Knowledge Sharing in Real Life

Tsoukas & Vladimirou³… The title of the article is “What is organizational knowledge?” and the third sentence of the abstract mentions Polanyi so I’m hoping this article will explain some things. This article was actually a lot easier to understand than I feared it would be. Of course, the part that stood out the most to me was Tsoukas and Vladimiro’s research at a call center in Greece.

Narrating work-related episodes to one another about, for example, awkward customers and uncommon questions tackled creates an environment in which the ties of community are reinforced, collective memory is enriched, and individual knowledge is enhanced.

Water-CoolerThey mentioned how informal story-telling was paramount to how they shared knowledge and that their work experience led to their ability to find information for their customers quicker. This reminded me a lot of Mary’s post The Story of our Work. She says “In stories we might be explicting stating what has happened in the past – our experiences – but the knowledge others gain from those stories is tacit.” So I guess the Polanyi bit makes more sense now.

The operator’s ability to see through a customer’s query, that is to make ever find her distinctions, is an important skill, which is developed and consular find him a job. (pg.987)

This, to me, is what reference is. As librarians, a huge part of any future job we have (whether we intend it or not), is reference. I have never sat at a reference desk before or taken a class where I learned how to give a reference interview. However, I did have 2 and a half years of speaking to customers at a call center and learning to see through what they were asking in order to answer what they actually wanted. That’s reference.

Cook & Brown² reiterated a lot of what we’ve learned so far this semester but I did like how they brought up that training and educational programs should aim at “both passing on knowledge to individuals and creating situations that help groups develop practices (ways of knowing) that make use of knowledge in new, innovative, and more productive ways” (pg. 398).

I really liked Bissett¹. I liked the entire article but I was especially fond of the “A ‘subjects-in-community’ learning model” section. The idea of a “‘network’ where different people, exhibiting a range of talents, would interact across a number of different dimensions rather than remain confined to one functional unit” is my dream. I love being able to lead only when my skill-set is needed and be just another team player the rest of the time. The ‘new’ organizational functions described in this article are what I am looking for in a future job and I am glad I found it written down somewhere so I know it’s a possibility.

Words: 468

Words I Had to Look Up

None this week! Isn’t that cool?!


References

¹Bissett, N. (2004). Diversity writ large: Forging the link between diverse
people and diverse organisational possibilities. Journal of Organizational
Change Management, 17(3):315–325.

²Cook, S. D. N. and Brown, J. S. (1999). Bridging epistemologies: The
generative dance between organizational knowledge and organizational
knowing. Organization Science, 10(4):381–400.

³Tsoukas, H. and Vladimirou, E. (2001). What is organizational knowledge?
Journal of Management Studies, 38(7):973–993.

Real Life Knowledge Management

space-shuttle-challenger-crewWhen I was dividing up the articles required for this class, three articles stood out to me as interrelated and extremely interesting. The first of the articles that stood out to me was Kumar and Chakrabarti’s³ article about the Challenger disaster. I was not alive when the Challenger disaster happened but I grew up hearing about it. I remember reading a story where the main character went back in time and witnessed a group of people seeing the disaster happen for the first time. This person knew what was going to happen and had known for decades by that point. However, witnessing this group react and be horrified for the first time really put into perspective for the main character how large and truly life changing this event was. Kumar and Chakrabarti’s article made clear the reality of the Challenger disaster through the managerial decisions made that day.

I read Abigail’s blog post before I had read the article and I commented on her post about how “it seem[ed] like the managers didn’t realize the importance of the information because they didn’t have the right knowledge to understand it.” After actually reading the article, I’m not that far off.

In other words, even though the managers had the very information in their hands that could have helped them avert failure; they failed to ‘see’ its relevance to their decision to launch. (pg. 938)

This quote just makes me sad. In very rare cases, I don’t like being proven right. This is one of them. Like I commented on Abigail’s post, “that makes a lot of sense why there can be issues when managers are just managers but don’t have the organizational knowledge to be a true part of the organization. I feel like there should be a checks and balance in place”. Sadly, it seems the managers weren’t making a bad decision with intent to cause harm but just because they didn’t know enough to understand the information presented to them in order to make a fully informed decision. The managers were ignorant; they had the information but not the education or knowledge. Being blind due to ignorance not lack of awareness should never happen.

Katrina Then And Now Photo Gallery
This combination of Sept. 11, 2005 and July 29, 2015 aerial photos show the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans flooded by Hurricane Katrina and the same area a decade later. Before Katrina, the Lower Ninth Ward was a working-class and predominantly African-American neighborhood just outside the city’s historic center. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, Gerald Herbert)

The second article I though relevant due to another real world example being used to discuss knowledge management was Chua’s¹ article about Katrina and Rita. I was alive during these disasters but was barely 15 years old. Reading about Katrina and Rita from an academic and management perspective was extremely fascinating since I can remember the news reporting on so many of the issues. After reading this article I was startled by the contrast of the report. In the Challenger disaster, the managers had the information but didn’t ‘see’ the importance of it due to not having enough knowledge. In the Katrina disaster, the managers had the information but did not react in a timely manner. Chua’s whole paper smacked of gross negligence on the part of the government and sickened me. Although if you want to make a analogy – engineers : managers :: NHC : US government (although at least the managers tried…).

The last article was Ibrahim and Allen’s² article about the oil industry. So, like a lot of articles I have to read, I didn’t really get what was going on in this one. They spoke and wrote very convolutedly in my opinion. However, the one part that made the most sense and stood out to me was the talk of trust. They wrote about how “the lack of trust could be a more crucial factor than the collapse of sense making in the first place”. It seemed a lot like when you hear about people’s lives being saved because they acted on instinct. If the emergency response personnel’s instinct is to not trust their superiors, then there is a breakdown in communication and information sharing.

In conclusion, this week’s reading educated me on not just knowledge management, but events that actually happened in history… and also made me sad.

Words: 667

Words I Had to Look Up

Bounded Awareness: When decision makers overlook relevant and readily available information and take a decision that is either suboptimal or entirely erroneous³.

Ignorance: lack of knowledge, information, or education; the state of being ignorant (Source).

Instinct: An instinct is something you don’t need to learn — it happens naturally, without you even thinking about it. An inborn pattern of behavior often responsive to specific stimuli (Source).


References

¹ Chua, A. Y. K. (2007). A tale of two hurricanes: Comparing katrina and
rita through a knowledge management perspective. Journal of the
American Society for Information Science and Technology,
58(10):1518–1528.

² Ibrahim, N. H. and Allen, D. (2012). Information sharing and trust
during major incidents: Findings from the oil industry. J Am Soc Inf Sci
Tec, 63(10):1916–1928.

³ Kumar, A. and Chakrabarti, A. (2012). Bounded awareness and tacit
knowledge: revisiting challenger disaster. Journal of Knowledge
Management, 16(6):934–949.

Trust & Best Practices

After reading Raphael’s and Audrey’s posts references Lucas’s¹ article, I wanted to read it for myself. Raphael definitely pointed out the importance of getting rid of factionalism and “instead implicitly encouraging the propagation of knowledge and skills to any and all inPodcasting-Best-Practices-Sharedividuals and groups within the organization that can make use of them”. Audrey spoke of social capital and the “importance of trust and the reputation of knowledge providers and recipients”. Once I read the article, these all made sense but (like always…) I thought back to my previous experience.

The article talks a lot about trust and how trust in an organization by its people leads to knowledge sharing. There are 4 aspects of trust Lucas talks about there must be:

  1. an element of uncertainty
  2. an expectation of some specific outcome
  3. the trusting party’s perception that the trustee is motivated to behave as expected
  4. unstated motives by both parties for meeting the other’s expectations

Once I read these, I thought about all of the group projects, both at work and in school, I have done. I have ALWAYS had an issue with trust other’s to complete there parts to my satisfaction, whether it was because I have high expectations and don’t trust the other Trust-tool3.pngparties to meet them (aspect 1) or I don’t think we have the same motivations and goals (aspects 2, 3, & 4). Reading in a scholarly article about how trust in an organization leads to  “increased knowledge transfer” and “full disclosure” made me realize how much I need to work on my trust issues. I need to trust that we, as a group, as working towards the same outcome and that our motives, while different, still mean that we will meet each others expectations. I really enjoyed reading my classmates views and then reading the article and coming to my own conclusions.

The next article speaks specifically about best practice. I had a difficult time Szulanski² primarily because it was a dry read to me. I did quite get all the minutiae of the paper but I did like the concept of ‘transfer of best practices’. I saw this a lot at the call center I worked at. We had multiple different departments and multiple different sites. If the site thumb.phpin Tampa had success with something, our site was then forced to do it. The problem with this, that Szulanski addresses, is that not every ‘best practices’ works the same with different groups of people. Szulanski talks about the ‘NIH syndrome’ or the ‘not invented here syndrome’ and it may seem laughable but it is really really real. When you create a workflow or guideline or best practice, you have stake in the game (or a horse in the race to use a work related metaphor). Having an outside force (even if it’s within your organization) tell you ‘someone else did it this way and it worked so therefore it must work for you and you’ll be punished if you don’t do it this way’ just plain sucks. It’s almost counterproductive. Szulanski also mentions ‘arduous relationships’ speaking about the tacit knowledge that comes attached to best practices that may not be known outside of that department therefore, when the successful best practice from one department is shared with others, it may not work.

The last article I read discussed electronic networks of practice. Wasko and Faraj³ talk about how, with the “advance in computer mediated communications, networks of practice are able to extend their reach using technolog[y]”. I never realized I was a part of an electronic network of practice until I read this. I am a part of many listservs through mybest-practices membership in the ALA, SLA, and SAA. The most important one to mention here I think is the one called ‘Lone Arrangers’, a listserv “geared specifically towards those … working in small or solo repositories” (Source). People e-mail the listserv to ask questions about best practices that they may not know but others do and knowledge is shared readily. I think our profession is hopefully more happy to share knowledge due to what we do for a living but I can understand being reluctant to share as well due to not feeling knowledgeable enough or not wanting someone to take your ideas and pass them off as your own.

I really liked the readings this week and can’t wait for my next post!

Words: 729

Words I Had to Look Up

Trust: “At its core, trust in the willingness of one party to be vulnerable to the actions of another party, and it is a function of access to information either through direct or indirect interactions”¹.

Best Practice: A best practice is a technique or methodology that, through experience and research, has proven to reliably lead to a desired result. A commitment to using the best practices in any field is a commitment to using all the knowledge and technology at one’s disposal to ensure success (Source).


References

¹ Lucas, L. M. (2005). The impact of trust and reputation on the transfer of
best practices. Journal of Knowledge Management, 9(4):87–101.

² Szulanski, G. (1996). Exploring internal stickiness: Impediments to the
transfer of best practice within the firm. Strategic Management Journal,
17:27–43.

³ Wasko, M. M. and Faraj, S. (2005). Why should I share? examining social
capital and knowledge contribution in electronic networks of practice.
MIS Quarterly, 29(1):35–57.