March 04, 2008

Knowledge Management

Knowledge is one sure source of lasting competitive advantage in an economy where the only certainty is uncertainty. The Japanese organizational theorist Ikujiro Nonaka said one of problem in the most western manager hold a too-narrow view of what knowledge is and what companies must do to exploit it. They believe that the only useful knowledge is "hard" (read: quantifiable) data. And they see the company as a kind of machine for "information processing." But there is another way to think about knowledge and its role in business organizations. It is found most commonly at highly successful Japanese companies such as Honda, Canon, Matsushita, and Sharp.

So we can see Knowledge management is very important in the company. Create a knowledge management is necessarily for a continuous and lasting developing of the company. But before this module I did not hear or know about the knowledge management.

The Spiral of Knowledge

New knowledge always begins with the individual. A brilliant researcher has an insight that leads to a new patent.

Tacit Knowledge

Tacit knowledge is highly personal.

Explicit Knowledge

The relationship between the Tacit Knowledge and Explicit Knowledge

1. From Tacit to Tacit. Sometimes, one individual shares tacit knowledge directly with another.

2. From Explicit to Explicit. An individual can also combine discrete pieces of explicit knowledge into a new whole.

3. From Tacit to Explicit. When Ikuko Tanaka is able to articulate the foundations of her tacit knowledge of bread making, she converts it into explicit knowledge, thus allowing it to be shared with her project-development team.

4. From Explicit to Tacit. What's more, as new explicit knowledge is shared throughout an organization, other employees begin to internalize it -- that is, they use it to broaden, extend, and reframe their own tacit knowledge.

In the knowledge-creating company, all four of these patterns exist in dynamic interaction, a kind of spiral of knowledge. Think back to Matsushita's Ikuko Tanaka:

  1. First, she learns the tacit secrets of the Osaka International Hotel baker (socialization).
  2. Next, she translates these secrets into explicit knowledge' that she can communicate to her team members and others at Matsushita (articulation).
  3. The team then standardizes this knowledge, putting it together into a manual or workbook and embodying it in a product (combination).
  4. Finally, through the experience of creating a new product, Tanaka and her team members enrich their own tacit knowledge base (internalization). In particular, they come to understand in an extremely intuitive way that products like the home breadmaking machine can provide genuine quality. That is, the machine must make bread that is as good as that of a professional baker

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