Learning Organization & Knowledge Management


Learning organizations are not simply the most fashionable or current management trend, they can provide work environments that are open to creative thought, and embrace the concept that solutions to ongoing work-related problems are available inside each and every one of us.

All we must do is tap into the knowledge base, which gives us the “ability to think critically and creatively, the ability to communicate ideas and concepts, and the ability to cooperate with other human beings in the process of inquiry and action (Navran Associates Newsletter 1993). A learning organization is one that seeks to create its own future; that assumes learning is an ongoing and creative process for its members; and one that develops, adapts, and transforms itself in response to the needs and aspirations of people, both inside and outside itself ( Navran Associates Newsletter 1993).

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What learning organizations do is set us free because employees no longer have to be passive players in the equation; they will learn to express ideas and challenge themselves to contribute to an improved work environment by participating in a paradigm shift from the traditional authoritarian workplace philosophy to one where the hierarchy is broken down, and human potential is heralded. Learning organizations foster an environment wherein people can “create the results they truly desire,” and where they can learn to learn together for the betterment of the whole (Rheem 1995,10).

Has Knowledge Management (KM) been done? Of course, KM has been done. It is a natural function in human organizations, and it is being done all of the time in an informal distributed way by everyone undertaking activity in order to enhance Knowledge production and integration tasks. But whether formal interventions claiming the label “KM” are bona fide instances of KM practice is another matter entirely. To answer that question, we need to have clear, non-contradictory ideas about the nature of knowledge, knowledge processing, and Knowledge Management.

And to have those, we need to get beyond the notion that we can do KM by just doing anything that may have a positive impact on worker effectiveness while calling that thing “KM. ” Instead we need to recognize that the immediate purpose of KM is not to improve either worker effectiveness (though it may well do that) or an organization’s bottom line. Its purpose is to enhance knowledge processing (Firestone and McElroy, 2003, ch. 3) in the expectation that such enhancements will produce better quality solutions (knowledge), which, in turn, may, ceteris paribus, when used, improve worker effectiveness and the bottom line.

And when we undertake KM projects, we must evaluate the contributions of our interventions to the quality of knowledge processing and knowledge outcomes. That calls for tough, precise thinking about knowledge processing, knowledge, and the impact on these that our interventions are likely to have.


Learning Organization

Pedler “an organization that facilitates the learning of all its members and consciously transforms itself and its context”, emphasizing that change should not happen just for the sake of change, but should be well thought out.

Some definitions are broader, encompassing all kinds of organizational change, not just change through learning. Senge defines learning organizations as “Organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to learn together. ”

Knowledge Management

WIKI “Knowledge Management (‘KM’) comprises a range of practices used by organizations to identify, create, represent, and distribute knowledge. It has been an established discipline since 1995 with a body of university courses and both professional and academic journals dedicated to it. Many large companies have resources dedicated to Knowledge Management, often as a part of ‘Information Technology’ or ‘Human Resource Management’ departments. Knowledge Management is a multi-billion dollar world wide market. Lew Platt, ex CEO Hewlett Packard “If only HP knew what it knows it would make three times more profit tomorrow”. Sir John Steely Browne, BP, Harvard Business Review, 1997 “Most activities or tasks are not one-time events.

Whether it’s drilling a well or conducting a transaction at a service station, we do the same things repeatedly. Our philosophy is fairly simple: every time we do something again, we should do it better than the last time. GlaxoSmithKline “The capabilities by which communities within an organization capture the knowledge that is critical to them, constantly improve it and make it available in the most effective manner to those who need it, so that they can exploit it creatively to add value as a normal part of their work.

Review of the Learning Organization

Peter Senge, the Fifth Discipline “Strategies and Tools for Building a Learning Organization” In short : the Learning organization LO – an organization that is uses a management philosophy based on knowledge and understanding (not fear) for the Complexity of the real world. Understands that all the elements within the organization are connected and hence decisions impact different element in a counter-intuitive fashion.

Senge explains that there are five disciplines, which must be mastered when introducing such an organization:

  • Systems Thinking – the ability to see the big picture and to distinguish patterns instead of conceptualizing change as isolated events. System thinking needs the other four disciplines to enable a learning organization to come about. There must be a paradigm shift – from being unconnected to interconnected to the whole, and from blaming our problems on something external, to a realization that how we operate, our actions, can create problems (Senge 1990,10).
  • Personal Mastery – begins “by becoming committed to . . . lifelong learning,” and is the spiritual cornerstone of a learning organization. Personal Mastery involves being more realistic, focusing on becoming the best person possible, and to strive for a sense of commitment and excitement in our careers to facilitate realization of potential (Senge 1990,11).
  • Mental Models – they must be managed because they do prevent new and powerful insights and organizational practices from becoming implemented. The process begins with self- reflection, unearthing deeply held belief structures and generalizations, and understand how they dramatically influence the way we operate in our own lives. Until there is realization and a focus on openness, real change can never be implemented (Senge 1990,12).
  • Building Shared Visions – visions cannot be dictated because it begins with the personal visions of individual employees, who may not agree with the leader’s vision. What is needed is a genuine vision that elicits commitment in good times and bad, and has the power to bind an organization together. As Peter Senge contends, “building shared vision fosters a commitment to the long term” (Senge 1990,12).
  • Team Learning – is important because currently, modern organizations operate on the basis of teamwork, which means that organizations cannot learn if team members do not come together and learn. It is a process of developing the ability to create desired results; to have a goal in mind and work together to attain it (Senge 1990,13). To summarize, a learning organization does away with the mentality that it is only senior management who can and do all the thinking for the entire corporation.

It challenges all employees to tap into their inner resources and potential, in hopes they can build their own community based on principles of liberty, humanity, and a collective will to learn.

Review of the Knowledge Management

Organizations are realizing that intellectual capital or corporate knowledge is a valuable asset that can be managed as effectively as physical assets in order to improve performance. The focus of knowledge management is connecting people, processes and technology for the purpose of leveraging corporate knowledge.

The database professionals of today are the Knowledge Managers of the future, and they will play an integral role in making these connections possible. Knowledge Management may be viewed in terms of: • People – how do you increase the ability of an individual in the organization to influence others with their knowledge • Processes – Its approach varies from organization to organization. There is no limit on the number of processes • Technology – It needs to be chosen only after all the requirements of a knowledge management initiative have been established. The Value of Knowledge Management

Some benefits of KM correlate directly to bottom-line savings, while others are more difficult to quantify. In today’s information-driven economy, companies uncover the most opportunities — and ultimately derive the most value — from intellectual rather than physical assets. To get the most value from a company’s intellectual assets, KM practitioners maintain that knowledge must be shared and serve as the foundation for collaboration. Yet better collaboration is not an end in itself; without an overarching business context, KM is meaningless at best and harmful at worst.

Consequently, an effective KM program should help a company do one or more of the following:

  • Foster innovation by encouraging the free flow of ideas
  • Improve decision making
  • Improve customer service by streamlining response time
  • Boost revenues by getting products and services to market faster
  • Enhance employee retention rates by recognizing the value of employees’ knowledge and rewarding them for it
  • Streamline operations and reduce costs by eliminating redundant or unnecessary processes
  • These are the most prevalent examples.

A creative approach to KM can result in improved efficiency, higher productivity and increased revenues in practically any business function.

KM Objectives The graph below shows the results of a recent IDC study in which corporations cited various objectives for knowledge management efforts:  Activities related to these objectives include: creating knowledge sharing networks that facilitate a corporate knowledge culture, developing knowledge leaders, optimizing intellectual capital by producing knowledge management solutions such as codification strategies and knowledge bases, and estimating revenue and efficiency gains resulting from knowledge management in terms of return on investment (ROI).

KM ROI Although 65% of organizations that are currently implementing KM initiatives have not measured the impact of their performance, large revenue gains and efficiency improvements have been recorded by numerous major corporations. For instance: Ford Motor Company accelerated its concept-to-production time from 36 months to 24 months. The flow on value of this has been estimated at US $1. 25 billion, The Dow Chemical Company saved $40 million a year in the re-use of patents, Chase Manhattan, one of the largest banks in the US, used Customer relationship management KM initiatives to increase its annual revenue by 15%, and Pfizer credits KM practices for discovering the hidden benefits of the Viagra drug. Technologies That Support Knowledge Management The following diagram reflects the main technologies that currently support knowledge management systems.

These technologies roughly correlate to four main stages of the KM life cycle:

  1. Knowledge is acquired or captured using intranets, extranets, groupware, web conferencing, and document management systems.
  2. An organizational memory is formed by refining, organizing, and storing knowledge using structured repositories such as data warehouses.
  3. Knowledge is distributed through education, training programs, automated knowledge based systems, expert networks
  4. Knowledge is applied or leveraged for further learning and innovation via mining of the organizational memory and the application of expert systems such as decision support systems. All of these stages are enhanced by effective workflow and project management

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Learning Organization & Knowledge Management. (2018, May 27). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/learning-organization-knowledge-management-essay/