The ever increasing globalization has emerged as a threat to organizations’ knowledge management. As a result, size, nature and scope of the organization are vital to the success of how it manages its knowledge. The floor space, client base served, net assets owned by the organization, sales volume and others, measures the size of the group. In the case of a primary school, it may refer to the assets the school owns, the number of pupils, teachers and the stakeholders involved. The number of participants comes out as relevant in terms of working output, as well as the structural properties. The organizations’ view is also critical to knowledge management.
Knowledge management can be stated simply as an act of getting the right information at the right time and in the right place. The same information should be directed to the right individual to make the process complete. According to Burton and Obel (2004), the scope of the organization on a description context is supposed to be multidimensional, with both human and structural components. It refers to how schools can network to acquire knowledge in a timely and effective manner. Kermally (2001) argues that organizations can identify knowledge management as a compelling plan that allows them to strive on the global market successfully. The objective of the following essay is to highlight knowledge acquisition, retention and sharing, strengths and weaknesses, as well as future strategic plans of my school.
Gamble and Blackwell (2001) define knowledge acquisition as information that the organization gets from the outside sources. The external sources of information come out as crucial; therefore, a holistic view should be taken in regard to value chains. The said external sources include competitors, external experts, partners, suppliers of teaching and learning materials, and customers who are the parents bringing their children to the school. Subsequently, an individual will clearly understand these external sources if they are discussed one after the other.
Gerbert et al (2002) divide customers as an external source of knowledge into three forms. Firstly, knowledge is the information that customers do access and as such permitting it to get contented with the knowledge requirements. This kind of information comes in the form of the product (the quality of education offered by the school), supplier or even the market. In the case of our school, it is possible for one to acquire such a kind of knowledge either within the school or from other sources found outside such as competing schools and parents, who are our customers (Zanjani, Rouzbehani, & Dabbagh, 2008).
Secondly, knowledge pertaining to our customers is another source of relevant information. This type of information allows our management team to understand better the customers who are our pupils and their parents. It helps us to identify their motivational factors and then ensure that they are addressed by the departments concerned in the most appropriate manner. Consequently, information may come out in the form of customers’ expectations, purchasing activities and requirements. Thus, we are ready to gain new knowledge through whatever means (Zanjani et al., 2008).
Additionally, as Zanjani et al (2008) explain, we treat any information coming from our students, parents and suppliers (clients) as crucial as it informs us how to deal with the products, markets, and even suppliers. Such a kind of knowledge always helps in improving the organizations’ services and products. Our organization has acknowledged the fact that it is required to manage customers’ knowledge (knowledge owned by parents and students) in a manner that is profitable to the customer, on the one hand, and to the organization, on the other hand. For instance, our management team makes use of the information about the retention rate of students, analyze it, and then make an improvement on the marketing decisions.
The management of customer relationship in an organization significantly determines the effectiveness of knowledge acquisition. Gerbert et al (2002) argue that any organization, whether small or large, should put forward initiatives for knowledge management, such as feedback collection, design involvement, and suggestions collection. As to this, our local school has embraced information technology as the best alternative in enhancing and collecting such a kind of information. The data pertaining feedback and trends are considered very crucial in developing knowledge in our school.
As Allan (2010) puts it, much is borrowed from Gerbert et al (2002) in regard to the concepts of supplier knowledge. Chan (2009) divides them into three categories, namely, knowledge for supplies. As providers, we need this information, which includes inventory, markets, customers, forecasts and production needs.
The second one is knowledge for suppliers of learning materials and other things useful in facilitating the learning process. This form of information offers the supplier insights basing on the financial risks, quality, defects and even delivery of the products. According to Allan (2010), this is the information that vendors gather from the activities within the business. Here, our school, as the organization, is viewed as a customer; thus, it considers things from the customers’ perspective. The management takes advantage of these factors so as to foster good relationship with suppliers and all the stakeholders involved in the running and operation of the school. As Gamble and Blackwell (2001) argue, the management takes into account cultural alignments, leadership commitment and compatible goals in a bid to consistently acquire knowledge. In this way, the school is able to achieve long-term, productive, as well as sustained contact.
Thirdly, our school has identified our competitors as another source for information and therefore knowledge. In this perspective, our school is supposed to collect, organize and then present the acquired knowledge. This process occurs in a manner where one is permitted to retrieve, search and even analyze the said data regarding competitors. Such components come out as crucial in making better decisions, as well as managing new information. For us organization to make it in such a scenario, we have had to adapt and make use of the IT systems. Our school has found and applied such systems as document management, data mining and analysis that have been performing the search functions very quickly and accordingly .
Fourthly, another source of knowledge for our school is the information obtained from forming the alliances or becoming partners with other interested parties. However, we have had to be cautious when it comes to management. Our school aims at fostering trust among individuals, managing knowledge creation among the involved parties, as well as learning from other parties. Gamble and Blackwell (2001) state that an organization can make use of typical projects, personal exchanges, technology sharing and other forms of interaction. This is what has helped facilitate the transfer of knowledge from one party to the other in our school. We have known that for an organization to be in a position to acquire valuable and paramount knowledge, our management is required to focus on socialization, collaboration and informal communication.
Chan (2009) divides this source into three parts. The first part includes education for partners. Educating our partners helps ensure that our students and other stakeholders’ needs of are identified and satisfied. In this perspective, organizations need to have adequate knowledge about partners. Any alliance that the organization forms should be focused on the partners’ ability to carry out roles. Examples can include how their services, strategies to reach out to more pupils and those aimed towards improving their performances. Finally, apart from information technology that is imperative in this source, our organization has also regarded a merger and acquisition as other sources of acquiring knowledge; though, the scope is limited.
According to Allan (2010), knowledge retention is a situation where the firm captures information with the aim of using it in the future. On the other hand, Kirsch (2008) states that knowledge retention places its focus mainly on the critical knowledge that appears to be at risk of loss. It bases on the potential gaps together with an impact on the total performance of an organization to prioritize what seems to be at risk. In our school, the actionable plans are developed to help the school retain the said knowledge. Walsh and Ungson (1991) explain five repositories of knowledge: transformations, individuals, structures, external activities, and culture. Since knowledge management happens to be the basis of the essay, the manner in which the organizations’ management promotes knowledge retention comes out as crucial.
In the context of our school, we understand knowledge retention in different ways. First, is in terms of loosing crucial employees that prompt using various techniques like exit interviews so as to capture the said knowledge. For our management to be able to avoid this from happening, it has developed an integration system of knowledge retention, before even a vital employee departs the school. As Liebowitz (2011) notes, few firms have got developed strategies in regard to knowledge retention. However, for our school, it is always considered as critical when it comes to the long-term success of the organization.
Our organization regards knowledge retention as a strategy applied in knowledge management. It figures out the knowledge resources that appear at risk and then ensures knowledge retention. Allan (2010) advises to implement specific initiatives so that these resources remain in the group. Our organization has also developed a culture of learning and sharing information to enable it successfully to retain its knowledge.
Kirsch (2008) notes that there are specific questions that one must ask when thinking about knowledge retention, as well as prospective risks of losses in regard to education that must one must to consider. These questions are: Which knowledge might get lost? What consequences an organization faces after having lost such information? What kind of actions should an organization take in order to retain the said information? Our organization has cultivated a proactive culture in dealing with matters before they occur. It has paid much attention to how it can obtain more information with regard to the entire learning processes. It is inclusive of the non-documented implicit knowledge (Allan, 2010).
The main purpose for any organization to undertake knowledge retention is to ensure that institutional memory expands day by day. The medium has enabled our employees to learn from past failures and successes and thus to ensure positive results in the future. Liebowitz (2009) recommends that when workers of an organization learn from others, it comes out to be a useful process. It has been evident in our organization since our employees always avoided going the wrong way or rather repeating the same mistakes. Strategies of knowledge retention improve organizational growth, employees’ development, competitive advantage, innovation, and efficiency. Liebowitz (2009) stresses that an organization must endeavor to improve its models and strategies of retaining as well as acquiring knowledge. The recommendation was emphasized at the meeting of UNESCO in of June 2007. The following meeting was devoted to High Level Group of Visionaries, specifically Knowledge Acquisition and Sharing.
Our organization has invested much of its resources to implement various strategies and models of knowledge retention. First, our school has been exercising lessons learned- after employees complete any given project academic year. In its evaluation, the school management asks several questions such what was needed to occur, what occurred, why the difference arose, as well as the other individual who is supposed to know this kind of information. Another strategy that our school has put into practice is communities of practice. The strategy has been helping our organization in knowledge retention. Frequently, our employees have to cross organizational boundaries. Whenever this happens, they manage to move to other groups and then share information about new ideas regarding various work issues and topics.
Other approaches employed in this scenario include: the development of programs for apprenticeships and mentoring. The school has programs aimed at transferring tacit information from the experienced employees to new ones. This act happens to be the norm in the education sectors. Another approach that the school uses to boost its knowledge retention is retirees leveraging. Our organization has always acknowledged that retirees are very crucial in the process of knowledge retention. They share skills and experiences through mentoring programs created for new employees, as well as participating in various training activities, for instance storytelling. They are also in a position to offer the required experience and skills touching on specific areas. Additionally, the school has taken precautionary measures to ensure that employees share the available and valuable information. It is of great significance not to allow such knowledge to disappear or to be taken by the endeavors. Active models and strategies are considered essential in transferring and retaining knowledge. The top management has been prioritizing these models and strategies.
Smith (2007) proposes various tools and techniques that can allow retaining knowledge. Such tools include: storytelling, job rotation, job shadowing and mentoring programs, processes manuals, interviews and exit interviews, and after action reviews. Others are structures used while rewarding employees. The structures have to be implemented so as to promote knowledge sharing and make use of the retirees’ knowledge.
Doan, Rosenthal-Sabroux, and Grundstein (2011) propose three questions that have also been fundamental in every organization during the process of knowledge retention. Scholars suggest that an organization should ask questions regarding the kind of knowledge that is at risk of loss. It is also very important to consider the consequences that an organization faces after having lost the said information. The two issues will inform the kind of actions needed to retain such knowledge. Our organization has realized that necessary steps concerning the knowledge retention strategy should be formulated whenever there is a need.
One aspect of knowledge retention, which has been very vital in the retention of knowledge in our organization, is the understanding of the risk factor. As Liebowitz (2011) states, the management performs the necessary steps to ensure that it is in a position to know its risk factor. For example, whenever there is high average age for employees, a insufficient focus of the organization should be placed on the knowledge capture, employees’ development, as well as training and mentoring. It is worth noting that there is no or little informal communication going on in the school. In addition, it may also show that a good number of knowledgeable employees want to withdraw the school.
Another aspect that has been important to our organization is knowledge classification. It is of great significance for all the employees to know various available forms of knowledge resources of the organization, as well as their location. In fact, our school has identified the number of knowledge retention pillars that are critical to its success (Liebowitz, 2009 & 2011). According to Gamelgaard (2007), the organization can introduce an approach where it can recognize the performance of an employee and then reward him or her accordingly. In our context, the application of the approach allows the school makes use of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. The school has also been employing the method of the bidirectional knowledge flow in knowledge management. These involve a tow-way process of capturing knowledge.
Additionally, as Liebowitz (2009) states, the organization can apply codification and personalization as another strategy in its knowledge retention. It uses various tools to achieve this. These tools include: rotation, mentoring, communities, culture affairs, action reviews, lessons learned systems, several knowledge repositories and so on.
Another strategy that the school is slowly implementing is the golden gem, which was proposed by the Corporate Executive Board in 2005 (Corporate Executive Board, 2005). It comprises such activities as consultancy, temporary jobs, re-hire programs, part-time work and so on. Other factors our organization has considered in this area are those proposed by Doan and his colleagues. Doan et al (2011) identify such factors as support from top management, learning culture, practices of human resource, and communication and information technology tools. All the above-mentioned tools are considered the critical success factors in the retention of knowledge.
In the entire process of knowledge management, knowledge sharing is the most important process within our organization. One of the techniques that our school has used to enhance knowledge sharing is pull. Allan (2010) describes pull as a technique when the worker looks for information sources in the library or on the internet. On the other hand, push is a technique when information is made available to the workers. For example, availing a newspaper in the office every morning will prompt the worker to such for the available or rather intended information. This process depends on the willingness and availability of the worker either to seek or receive the intended information.
There are various concepts necessary in knowledge sharing, some of which have been applied in our organization in practice. The first aspect is the aspect of explicit knowledge and knowledge sharing. Bukowitz and Williams (1999) propose some criteria that determine successful knowledge sharing. They include the user’s ability to state the crucial factor, awareness of the available knowledge, the ability to obtain the said knowledge and the guidance from the knowledge managers. Besides these criteria, our organization has also considered that all its workers should be in a position to obtain both the self-published as well as centrally managed knowledge.
Secondly, our organization has acknowledged the relationship between knowledge sharing and IT. The management has identified IT as a very essential factor in every stage of knowledge sharing. It is useful in content management, as well as text and data mining. The school uses it to identify users and respective roles, import and develop documents and multimedia materials, and manage as well as track various versions of the content. It also helps define the existing workflow of the content and assign the roles as well as responsibilities to workers.
To be able to promote, tacit knowledge sharing the organization has embraced socialization at the highest level during all its processes of sharing. Davenport and Prusak (2000) identify few factors that come out as relevant in this process, and which have been instrumental to our organization. The value of informal networks is of immense importance. They usually span hierarchies and functions. These kinds of systems should be supported by the management as they suggest different means of communication. The management has also been committed to recognizing the importance of misunderstandings within the organization. Such a strategy points to the way of unorganized work practices where social interactions and experimentation are of great significance. Finally, Swan, Robertson, & Newell (2002) note that there exists undue focus of IT related focus placed on organization externalization. They propose that organizations should not apply externalization, since the approach exposes them to difficulties in the codification process.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Our organization has been capable of developing a formidable knowledge management system. This has enabled it to gain a competitive advantage on the market, as well as to increase employees’ motivation. These kinds of activities have led to improved performance, efficiency and effectiveness within our school. In this way, the school experiences increased performance.
On the other hand, just like is the case with other organizations, there are some weaknesses in the knowledge management program. Allan (2010) categorizes such weaknesses into two categories as causal and resultant factors. Challenges that our organization should address to improve on its effectiveness include inadequate support from the management, non-availability of measurable benefits and performance indicators, organization structure that is improper, lack of usability, relevance and quality, responsibility, ownership and so on.
Conclusion and Recommendations
In conclusion, knowledge is very vital to the success of any organization. However, any organization that intends to take advantage of its knowledge must know how to acquire, retain, and utilize all the information it receives both from within and outside. Specifically, any organization should ensure that the sources, users, locations and complexities related to the entire process are considered in its knowledge management program. In this case, my organization must look for strategies to enable it to maximize on the strengths, as well as to work on the weaknesses. It will also need to foster a culture where utilization of these kinds of investments takes place.