwork"?

Community practice (networks) lie at the heart of knowledge management in most successful organizations. They are a source of informal knowledge exchange. Usually, the community through a series of steps that they have developed. This article, taken from fieldbook knowledge management bestseller by the author, identify the key steps involved in creating and maintaining a successful community of practice, providing practical guidance and tips for every part of the life cycle.

Guide below is taken from the book "Learning to Fly - Practical knowledge management from leading and learning organizations" (Chris collison and Geoff Parcell), and set to launch a number of steps, energy and maintain a community of practice (networks) within the organization.

1. Plan
Assemble a list of potential participants. Use the directions - asking individuals if they can recommend someone else in the organization who should participate. Consider the broader membership to introduce diversity. Is your network benefits from having members NOT closely associated with your domain of interest - to bring a different perspective?

2. Decide: go / no-go
Check for duplication or overlap with other networks / groups, verifying the network needs and to make clear to go / no-go decision.
Will realistic scope, or subject area is too vast for a single network? Take some soundings from potential members and consider splitting to form two or more sub-networks where appropriate.

Preparation

3. Start-up workshop held face to face
Ensure that this includes social activities to build relationships and trust. If most interactions are possible through e-mail or phone, it is important to build relationships face to face.

4. The draft charter "" collective
Develop a charter "simple", which may include:

* Reason and network coverage,
* Key roles (facilitator, sponsor etc.),
* Expectations in terms of people's time commitments (that members need help in securing "air cover" from their manager?)
* Code "of conduct" - how members will work together, and the key processes / tools,
* Feeling of "what looks like a success", and any appropriate KPIs. (But avoid over-burdening the network with the steps in the early stages of growth)


5. Consider a tool to support
Check the available tools and their distribution in all members, especially for networks that cross organizational boundaries.

6. Appoint a facilitator
Network Facilitator responsibilities, some of which, in practice, can share with others in the network, may include:

organize the meeting * network / teleconference;
* Maintain network distribution lists;
* Own and ensure maintenance of shared information / knowledge resources;
* Monitoring the effectiveness of the network, and stimulate and encourage members of the network when appropriate;
* Acting as a focal point for networking, both internally and for people outside the network


Note - the network does not need an expert facilitator "subject". Far more important is the ability of people to involve and include others, and worked behind the scenes to keep the network "on the boil".

7. Set your e-mail distribution list and send an e-mail launched
Establish an e-mail distribution list for your network comprising the potential membership names identified. This should facilitate further communication.
Network facilitator should be identified as the owner of this, and can add or remove people from their own distribution.
Send e-mail early to start a dialogue.

Building momentum

8. Seed the discussion with some questions
Forming behavior by asking questions on behalf of members with specific needs (having a member do it myself if possible).
In the early stages is important for the response. Facilitators must be ready to pick up the phone and press for answers behind the scenes.

9. Publicize the network
What's in your organization's communications media? Can you write a short news article in the internal or external magazine which describes the relevant network and its purpose?

10. Quick win Ads
When you get answers to questions, or the transfer of ideas between members, celebrate and make sure that everyone knows

11. Monitor the activities ...
Monitors forum for discussion / Q & A effectiveness:

* Frequency of contributions,
* Frequency response.
* The number of unanswered questions
* For a larger network - the number of joiners / graduates


12. Maintaining connectivity
Schedule regular teleconferences, summarizing success, develop a list of "frequently asked questions" and shared team space / website.

Renew commitment

13. Fix membership
For large networks, send an e-mail to existing members reminding them to tell you if they want removed from the list. Better to have a small group of committed members, from the larger group with variable commitment.

14. Hold face-to-face meetings
Consider an annual face to face meeting to renew relationships and introduce new members

15. Remain focused on business issues
Continue to ask the questions and answers - to publish more success stories.

16. Review performance
How do the network connection with the performance contract, mission, KPIs? Is there still regular examples of success stories?

17. Test of commitment
Do not be afraid to threaten to "turn off" the network and test the response of members. People will soon object if they strongly believe in it!

Is it time to "sunset" of your community? Or to reinvent it?
Consider Options
Decide for the future:

* Continue?
* Celebrate & close?
* Redefine the delivery / scope?
* For those into the sub-network?


Conclusion

Launching and supporting successful communites of practice is one of the most effective way to maintain your investment in knowledge management. It takes thought and effort to start, but with the right people, and the steps mentioned above, they can bring KM to life in every organization.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Learning Communities

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Professional Learning Communities - What Are They and How Do They Work?
Learning Communities
Professional Learning Communities is intended to promote collaborative learning between educators and other important people in similar working environment. This brings to educators, administrators and other partners to work together as a group based on their field. Professional learning community program can show you how to work as a community not only improve the curriculum, that enhance the learning experience overall. By working together in this community, you are responsible for their own results. In a professional learning community focus is on learning and performance rather than just on teaching.

More specifically, the professional learning community is designed to produce student learning outcomes and achievement. This includes developing an action plan a special school for classroom educators and school sites or areas of expertise.

Reformist approaches to the education system can be profitable if done correctly. Some schools offer graduate programs of professional learning communities. It can help people who are interested in education to become aware of how to create a more challenging curriculum and collaborative learning techniques and methodologies. Type of training can really transform a school, or organization that may be ready for reform.

It is important to know about diverse teaching styles and explore your own learning style and how it impacts team dynamics of professional and student / teacher relationship to learning is important. Another significant aspect of professional learning communities is how they affect both the organization's management for the organization and classroom settings. specific educational programs and book explores the changing role of school restructuring and learning practices, as well as the conceptual framework and the research behind the implementation of programs and practices that lead to the highest student achievement and staff development in the most progressive educational environment. To take advantage of a professional learning community environment is important to study this aspect as well.

Educators in the reform measures of action-oriented system using the results to explain what each student should learn, learning to monitor in a timely manner, each student gives a systematic intervention, and using collective inquiry / feedback to create a collaborative atmosphere of continuous improvement. The main purpose of professional learning communities is to create a clear and compelling vision of how an organization should be shifted to help all students learn, whether it be private or public school.

Some of the important goals of professional learning communities are as follows. To clarify the goals of educators and developed a mission statement based action, to evaluate the importance of Systems Thinking and Constructivist Teaching in the schools, and to clarify and reach consensus about what students should learn. It is also important for educators in the community to underscore the importance of meshing personal learning style and create a safe environment for effective communication. personal learning and communication styles play a key role in an effective way of learning is due to different learning styles affect group performance. Overall, it is clear that the study group can be very valuable for everyone involved including students, educators, and schools. This creates a new environment where people can work together and understand which methods are useful and which need improvement.

Teacher Education Institute (TEI) offers rigorous, graduate-level professional development courses for K-12 classroom teachers. For more about TEI, professional learning communities, visit http://www.teachereducation.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Vince_Welsh

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Benefits Of Knowledge Management

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Benefits Of Knowledge Management - An Overview
By Balaji B Platinum Quality Author

Benefits Of Knowledge Management
Whenever you decide on investing in a new strategy, program, process, or project, you need to make sure that it is really worth investing and value-adding. You also need to analyze the cost-benefits of such an investment and the return or value that you get out of that investment. These are some issues that need to be considered before going in for knowledge management initiatives.

Today's increasingly difficult economic times pose the need for cost-effective initiatives such as knowledge management programs and practices. Organization heads always need a clear understanding of the bottom line Benefits Of Knowledge Management before they invest in such initiatives. The Benefits Of Knowledge Management can be categorized into three which include knowledge benefits, intermediate benefits, and organizational benefits.

A typical example would be of an organization such as a manufacturing firm or an academic institution or a government agency which has numerous physical files. Categorization and segregation into working databases allows the employees who need specific information to access the databases more efficiently through word or category searches instead of having to sift through so many folders. Updating of these databases will also result in having the most recent and relevant information and knowledge stored and easily accessible by any employee who may need any specific information. .

The category of organizational benefits includes better/faster innovation, improved customer service, reduced knowledge loss, and increased productivity/better performance. These are the benefits which will have an impact on the way an organization thinks and operates to achieve its objective, for example, to provide quality education, quality products and services, or quality programs to bring about the good of civil society.

In a constantly evolving and competitive environment, organizations are faced with the problem of having to continuously improve in the area of creating innovative products and service that would meet the constantly evolving needs and wants of their customers. Patronage from customers is the only way ahead for the success of any organization both small and big.

Considering the huge number of physical files in an organization example, as the databases are organized the decision maker has the necessary information and knowledge to substantiate or justify research and development initiatives that leads to more innovations which in turn leads to the creation of new products and services.

These initiatives may seem a bit costlier for the company in the beginning stages. But if these initiatives when looked at on a long-term perspective help the organization to create products and services and then sell them to a market that needs or wants them. This helps the organization to actually reap the rewards of satisfied customers translating into increased sales revenues which helps offset the initial capital sunk into the research and development initiatives.

To learn how to create, manage and publish content using different types of content management systems, solutions & softwares visit Content Management Systems & Solutions To access the online version of the above article, visit : About Benefits Of Knowledge Management

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Balaji_B

Monday, April 26, 2010

Digital Storytelling

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Digital Storytelling
Telling Your Story Through Digital Storytelling
By Donna Atherton

Digital storytelling is a phrase commonly used to describe the movement that uses digital computer tools to help ordinary people tell their own real-life stories, and combines the ancient art of oral storytelling and the modern multimedia tools to deliver tales using images, sound, music, and voice. Digital storytelling gives the narrator the opportunity to tell their story in their own voice, and allow them to share their experience and perception in an extraordinary way. A digital story is approximately a short 3 to 5 minute audio narrative.

In 2000 I was selected to participate in a Fellows program at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and with the team of other Fellows we learned the process of making a digital story and later made a story of community development. I later had several opportunities to make personal digital stories telling my experiences dealing with different life challenges. Professionally, as a clinical Social Worker and coach digital stories have been used with at-risk adolescent females on mother and daughter relationships, being placed in foster care and the affects of their parent's drug addiction.

The latest digital story I had the opportunity to complete was about my husband getting diagnosed with kidney failure, and how his illness change our lives. The story reflected on the weekly doctor's appointments, many hospitalizations, and how his illness affected our social life and activities. Although, the story was based on more of my perception of his feelings and some of the things he said. The process allowed me to reflect and understand my feelings as his caregiver, and proved to be emotionally healing. I could watch my story over and over and gained more insight to my feelings and to better prepare and understand my new role as his caregiver.

Digital storytelling allows the narrator to share their story with other people, where they can get a glimpse into the narrators' worldview. Digital Storytelling is a great tool to use to help people tell their stories in their own voice. The experience is a freeing experience and helps the narrator gain a new or different perspective to their situation, and allows the narrator to re-write or re-author their story to work towards change or a different outcome.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Donna_Atherton
   

Friday, April 23, 2010

Story Telling

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Story Telling
Story Telling As a Business Tool
By R.G. Srinivasan

Long long ago, it was the time when time itself stood still

That was the time this story of story telling began

When everyone listened to the story and people learned

And that was the time people were also very happy

Because they were listening to a story.


Stories have been the purveyor of knowledge from time immemorial. Much before the advent of writing and publishing story telling was used as a means of communicating essential knowledge and preserve it for the future generations.

Our ancient elders were wise men who understood that for knowledge to be kept alive, absorbed and passed on from generation to generation they needed an interesting methodology. That became the art of story telling. The historical facts were woven into interesting fiction which held the attention and curiosity of man and made them pass it on to their next generation.

Every culture has its rich fables woven with the moral fabric necessary for the evolution of a civil society.

With the development of writing skills, from stone and clay tablets to the modern printing technology and now the digital publishing stories never lost their power in communicating and has remained one of the best sources for transfer of knowledge effectively.

Now leadership is all about using story telling to craft their success . Take any successful business or political leader and you would find that they are master story tellers. "The essence of American presidential leadership, and the secret of presidential success, is storytelling."--Evan Cornog in 'The Power and the Story: How the Crafted Presidential Narrative Has Determined Political Success from George Washington to George W. Bush'; A powerful statement indeed about story telling.
So how can we ordinary mortals use story telling to our advantage and success?

Start everything you do whether you are writing or speaking with a short story, a personal anecdote or an interesting event.

Instead of reeling out impressive statistics tell a story with a human touch to emphasize the same point. It is more interesting why someone bought your products than the number of people who bought it.

Read plenty of interesting stories and episodes for all occasions and weave them in appropriate places instead of long drawn narratives to convey your message.

Put emotion behind the story to make it more appealing.

Make the story telling a lot of fun. This will break the monotony of dry business presentations.

Use the story to create a grand vision about your business, a larger than life image about your brand and as motivational tool.

Use story telling to show you are person in the flesh and blood with the same weaknesses similar dispositions as the audience to get close to their hearts.

Use your creativity in story telling to shape up opinions and decisions which you want.
The better story teller wins. So plan your story. Polish it up. Don't miss a chance to tell the story. "You are the storyteller of your own life, and you can create your own legend or not."--Isabel Allende.

R.G. Srinivasan is a Certified Trainer, Writer and Author with more than two decades of managerial experience. He also writes a regular blog on home-business resources which you may check out at http://www.home-businessresources.blogspot.com for online marketing tips, resources, opportunities and online promotional strategies

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=R.G._Srinivasan

Thursday, April 22, 2010

E-Learning

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e-Learning: Hype or Hip?

Many times customers and potential customers ask me whether eLearning is just a passing fad. This is an excellent question that warrants some discussion. My experience with eLearning and more especially with custom eLearning content development has been an extremely positive
one. Unfortunately some companies are dismissing the concept of eLearning because they have had a negative experience with it. Recently, I came across a discussion on the Support Insight discussion forum that described eLearning as a hyped solution to training.

I have had the opportunity to speak to many people about their experience with eLearning and
the majority of skeptics and naysayer have one thing in common. Predominantly they have all
had a negative experience with the development of training materials. The common theme that I
have seen is that most of the development work was done without completing a thorough needs
analysis. In addition, many companies are guilty of selecting an eLearning vendor without doing
the necessary research about what the industry offers and what criteria they should use when
selecting an eLearning vendor. The product offerings in the eLearning industry are extremely
diverse as are the skills and experience that eLearning vendors' possess.

It is important to determine what your needs as a customer is and what role vendor selection will play in your ultimate success or failure. I would recommend that you read my short white paper entitled
'Selecting an eLearning vendor: A guide to making an informed decision', that describes the most
important considerations that need to be made when selecting an eLearning vendor.
I can't stress how important needs analysis is to developing successful eLearning materials such
as customized interactive eLearning courses, multimedia reference materials or analytical
technical toolkits. Unfortunately many customers don't take the time to think about what their
needs and objectives are. In addition they often select eLearning developers who overlook this
step or do a cursory high level needs analysis focused primarily on selling bells and whistles to
the customer, rather than focusing on the customer's business needs and limitations. Yes, it is
important to note that eLearning does have limitations, primarily driven by the fact that not all
customers are equal when it comes to technology. This limitation is an important consideration
when you are considering eLearning as a training method.

The initial needs assessment should identify the objectives of the eLearning program, course,
materials and who will be using it. How will they access the materials? What technology will they
be using? Does it make sense to include interactive bandwidth-intensive elements such as video
and audio? Unfortunately, some eLearning content developers overlook these considerations
and as a result develop a solution that disappoints the customer. This then results in the failure
being laid at the door of eLearning, rather than at the door of the actual eLearning vendor and the
customer.

Developing an eLearning project has to be done by building a relationship with an eLearning
vendor that has extensive experience in the industry. eLearning is not a silver bullet that can
solve all of your training needs. In many cases eLearning can not eliminate the need for face to
face training. In these cases eLearning can compliment on site training as part of a blended
learning approach.

In most companies there will be people that will resist any computer based instruction. In fact, all
companies have people who resist any change as a rule. You must recognize this threat to the development of any eLearning materials prior to beginning any projects and realize that you will
need to identify a champion, project sponsor and department leaders that can assist you in
mitigating and mediating any resistance to new training initiatives.

An easy way to mitigate any initial resistance in your corporation to new eLearning initiatives is to
focus on quick wins. This is a great way to demonstrate the value of a new eLearning initiative
and to develop a good working relationship with your eLearning vendor. Many companies try to
focus on the areas with the most complicated needs first. In my opinion this is a bad approach
that can only end in disaster. Remember keep your first project simple!

Start by focusing on areas where there is a need and where there are existing training materials
within your organization. It is a lot easier to create a customized interactive training course from
existing sources such as PowerPoint presentations developed by subject matter experts (SME's),
lessons learnt documents, case studies and standard operating procedures (SOP's) as opposed
to starting from scratch. It is amazing how much information you will find when you start looking
within your organization. Admittedly most of the materials that you will find are informational only
and would need to be structured and redeveloped into an interactive format that ensures
knowledge retention. Having said this it is much easier, less time consuming and resource
intensive to use existing information within your company rather than attempting to reinvent the
wheel. Remember focus on quick wins that will impart essential knowledge to a select group of
your final overall target audience and demonstrate the value of your endeavor.
eLearning is a valuable training tool as long as it is approached in a manner that keeps your
ultimate objectives, limitations, corporate political landscape and possibilities in mind. Like any
other tool the final result is dependent on the skill of the operator. eLearning can have extremely
positive results within your organization including saving you time and money paid for onsite
training often involving travel, increased productivity, self-paced learning and maximized ROI.
However, positive results require foresight and a good working relationship between the content
developer, customer project manager/owner and the project sponsor/champion. We would be
happy to assist you with any of the questions that you have. Even if you are only at the initial
needs assessment stage, we would be happy to discuss your eLearning development options
with you.

Quintus is the Director of Business Development for Cyber Media Creations. His Business Development duties and responsibilities include all sales, marketing and business development initiatives. In addtion, Quintus is responsible for project management of larger projects and as such his duties and responsibilities include customer needs assessment and overall project management throughout product lifecycle; storyboard and development mockup design; content development (audio and structuring; prototype feedback to developers; course and program testing and the development implementation of standard business documentation for all customer contracts/ agreements and project management documentation.

Quintus brings a unique global perspective to Cyber Media Creations' training approach.

Home: http://www.cybermediacreations.com

Company profile: [http://cybermediacreations.com/elearning/eLearning_company_profiles_CMC.pdf]

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Quintus_Joubert

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tacit Knowledge

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Tacit Knowledge
Tacit Knowledge and Internet
By John Savageau

Basic and Tacit Knowledge

There are many things we expect our young people to know, and be able to perform upon graduation from the basic education system. We expect them to read, do basic arithmetic, use our language, in addition to the long list of day-to-day tasks we consider routine. Much of the responsibility for building the tacit skills and knowledge to perform day-to-day tasks lies within our education system. You cannot order food at a restaurant without basic reading skills, nor can you pay the restaurant bill without a basis in arithmetic.

The question of how much young people need to know before they are unleashed on society and the workforce is an interesting debate. We need to know more - and different - things than we did 150 years ago. Advances in technology, and the global "village" have driven our generations to learn much more just to survive. 150 years ago the concept of using a microwave oven to warm up a pastry would have been incomprehensible. Today there are few people who could not operate a microwave oven. However you do not take microwave oven training in school - you simply learn how to use the oven, or absorb the task knowledge, such as reading the instruction manual,  needed to use the oven as a result of basic education received during the course of 12 or so years in primary schools.

A young person of 150 years ago was probably very adept at digging a well for fresh water, animal husbandry, and making fire (of course this is a simplification - the point is in tacit skills or knowledge). Young people today would have very poor skills in those tasks, however our generation has different requirements for knowledge and skills. It is a different age. The young people of 150 years ago had no reason to build skills for constructing cliff dwellings as their prior generations may have learned - again, we are in a different age.

Computers and the Internet

Now we rapidly enter a new era in the requirement for basic knowledge, and it is the result of a combination of an emerging global village, Internet, and Internet-enabled applications. The speed at which Internet-enabled applications have changed the way people view their place in the world is unprecedented. While we have had distributed networks since the 19060s, the current paradigm did not emerge until the mid-1990s.

In the past 10 years our perceptions of postal mail, telephone, entertainment, business, and commerce activities have been rewritten. The model continues to change by the day.

Tacit knowledge is that knowledge learned over extended periods of time, through frequent exposure and reinforcement, giving us a depth of knowledge or skills on a topic or concept that is natural, yet difficult to codify into an explicit list of knowledge or skills. Tacit skills and knowledge allow us to go beyond the simple rote learning of a topic or skill, allowing us to understand the theory or concepts behind the task. A person with strong tacit knowledge or skills is able to quickly identify and react to change, respond to emergencies, and use their knowledge to exploit new or emerging opportunities.

Our Students

In the Internet age we are not only competing within our local communities and markets, we are competing within a global economic community. Electronic commerce puts all inefficient business or activity at risk - regardless of the service or geographic location. As an example just look at the impact companies such as Amazon.Com and Travelocity have had on their industries - it is a new world that is very foreign to those of us from prior generations.

To have the knowledge and skills needed to not only compete, but to function in the Internet age, young people need a strong base of tacit knowledge in the concepts and use of computers, networks, Internet, and communications. After a young person enters the work force, requiring special training in basic office automation tools, networks, or Internet skills is simply not acceptable. In the Internet age our young people need these skills as tacit skills before they leave the basic education system - or they will represent a burden on our ability to compete as an economy and society.

Just as we expect our young people to know how to use a telephone or microwave oven without specific training, we also need to ensure the integration of the basic required tacit knowledge needed to function within the Internet age by the time a young person enters the work force. Internet-age skills must be an inherent, an integral part of the basic education curriculum.

If a student does not have the basic skills needed to submit a homework assignment as an email attachment, to do online research for a term paper, to collaborate with students in a distant location on a larger term project, to use basic communication utilities such as instant messaging and an Internet soft phone - then giving initial training to those young people when they enter the workforce will represent an unacceptable burden to the business community. Without those tacit skills as part of every worker's basic contribution to the workforce, we will simply not be able to compete in the global marketplace, and will be left behind in the global village.

Whether you agree with this editorial in whole or not, we can accept this is a reality. As citizens we have an obligation to both support integration of these skills into to core curriculum of our education system, as well as demand our academic leadership build this core skills training into the education system from the earliest possible age. Today we debate the requirement to have computers in schools - we must now debate how computers are an integral part of our life and society, and how we can best eliminate academic deficiencies that prevent our young people from graduating with the intellectual tools they need to contribute to, and be successful in, the global village and marketplace.

John Savageau is a managing director at CRG-West, responsible for managing operations and architecture for several of the largest telecommunications interconnect facilities in the US, including One Wilshire in Los Angeles.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=John_Savageau

Monday, April 19, 2010

Tacit Knowledge Management

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Tacit Knowledge Management
Tacit Knowledge and the Knowledge Management Systems
By Nouha Taifi

In today's economy, knowledge management especially Tacit Knowledge Management has moved from being one of the resources of competitive advantage to being the most important resource. All attention has been turned toward knowledge and methods to manage it. Nonaka (1991) states that knowledge and its strategic use is one sure source of sustained competitive advantage for organizations. Thus, the processes used to retain and transfer knowledge is becoming the main objective of organizations. For that, knowledge management systems are created based on organizational needs in order to efficiently create and share knowledge.

However, few knowledge management systems have been able to deal with the human capital. The reason for that is two-fold; there are various definitions of knowledge and so what constitutes exactly knowledge management. At this point, many knowledge management (KM) practitioners have stated the weak capacity of the knowledge management systems (KMSs) in managing tacit knowledge aka Tacit Knowledge Management. Yet, some made research trying to find solutions to the externalization of tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge refers to the knowledge that cannot be easily articulated and thus only exists in people's hands and minds. This was first mentioned by Polanyi (1966) who created this interest for tacit knowledge.

The introduction of information and communication technologies (ICTs) improved a bit the tacit knowledge management. Some KM practitioners stated the great contribution of ICTs-driven KMSs in externalizing tacit knowledge (Cohen and Bacdayan, 1994; Scott, 1998). Others concluded the useless function of these KMSs, even the negative effect of them on tacit knowledge management attempts (Blackler, 1995; Hansen et al., 1999). Those two opposite point of views concerning the effectiveness of the ICTs-driven KMSs in externalizing tacit knowledge urges the need to present the real role played by those KMSs in externalizing tacit knowledge.

Knowledge and its Management:

Most organizations are nowadays realizing that knowledge management (KM) is one of the key success factors in today's economy, and all are moving toward the knowledge-based economy. All the KM view practitioners are aware that their success depends on the way they use their knowledge in order to get competitive advantage and create new knowledge. Various organizations strive for continuous innovation and for that KM plays a key role in differentiating one organization from the other.

One of the most relevant discussions about knowledge management was made by Nonaka (1991) and Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) when they showed how the Japanese companies were and are still -after 10 years- able to develop fast and to innovate in the new product development. Their success was mainly the result of their capacities to transfer and share the tacit and explicit knowledge across their organizations. It is important to mention that one of the firsts to distinguish between tacit and explicit knowledge was Polanyi (1966) when saying that `We can know more than we can tell´.

Also, Davenport and Prusak (1998) defined KM as a process for the collection, distribution and efficient use of the knowledge resource. At that time, the slogan 'efficient use of knowledge' was already used showing the new emerging trend and interest for KM. In fact, even before that, Drucker (1993) stated that in order to meet market challenges, a company has to be prepared to create efficient means to manage its knowledge and create new one according to its performance needs.

Knowledge has been defined in a variety of ways depending on the context. An interesting definition by Beckman (1997) was that knowledge is reasoning about information to actively guide task execution, problem-solving and decision making in order to perform, learn and teach. Also, Wiig (1993) stated that knowledge consists of truths and beliefs, perspectives and concepts, judgments and expectations, methodologies and 'know-how'.

Tacit Knowledge:

Knowledge, this mixture of information, experience, skills and capacities is not only located in documents, journals or books, but above all in people's minds. It is important to understand that the primary sources of the tangible knowledge repositories are the human brains that are thinking and questioning. The human capital, as we call it, comprises the most important knowledge of all times which is the tacit knowledge. This knowledge is the know-how, and skills hidden in each individual- described as the knower. In order to manage the tacit knowledge, all interest is toward the knower- the individual carrying this knowledge. This focus has created a knower-centered (K-C) view for the KM experts.

The knower-centered approach considers the humans as the principle source of knowledge. The main issue concerning the K-C practitioners is to manage not only the explicit but also the tacit knowledge belonging to individuals. For that, recently, a new function has been created - the Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO), this person dealing with knowledge. Drucker (1993) first mentioned the knowledge worker or CKO-as named today. He defined this person as a knowledge executive who knows how to allocate knowledge to productive use, and also as a strategic person that any organization must raise in order to meet the competitive goals.

Also, Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) said that knowledge practitioners generate and accumulate both tacit and explicit knowledge. And that the quality of their knowledge accumulated depend mainly on the quality of their direct day-to-day business experiences. Again, according to Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995), the CKO groups that are more linked to tacit knowledge are the 'knowledge operators'; they accumulate and generate rich tacit knowledge in the form of experience-based embodied skills.

In fact, experience, as mentioned before, is one of the most relevant types of tacit knowledge. Experience is building personal skills and the best one able to deal with that is the knowledge worker. As Davenport and Prusak (1998) said, this person can then try to transfer as much knowledge as possible to someone through mentoring or apprenticeship, so that important tacit knowledge is not wholly concentrated in one person.

However, tacit knowledge was named so for specific reasons. We should keep in mind that tacit knowledge is this knowledge difficult to codify. Polanyi (1966) defines tacit knowledge as personal, context-specific and, not easily visible and expressible -nor easy to formalize and communicate to others. More recently, Grant (1996) explained that it is this tacitness precisely that makes tacit knowledge difficult to imitate or to import from one organization to another and therefore this makes it an important organizational resource for securing competitive advantage.

Besides, since an efficient tacit knowledge management provide an organization with a competitive advantage, it is important to give it the right definition. New KM approaches have appeared trying to deal with tacit knowledge. Hansen et al. (1999) distinguished between two different types of strategies depending on the tacit and explicit knowledge focus. Respectively, at the core of the codification strategy is the conversion of individual knowledge to organizational knowledge through the use of databases. And the personalization strategy instead stresses the tacit and contextual aspects of knowledge and experience, relying on the transfer of individuals between different teams. Then, the KM approach accordingly, related to tacit knowledge, calls for the creation of groups or networks that will share knowledge.

Wenger (1998) defines those formed groups of workers as the communities of practice. He studied how the know-how was shared among workers in large organizations showing that mostly information was exchanged in informal meetings. A community of practice is different from a team; it is defined by knowledge rather than by task. More recently, many examples of communities of practice have been created in organizations, but have different names. Gongla and Rizzuto (2001) mentioned some of them such as 'learning communities' at Hewlett-Packard Company, 'thematic groups' at the World Bank, 'peer groups' at British Petroleum, and 'knowledge networks' at IBM Global Services.

Information Communication Technologies and Knowledge Management Systems:

Knowledge sharing and creation- the aim of all communities of practice, has been recently boosted by the introduction of the information and communication technologies (ICTs) in order to allow more information handling. It has established itself as an important tool for communication and information exchange between people. Some authors even seem to equate knowledge management with the introduction of specific ICTs applications like intranets, and groupware. The role of ICTs in knowledge management is once again to extract, and codify knowledge, whether it is explicit or implicit knowledge. As Malhotra (2000) said, knowledge management embodies organizational processes that seek synergistic combination of data and information-processing, capacity information technologies, and the creative and innovative capacity of human beings.
The supportive role of ICTs for tacit knowledge management has been discussed by many KM practitioners. Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) described two modes of organizational knowledge creation related to the transfer and sharing of tacit knowledge; socialization referring to the transfer of individual tacit knowledge to organizational tacit knowledge, and externalization which is converting tacit knowledge based on experience to objective explicit knowledge. In fact, those two modes of dealing with tacit knowledge are supported by ICTs; Scott (1998) stated that to facilitate socialization, virtual teams use visual cues (signals) from observation and rich media such as animation, graphics, audio, video-conferencing, the chat feature of the internet, and virtual reality. Before that, Cohen and Bacdayan (1994) mentioned that the multimedia capabilities of the intranet, such as video clips, demonstrate organizational procedures that cannot be easily communicated or when language barriers exist. Concerning the mode of externalization, the transfer difficulty of 'sticky' tacit knowledge- as named by Von Hippel (1994) is mainly due to the unknown rules of expertise, which means that there are no specific methods to externalize tacit knowledge. This author also stated that iterative prototyping has been used successfully to externalize 'sticky' user requirements, since as mentioned more recently by Ba et al. (1997), animation, video clips, virtual reality and other technologies enhance presentation of prototypes on the intranet. Also, Scott (1998) identified the hyperlinking capability as a mean of reducing cognitive overload and capturing tacit knowledge. Hyperlinking encourages context sharing which enables tacit knowledge dimension to be communicated via the emergence of explicit relationships, according to Gundry and Metes (1996).

Whereas Davenport and Prusak (1998) stated that the technology cannot make organizations more 'knowledgeable'. In the sense that, the ICTs-driven KM approaches stress only the codifiable, explicit aspects of knowledge while ignoring the tacit aspects (Blackler, 1995). In fact, Hansen et al. (1999) mentioned that if an organization KM strategy is aimed at personalization- bringing people together for the purpose of exchanging tacit knowledge, investing in ICTs would not be advantageous. Thus, the importance of tacit knowledge for knowledge creation is determining the value and limitations of the ICTs since its basic goal is supposed to be the articulation of knowledge.

The other issue concerning the emergence of ICTs-driven KM approaches is that the focus on explicit knowledge management could leave no place for the tacit knowledge to be produced. This is a very recent concept mentioned by Clergeau (2005) while she focused her study on the role of ICTs in information exchange at three call centers. In fact, the ICTs-based Taylorim- as she named it- codifies intensively knowledge leaving no space for individuals, inside an organization, to create and share their tacit knowledge. As the journalist Sydney J. Harris said: 'real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers'. At that level, the knowledge and individual experience of workers are no more considered as unique and the organization does not promote learning. This issue is also due to the non-awareness of the top and middle class organization management of the importance of the tacit knowledge. In fact, KMSs are manipulated by people and some practitioners do not attach the right value to tacit knowledge. Some even think that it is not necessary to externalize knowledge, though, to share it with others. Thus, some think that it would be better to look for complementarities rather than sharing their own knowledge.

To conclude, all those factors demonstrate the importance of an adequate atmosphere for the act of knowledge sharing. Davenport and Prusak (1997) stated that the creation and testing of knowledge is a social activity and, as such, requires environments that provide extensive opportunities for communication and experimentation. So, since the social activity- tacit knowledge - requires an adequate environment in order to be efficiently created and shared, it is interesting to see if knowledge management systems (KMS) based on ICTs are the right environment for such knowledge management. Clearly, this urges the need for discovering the adequate KMSs for tacit knowledge management.

Copyright (c) 2006 Nouha TAIFI

Nouha TAIFI is a Ph.D student in the e-Business Management Section/ISUFI, Lecce university. Her main interest is toward knowledge and its management using information systems for the purpose of innovation and new product development. She has a Master of Science in Business and Economics from the International University of Dalarna, Sweden, and a Bachelor in Business Administration from the university of AlAkhawayn, Ifrane.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Nouha_Taifi

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Knowledge Manager

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What Should Knowledge Manager Know: Tacit Knowledge and the Knowledge Management Systems
By Nouha Taifi

In today's economy, knowledge management has moved from being one of the resources of competitive advantage to being the most important resource. All attention has been turned toward knowledge and methods to manage it. Nonaka (1991) states that knowledge and its strategic use is one sure source of sustained competitive advantage for organizations. Thus, the processes used to retain and transfer knowledge is becoming the main objective of organizations. For that, knowledge management systems are created based on organizational needs in order to efficiently create and share knowledge.

However, few knowledge management systems have been able to deal with the human capital. The reason for that is two-fold; there are various definitions of knowledge and so what constitutes exactly knowledge management. At this point, many knowledge management (KM) practitioners have stated the weak capacity of the knowledge management systems (KMSs) in managing tacit knowledge. Yet, some made research trying to find solutions to the externalization of tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge refers to the knowledge that cannot be easily articulated and thus only exists in people's hands and minds. This was first mentioned by Polanyi (1966) who created this interest for tacit knowledge.

The introduction of information and communication technologies (ICTs) improved a bit the tacit knowledge management. Some KM practitioners stated the great contribution of ICTs-driven KMSs in externalizing tacit knowledge (Cohen and Bacdayan, 1994; Scott, 1998). Others concluded the useless function of these KMSs, even the negative effect of them on tacit knowledge management attempts (Blackler, 1995; Hansen et al., 1999). Those two opposite point of views concerning the effectiveness of the ICTs-driven KMSs in externalizing tacit knowledge urges the need to present the real role played by those KMSs in externalizing tacit knowledge.
Knowledge and its Management:

Most organizations are nowadays realizing that knowledge management (KM) is one of the key success factors in today's economy, and all are moving toward the knowledge-based economy. All the KM view practitioners are aware that their success depends on the way they use their knowledge in order to get competitive advantage and create new knowledge. Various organizations strive for continuous innovation and for that KM plays a key role in differentiating one organization from the other.

One of the most relevant discussions about knowledge management was made by Nonaka (1991) and Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) when they showed how the Japanese companies were and are still -after 10 years- able to develop fast and to innovate in the new product development. Their success was mainly the result of their capacities to transfer and share the tacit and explicit knowledge across their organizations. It is important to mention that one of the firsts to distinguish between tacit and explicit knowledge was Polanyi (1966) when saying that `We can know more than we can tell´.

Also, Davenport and Prusak (1998) defined KM as a process for the collection, distribution and efficient use of the knowledge resource. At that time, the slogan 'efficient use of knowledge' was already used showing the new emerging trend and interest for KM. In fact, even before that, Drucker (1993) stated that in order to meet market challenges, a company has to be prepared to create efficient means to manage its knowledge and create new one according to its performance needs.

Knowledge has been defined in a variety of ways depending on the context. An interesting definition by Beckman (1997) was that knowledge is reasoning about information to actively guide task execution, problem-solving and decision making in order to perform, learn and teach. Also, Wiig (1993) stated that knowledge consists of truths and beliefs, perspectives and concepts, judgments and expectations, methodologies and 'know-how'.

Tacit Knowledge:

Knowledge, this mixture of information, experience, skills and capacities is not only located in documents, journals or books, but above all in people's minds. It is important to understand that the primary sources of the tangible knowledge repositories are the human brains that are thinking and questioning. The human capital, as we call it, comprises the most important knowledge of all times which is the tacit knowledge. This knowledge is the know-how, and skills hidden in each individual- described as the knower. In order to manage the tacit knowledge, all interest is toward the knower- the individual carrying this knowledge. This focus has created a knower-centered (K-C) view for the KM experts.

The knower-centered approach considers the humans as the principle source of knowledge. The main issue concerning the K-C practitioners is to manage not only the explicit but also the tacit knowledge belonging to individuals. For that, recently, a new function has been created - the Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO), this person dealing with knowledge. Drucker (1993) first mentioned the knowledge worker or CKO-as named today. He defined this person as a knowledge executive who knows how to allocate knowledge to productive use, and also as a strategic person that any organization must raise in order to meet the competitive goals.

Also, Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) said that knowledge practitioners generate and accumulate both tacit and explicit knowledge. And that the quality of their knowledge accumulated depend mainly on the quality of their direct day-to-day business experiences. Again, according to Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995), the CKO groups that are more linked to tacit knowledge are the 'knowledge operators'; they accumulate and generate rich tacit knowledge in the form of experience-based embodied skills.

In fact, experience, as mentioned before, is one of the most relevant types of tacit knowledge. Experience is building personal skills and the best one able to deal with that is the knowledge worker. As Davenport and Prusak (1998) said, this person can then try to transfer as much knowledge as possible to someone through mentoring or apprenticeship, so that important tacit knowledge is not wholly concentrated in one person.

However, tacit knowledge was named so for specific reasons. We should keep in mind that tacit knowledge is this knowledge difficult to codify. Polanyi (1966) defines tacit knowledge as personal, context-specific and, not easily visible and expressible -nor easy to formalize and communicate to others. More recently, Grant (1996) explained that it is this tacitness precisely that makes tacit knowledge difficult to imitate or to import from one organization to another and therefore this makes it an important organizational resource for securing competitive advantage.

Besides, since an efficient tacit knowledge management provide an organization with a competitive advantage, it is important to give it the right definition. New KM approaches have appeared trying to deal with tacit knowledge. Hansen et al. (1999) distinguished between two different types of strategies depending on the tacit and explicit knowledge focus. Respectively, at the core of the codification strategy is the conversion of individual knowledge to organizational knowledge through the use of databases. And the personalization strategy instead stresses the tacit and contextual aspects of knowledge and experience, relying on the transfer of individuals between different teams. Then, the KM approach accordingly, related to tacit knowledge, calls for the creation of groups or networks that will share knowledge.

Wenger (1998) defines those formed groups of workers as the communities of practice. He studied how the know-how was shared among workers in large organizations showing that mostly information was exchanged in informal meetings. A community of practice is different from a team; it is defined by knowledge rather than by task. More recently, many examples of communities of practice have been created in organizations, but have different names. Gongla and Rizzuto (2001) mentioned some of them such as 'learning communities' at Hewlett-Packard Company, 'thematic groups' at the World Bank, 'peer groups' at British Petroleum, and 'knowledge networks' at IBM Global Services.

Information Communication Technologies and Knowledge Management Systems:

Knowledge sharing and creation- the aim of all communities of practice, has been recently boosted by the introduction of the information and communication technologies (ICTs) in order to allow more information handling. It has established itself as an important tool for communication and information exchange between people. Some authors even seem to equate knowledge management with the introduction of specific ICTs applications like intranets, and groupware. The role of ICTs in knowledge management is once again to extract, and codify knowledge, whether it is explicit or implicit knowledge. As Malhotra (2000) said, knowledge management embodies organizational processes that seek synergistic combination of data and information-processing, capacity information technologies, and the creative and innovative capacity of human beings.
The supportive role of ICTs for tacit knowledge management has been discussed by many KM practitioners. Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) described two modes of organizational knowledge creation related to the transfer and sharing of tacit knowledge; socialization referring to the transfer of individual tacit knowledge to organizational tacit knowledge, and externalization which is converting tacit knowledge based on experience to objective explicit knowledge. In fact, those two modes of dealing with tacit knowledge are supported by ICTs; Scott (1998) stated that to facilitate socialization, virtual teams use visual cues (signals) from observation and rich media such as animation, graphics, audio, video-conferencing, the chat feature of the internet, and virtual reality. Before that, Cohen and Bacdayan (1994) mentioned that the multimedia capabilities of the intranet, such as video clips, demonstrate organizational procedures that cannot be easily communicated or when language barriers exist. Concerning the mode of externalization, the transfer difficulty of 'sticky' tacit knowledge- as named by Von Hippel (1994) is mainly due to the unknown rules of expertise, which means that there are no specific methods to externalize tacit knowledge. This author also stated that iterative prototyping has been used successfully to externalize 'sticky' user requirements, since as mentioned more recently by Ba et al. (1997), animation, video clips, virtual reality and other technologies enhance presentation of prototypes on the intranet. Also, Scott (1998) identified the hyperlinking capability as a mean of reducing cognitive overload and capturing tacit knowledge. Hyperlinking encourages context sharing which enables tacit knowledge dimension to be communicated via the emergence of explicit relationships, according to Gundry and Metes (1996).

Whereas Davenport and Prusak (1998) stated that the technology cannot make organizations more 'knowledgeable'. In the sense that, the ICTs-driven KM approaches stress only the codifiable, explicit aspects of knowledge while ignoring the tacit aspects (Blackler, 1995). In fact, Hansen et al. (1999) mentioned that if an organization KM strategy is aimed at personalization- bringing people together for the purpose of exchanging tacit knowledge, investing in ICTs would not be advantageous. Thus, the importance of tacit knowledge for knowledge creation is determining the value and limitations of the ICTs since its basic goal is supposed to be the articulation of knowledge.

The other issue concerning the emergence of ICTs-driven KM approaches is that the focus on explicit knowledge management could leave no place for the tacit knowledge to be produced. This is a very recent concept mentioned by Clergeau (2005) while she focused her study on the role of ICTs in information exchange at three call centers. In fact, the ICTs-based Taylorim- as she named it- codifies intensively knowledge leaving no space for individuals, inside an organization, to create and share their tacit knowledge. As the journalist Sydney J. Harris said: 'real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers'. At that level, the knowledge and individual experience of workers are no more considered as unique and the organization does not promote learning. This issue is also due to the non-awareness of the top and middle class organization management of the importance of the tacit knowledge. In fact, KMSs are manipulated by people and some practitioners do not attach the right value to tacit knowledge. Some even think that it is not necessary to externalize knowledge, though, to share it with others. Thus, some think that it would be better to look for complementarities rather than sharing their own knowledge.

To conclude, all those factors demonstrate the importance of an adequate atmosphere for the act of knowledge sharing. Davenport and Prusak (1997) stated that the creation and testing of knowledge is a social activity and, as such, requires environments that provide extensive opportunities for communication and experimentation. So, since the social activity- tacit knowledge - requires an adequate environment in order to be efficiently created and shared, it is interesting to see if knowledge management systems (KMS) based on ICTs are the right environment for such knowledge management. Clearly, this urges the need for discovering the adequate KMSs for tacit knowledge management.

Copyright (c) 2006 Nouha TAIFI

Nouha TAIFI is a Ph.D student in the e-Business Management Section/ISUFI, Lecce university. Her main interest is toward knowledge and its management using information systems for the purpose of innovation and new product development. She has a Master of Science in Business and Economics from the International University of Dalarna, Sweden, and a Bachelor in Business Administration from the university of AlAkhawayn, Ifrane.


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Nouha_Taifi

Friday, April 16, 2010

Content Management System

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Content Management System
Deciding On The Right Content Management System
By Kevin Sinclair Platinum Quality Author

When an individual owns and operates a number of websites, the work can prove to be quite challenging. This is due to the fact that many changes must occur in the website on a consistent basis in order to ensure that the content is fresh. If a website fails to receive continuous updates, then it will quickly lose rankings in the search engines. Many tools and resources have been created in order to ensure that a webmaster's job is made easy. One of the best solutions on the market today is the content management system, or CMS.

A content management system is a creative solution that helps website owners easily create and appropriately manage the websites that they own and operate. Without a CMS, website owners must perform a number of technical procedures in order to update the information and content on their website. This includes updating the HTML that is part of that website. This can prove to be quite a tedious and over burdening task for many people. It is also relatively time consuming. However, a content management system can help to make this much easier.

When a website owner wants to update the content on their website, they must simply open up the CMS software, enter the appropriate information within the form, and then the content management system will automatically create a new webpage. This particular type of software can save a website owner hundreds of dollars and many hours of time. It works by simply allowing the individual to setup their website on a number of templates. Once a content update is required, the individual simply logs in to the appropriate template, makes the change, and clicks a button!

Most content management systems come with a large assortment of predesigned templates that a website owner can select from. However, in the rare case that the individual does not prefer these templates, they can easily transport templates from other programs. This includes those from programs such as Dreamweaver, and even Microsoft. The CMS software will still function in the same capacity, whether the template is from the actual content management system database, or loaded from another destination.

There are many individuals who are not familiar with the programming language of HTML. One of the most common concerns when it comes to content management systems is whether or not knowledge of HTML is important. The answer is "no". A content management system has a very friendly user interface so that HTML knowledge is not a prerequisite to operate the program. Many individuals who have a lack of knowledge in HTML may even elect to hire a professional to assist them with this.

Choosing a content management system that is right for you may prove to be a challenging task. There are many excellent products out there when it comes to selecting a CMS solution. The first thing that you should do when it comes to selecting a content management system that is right for you is to determine how much you can afford for the expense. Some content management solutions are as high as a few thousand dollars. However, there are some free CMS programs available as well. However, the features of these will be extremely limited. These are generally referred to as "open source". This means that you can use the software for free, but many individuals prefer to not share their license with other users - especially when sensitive website information is at stake.

The next thing that you should consider when looking to purchase a content management system that is right for you is your level of expertise. There are some CMS solutions for individuals with very little experience in HTML and website development. There are also many other types of CMS solutions that are designed for the more advanced users. You must gauge your level of expertise and make a determination based on this information.

When determining what type of content management system is right for you, it is important to understand that some of these solutions come with extra features that may benefit your website. These features include the ability to adjust blogs, graphics, and other areas of your website. Once again, there are different levels of these solutions that are available. This includes packages that are for users who are advanced and those that are beginners.

There are some excellent additional features when it comes to content management systems; this includes the ability to create forums on your website, polls, games, and more. Many website owners greatly benefit from these types of activities because it keeps users on the website longer. These types of activities can help drive and increase traffic to your website. In turn, you can achieve more sales and increase your customer database.

When selecting a content management solution that is right for you, there are many different things to be considered. You should base your purchase on your level of expertise, the amount that you can budget for the task, the features that the software comes with, and the additional features that can prove to be very beneficial to your website. You should also ensure that you carefully consider the advantages of saving time and money with the content management system.

Kevin Sinclair is the publisher and editor of Be Successful News, a site that provides information and articles on how to succeed in your own home or small business.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Kevin_Sinclair

what is knowledge management system

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what is knowledge management system
Tacit Knowledge and  What Knowledge Management System
By Nouha Taifi

In today's economy, knowledge management has moved from being one of the resources of competitive advantage to being the most important resource. All attention has been turned toward knowledge and methods to manage it. Nonaka (1991) states that knowledge and its strategic use is one sure source of sustained competitive advantage for organizations. Thus, the processes used to retain and transfer knowledge is becoming the main objective of organizations. For that, knowledge management systems are created based on organizational needs in order to efficiently create and share knowledge.

However, few knowledge management systems have been able to deal with the human capital. The reason for that is two-fold; there are various definitions of knowledge and so what constitutes exactly knowledge management. At this point, many knowledge management (KM) practitioners have stated the weak capacity of the knowledge management systems (KMSs) in managing tacit knowledge. Yet, some made research trying to find solutions to the externalization of tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge refers to the knowledge that cannot be easily articulated and thus only exists in people's hands and minds. This was first mentioned by Polanyi (1966) who created this interest for tacit knowledge.

The introduction of information and communication technologies (ICTs) improved a bit the tacit knowledge management. Some KM practitioners stated the great contribution of ICTs-driven KMSs in externalizing tacit knowledge (Cohen and Bacdayan, 1994; Scott, 1998). Others concluded the useless function of these KMSs, even the negative effect of them on tacit knowledge management attempts (Blackler, 1995; Hansen et al., 1999). Those two opposite point of views concerning the effectiveness of the ICTs-driven KMSs in externalizing tacit knowledge urges the need to present the real role played by those KMSs in externalizing tacit knowledge.
Knowledge and its Management:

Most organizations are nowadays realizing that knowledge management (KM) is one of the key success factors in today's economy, and all are moving toward the knowledge-based economy. All the KM view practitioners are aware that their success depends on the way they use their knowledge in order to get competitive advantage and create new knowledge. Various organizations strive for continuous innovation and for that KM plays a key role in differentiating one organization from the other.

One of the most relevant discussions about knowledge management was made by Nonaka (1991) and Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) when they showed how the Japanese companies were and are still -after 10 years- able to develop fast and to innovate in the new product development. Their success was mainly the result of their capacities to transfer and share the tacit and explicit knowledge across their organizations. It is important to mention that one of the firsts to distinguish between tacit and explicit knowledge was Polanyi (1966) when saying that `We can know more than we can tell´.

Also, Davenport and Prusak (1998) defined KM as a process for the collection, distribution and efficient use of the knowledge resource. At that time, the slogan 'efficient use of knowledge' was already used showing the new emerging trend and interest for KM. In fact, even before that, Drucker (1993) stated that in order to meet market challenges, a company has to be prepared to create efficient means to manage its knowledge and create new one according to its performance needs.

Knowledge has been defined in a variety of ways depending on the context. An interesting definition by Beckman (1997) was that knowledge is reasoning about information to actively guide task execution, problem-solving and decision making in order to perform, learn and teach. Also, Wiig (1993) stated that knowledge consists of truths and beliefs, perspectives and concepts, judgments and expectations, methodologies and 'know-how'.

Tacit Knowledge:

Knowledge, this mixture of information, experience, skills and capacities is not only located in documents, journals or books, but above all in people's minds. It is important to understand that the primary sources of the tangible knowledge repositories are the human brains that are thinking and questioning. The human capital, as we call it, comprises the most important knowledge of all times which is the tacit knowledge. This knowledge is the know-how, and skills hidden in each individual- described as the knower. In order to manage the tacit knowledge, all interest is toward the knower- the individual carrying this knowledge. This focus has created a knower-centered (K-C) view for the KM experts.

The knower-centered approach considers the humans as the principle source of knowledge. The main issue concerning the K-C practitioners is to manage not only the explicit but also the tacit knowledge belonging to individuals. For that, recently, a new function has been created - the Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO), this person dealing with knowledge. Drucker (1993) first mentioned the knowledge worker or CKO-as named today. He defined this person as a knowledge executive who knows how to allocate knowledge to productive use, and also as a strategic person that any organization must raise in order to meet the competitive goals.

Also, Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) said that knowledge practitioners generate and accumulate both tacit and explicit knowledge. And that the quality of their knowledge accumulated depend mainly on the quality of their direct day-to-day business experiences. Again, according to Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995), the CKO groups that are more linked to tacit knowledge are the 'knowledge operators'; they accumulate and generate rich tacit knowledge in the form of experience-based embodied skills.

In fact, experience, as mentioned before, is one of the most relevant types of tacit knowledge. Experience is building personal skills and the best one able to deal with that is the knowledge worker. As Davenport and Prusak (1998) said, this person can then try to transfer as much knowledge as possible to someone through mentoring or apprenticeship, so that important tacit knowledge is not wholly concentrated in one person.

However, tacit knowledge was named so for specific reasons. We should keep in mind that tacit knowledge is this knowledge difficult to codify. Polanyi (1966) defines tacit knowledge as personal, context-specific and, not easily visible and expressible -nor easy to formalize and communicate to others. More recently, Grant (1996) explained that it is this tacitness precisely that makes tacit knowledge difficult to imitate or to import from one organization to another and therefore this makes it an important organizational resource for securing competitive advantage.

Besides, since an efficient tacit knowledge management provide an organization with a competitive advantage, it is important to give it the right definition. New KM approaches have appeared trying to deal with tacit knowledge. Hansen et al. (1999) distinguished between two different types of strategies depending on the tacit and explicit knowledge focus. Respectively, at the core of the codification strategy is the conversion of individual knowledge to organizational knowledge through the use of databases. And the personalization strategy instead stresses the tacit and contextual aspects of knowledge and experience, relying on the transfer of individuals between different teams. Then, the KM approach accordingly, related to tacit knowledge, calls for the creation of groups or networks that will share knowledge.

Wenger (1998) defines those formed groups of workers as the communities of practice. He studied how the know-how was shared among workers in large organizations showing that mostly information was exchanged in informal meetings. A community of practice is different from a team; it is defined by knowledge rather than by task. More recently, many examples of communities of practice have been created in organizations, but have different names. Gongla and Rizzuto (2001) mentioned some of them such as 'learning communities' at Hewlett-Packard Company, 'thematic groups' at the World Bank, 'peer groups' at British Petroleum, and 'knowledge networks' at IBM Global Services.

Information Communication Technologies and Knowledge Management Systems:

Knowledge sharing and creation- the aim of all communities of practice, has been recently boosted by the introduction of the information and communication technologies (ICTs) in order to allow more information handling. It has established itself as an important tool for communication and information exchange between people. Some authors even seem to equate knowledge management with the introduction of specific ICTs applications like intranets, and groupware. The role of ICTs in knowledge management is once again to extract, and codify knowledge, whether it is explicit or implicit knowledge. As Malhotra (2000) said, knowledge management embodies organizational processes that seek synergistic combination of data and information-processing, capacity information technologies, and the creative and innovative capacity of human beings.
The supportive role of ICTs for tacit knowledge management has been discussed by many KM practitioners. Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) described two modes of organizational knowledge creation related to the transfer and sharing of tacit knowledge; socialization referring to the transfer of individual tacit knowledge to organizational tacit knowledge, and externalization which is converting tacit knowledge based on experience to objective explicit knowledge. In fact, those two modes of dealing with tacit knowledge are supported by ICTs; Scott (1998) stated that to facilitate socialization, virtual teams use visual cues (signals) from observation and rich media such as animation, graphics, audio, video-conferencing, the chat feature of the internet, and virtual reality. Before that, Cohen and Bacdayan (1994) mentioned that the multimedia capabilities of the intranet, such as video clips, demonstrate organizational procedures that cannot be easily communicated or when language barriers exist. Concerning the mode of externalization, the transfer difficulty of 'sticky' tacit knowledge- as named by Von Hippel (1994) is mainly due to the unknown rules of expertise, which means that there are no specific methods to externalize tacit knowledge. This author also stated that iterative prototyping has been used successfully to externalize 'sticky' user requirements, since as mentioned more recently by Ba et al. (1997), animation, video clips, virtual reality and other technologies enhance presentation of prototypes on the intranet. Also, Scott (1998) identified the hyperlinking capability as a mean of reducing cognitive overload and capturing tacit knowledge. Hyperlinking encourages context sharing which enables tacit knowledge dimension to be communicated via the emergence of explicit relationships, according to Gundry and Metes (1996).

Whereas Davenport and Prusak (1998) stated that the technology cannot make organizations more 'knowledgeable'. In the sense that, the ICTs-driven KM approaches stress only the codifiable, explicit aspects of knowledge while ignoring the tacit aspects (Blackler, 1995). In fact, Hansen et al. (1999) mentioned that if an organization KM strategy is aimed at personalization- bringing people together for the purpose of exchanging tacit knowledge, investing in ICTs would not be advantageous. Thus, the importance of tacit knowledge for knowledge creation is determining the value and limitations of the ICTs since its basic goal is supposed to be the articulation of knowledge.

The other issue concerning the emergence of ICTs-driven KM approaches is that the focus on explicit knowledge management could leave no place for the tacit knowledge to be produced. This is a very recent concept mentioned by Clergeau (2005) while she focused her study on the role of ICTs in information exchange at three call centers. In fact, the ICTs-based Taylorim- as she named it- codifies intensively knowledge leaving no space for individuals, inside an organization, to create and share their tacit knowledge. As the journalist Sydney J. Harris said: 'real danger is not that computers will begin to think like men, but that men will begin to think like computers'. At that level, the knowledge and individual experience of workers are no more considered as unique and the organization does not promote learning. This issue is also due to the non-awareness of the top and middle class organization management of the importance of the tacit knowledge. In fact, KMSs are manipulated by people and some practitioners do not attach the right value to tacit knowledge. Some even think that it is not necessary to externalize knowledge, though, to share it with others. Thus, some think that it would be better to look for complementarities rather than sharing their own knowledge.

To conclude, all those factors demonstrate the importance of an adequate atmosphere for the act of knowledge sharing. Davenport and Prusak (1997) stated that the creation and testing of knowledge is a social activity and, as such, requires environments that provide extensive opportunities for communication and experimentation. So, since the social activity- tacit knowledge - requires an adequate environment in order to be efficiently created and shared, it is interesting to see if knowledge management systems (KMS) based on ICTs are the right environment for such knowledge management. Clearly, this urges the need for discovering the adequate KMSs for tacit knowledge management.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

IT Service Management

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IT Service Management
ITIL - Understanding and Using IT Service Management
By Alan Calder


'ITIL' is a term that is fast gaining currency around the IT world. It is often wrongly described as 'IT governance' - in fact, on its own, it certainly isn't this. ITIL is a collection of best practices that helps companies implement an IT Service Management culture. However, its growing popularity reflects the substantial impact it can make on a company's IT and business performance and the fact that, in combination with other frameworks, it is a vital ingredient in creating true IT governance.

What is IT Service Management?

Today's businesses are increasingly delivered or enabled using information technology. Business and IT management need guidance and support on how to manage the IT infrastructure in order to cost-effectively improve functionality and quality. IT Service Management is a concept that deals with how to define and deliver that guidance and support. In common with other modern management practice, it views things from the customer's perspective, i.e. IT is a service that the customer or consumer receives. It can be made up of hardware, software and communications facilities, but the customer perceives it as a self-contained, coherent entity.

So what is ITIL?

Standing for 'IT Infrastructure Library', ITIL is a set of best practices that are at the heart of the IT Service Management approach. It provides guidance on how to manage IT infrastructure so as to streamline IT services in line with business expectations. ITIL is a best practice framework, presenting the consolidated experience of organisations worldwide on how best to manage IT services to meet business expectations.

ITIL was originally developed during the 1980s by the UK's Central Computer and Technology Agency (CCTA), a government body, which created ITIL version 1 as an approach to incorporating various vendor technologies and serving organisations with differing technical and business needs. CCTA has now become part of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC), which, as official publisher of the ITIL library, updated it, published version 2 and continues to develop and support it.

ITIL has since become widely adopted across the world in both public and private sectors and is recognised as best practice, being deployed in organisations of all shapes and sizes.

What makes up the ITIL Library?

ITIL documentation consists of seven 'sets' or 'volumes': Service Support, Service Delivery, ICT Infrastructure Management, Security Management, Planning to Implement Service Management, The Business Perspective and Applications Management.

Of these, Service Support, Service Delivery and Security Management are considered the central components of the ITIL framework, covering vital issues such as Incident Management, Configuration Management, Change Management, IT Service Continuity Management, Availability Management and IT Security Management.

Learning about ITIL

The seven ITIL volumes are published by The Stationery Office, the official publisher of the UK government. In addition, to gain an overview and a sense of how to navigate these, it is helpful to consult one of several recommended introductory texts. 'Foundations of IT Service Management Based on ITIL - An Introduction' is widely accepted as the best starting point and self-study guide. 'Implementing Service and Support Management Processes - A Practical Guide' is a thorough and comprehensive handbook on the subject, while the 'itSMF Pocket Guides' provide a good overview of each of the ITIL components.

Getting certified

Part of the reason for the recent growth in ITIL awareness is the publication in December 2005 of a new global standard to which businesses can become certified. ISO 20000 (or ISO/IEC 20000:2005, to give it its correct name) is closely based upon the pre-existing British standard BS15000 - in fact, it is virtually indistinguishable. The standard comprises two parts: ISO/IEC 20000-1 is the specification for IT Service Management against which an organisation's practices can be certified; ISO/IEC 20000-2 is the 'code of practice' that describes best practices and the requirements of Part 1.

BS15000 has become widely used around the world since it was published in 2003 and was adopted virtually unchanged as the national standard in Australia and South Africa. A number of companies across the USA, Europe and Asia have already become certified as BS 15000 compliant. We also recommend several excellent books that provide guidance on achieving BS15000/ISO 20000 compliance.

Upon the publication of ISO 20000, BS15000 was withdrawn and individual standards and certification bodies are drawing up their own formal transition programmes for conversion to the new standard. Companies already holding BS15000 should encounter no difficulty in converting their certification to the new standard, as this should be one of the considerations addressed by the individual certifying bodies.

Practitioners can also pursue a structured programme of ITIL examination and certification, comprising the ITIL Foundation Certificate, ITIL Practitioners Certificate and ITIL Managers Certificate. Examinations and certification in Europe are managed through two independent bodies: EXIN, the European Examination Institute for Information Science; and ISEB, the Information Systems Examination Board. Between them, these two organisations control the entire certification scheme. In the United States, HDI is a principal organiser of examination and certification, and it and similar organisations provide coverage elsewhere around the world. These organisations ensure that personal certification is fair, honest and independent of the organisations that provide the training, and accredit training suppliers to bring about a consistent quality of course delivery.

ITIL and IT Governance

When combined with certain other frameworks, ITIL makes a major contribution to the creation of effective IT governance. ITIL processes can be mapped to CobiT (Control Objectives for Information and Related Technology) processes, and the two frameworks complement each other nicely: if the CobiT control framework tells the organisation 'what' to do in the delivery and support areas, ITIL best practices help the organisation define 'how' to deliver these requirements. Similarly, ITIL works very effectively with ISO 17799, the international code of best practice for information security, providing guidance on how to manage the various processes that ISO 17799 prescribes.

By drawing upon these three complementary frameworks as appropriate to its needs, an organisation can establish an IT governance regime that delivers real and lasting competitive advantage to its business.

Alan Calder is CEO of IT Governance Limited, an authorised international distributor of ITIL books (published by TSO on behalf of the Office of Government Commerce) and of British and international standards published by BSI. The seven ITIL volumes are available at http://www.itgovernance.co.uk/catalog/23, while introductory books may be accessed at http://www.itgovernance.co.uk/catalog/7. All items may be purchased online for worldwide delivery. For more information visit http://www.itgovernance.co.uk/itil.aspx

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