All entries for Sunday 12 June 2016

June 12, 2016

SME Knowledge Peculiarities

SMEs have certain peculiarities for knowledge transfer. Desouza and Awazu mention a few peculiarities of SMEs Knowledge Learning. While analysing it, it was very interesting for me to be able to relate a few of these to the SME my mother worked for:

Socialisation is predominant for knowledge Learning: The pijama's company was like that. There were no manuals or written procedures to follow. Everything was taught on a social way

Few problems related to knowledge loss: This refers to many SMEs being familiar ones meaning that the leaders of the company are normally also the owners. By this happening it is very difficult that the directors leave the company as its their company. This happened as well, my grandmother, mother or aunt never left the company so the leadership knowledge has gone away. Different to a Large company where the directors can be hired and fired.

Great at exploit external knowledge: As they don't have so many nor strict processes it can be easier to bring knowledge from the outside. Nonetheless, learning knowledge externally can be biased. It the company my mother used to work she was able to bring a lot of external information and apply it but there was always the risk of misinterpreting it :o !

The Knowledge Spiral (Tacit and Explicit)

On 1995 Nonaka published on the HBR an article about the Tacit and Implicit Knowledge Cycle.

Nonaka explained that knowledge could be created by a spiral of 4 steps; Socialization, Externalization, Combination and Internalisation. First, during the socialization the individual learns the tacit knowledge that can be via sharing experiences, observing or imitating. Then, there exists an externalization that could be writing the knowledge down, communicating or modeling where it becomes from tacit to explicit. As a third step, there's the combination which means standarizing the knoledge in an Explicit -> Explicit transfer such as making a manual or a product combination. And last happens the Internalization where the knowledge enriches its own tacit knowledge base. The importance is that it keeps as a cycle and doesn't stop.

It may be common that in companies, the employees do not know explicitely this process but it is important that the HR function and leaders do. That they are conscious that their processes are supporting the cycle. By assuring it, they will be able to predict a good knowledge translation in their company from tacit to explicit knowledge.

I worked in HR in three different companies (Nestle, Mercedes Benz and Procter and Gamble) and in none of them I heard ever about this topic. I hope it is because this is spoken like this explicitely on the highest levels, otherwise I would be a bit worried about it. What I want to do for sure is implement it on the next place I work. If I get the consulting job I'm looking for I will try to implement it and explain to my customers as well. Maybe it doesn't need to be exactly with the official names but I can translate it into easier words with examples, something to make it even easier to remember and to apply it.

Nonaka Knowledge Cycle

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