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MNGT3002 Knowledge Management and Strategic Knowledge

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Questions:

1.Why did the expert see the problem as one linked to ‘Knowledge Management (KM)’?
2. Identify the types of knowledge which can be found in Snapshot Industries. Consider which elements are strategic knowledge.
3. Why were the resignations and retirements a problem? What could be done about this?
4. Identify the reasons for the consultant’s concern over leadership. How has Jim’s leadership affected the business? Can you see some ways in which Jim could improve his practices? 
5. In your opinion, which areas most need to reflect knowledge management principles? Why?
6. Do you think that KM is a strategy in this case? Why or why not?
7. Could KM solve all the problems of Snapshot? Why or why not?

Answers:

Introduction

Snapshot Industries deals with the production of plastics products with it main competitor being Orion. At first, it was under the strong leadership of Sam whereby the majority of employees were more loyal to their leader, the virtue that made them work in the Snapshot Industries for twenty years without any alarming challenges threatening its survival. The company was characterized with traditions where employees would interact and associate freely while enabling communication flow both vertically and horizontally.

With the immediate death of Sam, his grandson Jim who is MBA graduate took over the leadership. The leadership of Jim was characterized by drastic changes within the organization. For example, he started by procuring equipment such as shakers and movers, as well as acquiring several businesses in the service area and manufacturing sector. He increased the number of employees from 200 to 600 and carried out a thorough restructuring.

Jim introduced the ideology of working together as a team in different sectors. For example, there was strong marketing team that conducted efficient market research and product development that led to the improvement of both sales revenue and identification of consumers’ demand and wants. Besides, these team members would give advice on how Snapshot Industries should position themselves to satisfy the consumers’ needs and demands.

Statement of Problem

The problem began when Jim hired new employees who were experienced and talented according to him. However, the old employees found it difficult to transfer or share their knowledge with their colleagues who were hired by Jim. For instance, the original expertise that was being possessed by old staff members such production knowledge could not be shared through handwritten or by verbal means. This led to the production of faulty plastics products, one of the core products of Snapshot Industries and high level of the resignation of newly hired employees who found it difficult to cope up with the technological environment of the Snapshot Industries. High employee turnover gave major competitors of Snapshot Industries such as Orion a competitive advantage to attract and retain a large pool of employees resigning from Snapshot Industries, a move that crippled the its performance.

Collaboration among the employee within the Snapshot industries was also a major problem in this organization. Friendly coexistence among the team members or a good relationship between superiors and subordinate is a key driver to the effective performance of any successful organization (Torrington, Hall & Taylor, 2017, p. 16). This is because such collaborative relationship provides an important platform where employees can voice out their concerns or any improvement they see it is worthy for the betterment of the organization (Foss, 2016, p. 22). Alternatively, friendly relationship is associated with the free interaction of diverse stakeholders of the organization ranging from employee to general public, an interaction that will lead to innovation and invention of new ideas that will boost various operations of the organization (Hogler, 2006, p. 6). However, this was not the case in the Snapshot Industries under the leadership of Jim. The old members of staff were unwilling to share whatever expertise they had to the new employees. On the other hand, new employees felt as if they were aliens in that organization because they felt they were being prevented from knowing the important information that would have seen them perform better as per the standards of their superior Jim. This led to a frequent confrontation between them and Jim, and high cases of resignation from their duties.  

Purpose of this Assessment

This assessment propose the explore the case study on “knowledge management” and eventually answer the following question as illustrated below;

Q 1 why did the expert see the problem as one linked to ‘Knowledge Management?’


Knowledge management within the organization encompasses the creation of the new knowledge, and then shares this knowledge among the employees and finally storing it (Han, Kim, & Lee, 2013, p. 45). For the case of Snapshot Industries under the new leadership of Jim, the old employees who had worked under the Sam leadership were not willing to share the important knowledge that could be used in the production processes. The knowledge itself had been stored in the memories of these employees making it difficult to be retrieved whenever it was required. This led to a situation whereby new employees were not given the right knowledge at the right time and hence the emergence of this knowledge gap within the organization under the leadership of Jim (Han, Kim, & Lee, 2013. p. 36). 

Another significant factor that contributed to the emergence of this knowledge gap is the nature of the organization culture which was not collaborative at all. For instance, newly hired employees felt that it was difficult for them to integrate with the new employees a situation that made them consider themselves as alien to the organization who could not be given the important information to enable them to perform effectively in a manner that could contribute to the highest level of organization performance. This organization culture was attributed to the highest number of employee’s resignation.

With all the above cases, consultant expert could not comment anything else other than knowledge management in the organization, and therefore these are the reasons that prompted him to link the problem to the Knowledge Management.

Q2. Identify the types of knowledge that can be found in Snapshot Industries. Consider which elements are strategic knowledge.

The most notable experience within Snapshot industries is Tacit knowledge whereby the old employees find it difficult to transfer or share with their colleagues who were hired by Jim, for instance, the original expertise that was being possessed by old staff members such production knowledge could not share through handwritten or by verbal means. This led to the production of faulty plastics products which is one of the core products of Snapshot Industries and the high-level resignation of newly hired employees who found it difficult to cope up with the technological environment of the Snapshot Industries. High level of employee resignation gave major competitors of Snapshot Industries such as Orion a competitive advantage to attract and retain large pool of employees resigning from Snapshot Industries a move that crippled the its performance.

Explicit knowledge is another notable knowledge within this organization. For instance, there were centralized records for instance employees had to upload their employment details using online platform. This could have had significant impacts on the performance of the organization. For example, it is associated with effective human resource management, motivation methods such giving of employment leave could be recognized and be applied uniformly to all employees within the organization (Abou-Zeid, 2013, p. 72). This was the knowledge that Jim yearn to introduce to enable his organization to achieve this end goal, but it did not well in this organization due to the technological environment that dominates this organization.

The other element of explicit knowledge within the Snapshot industries is the personnel system where Jim develop his business principles basing on the principles, for instance, identified there was skill gap among the existing employees, and he made a decision to hire new employees who have accurate skills to fill in this position. These employees according to the expectations of Jim would discharge their duties in a professional manner and moved the Snapshot industries to the next level, a goal which is desirable to every transformative manager or organizational leader.

Another important knowledge within Snapshot Industries is computer knowledge for instance from the case study we see that with the leadership of Jim all departments were computerized and employees were required to feed their personal details to the computer such as an application for leaves and upload them online. This knowledge proved to be difficult for old staff members who could not even use a computer mouse and therefore there was a need for this knowledge to be imparted to the employees first.

Elements of strategic knowledge within Snapshot industries consist of expertise knowledge of old members of staff and management information system. This is because this expertise required a wide range of context such as cultural and technological, and many procedures for the employees to learn and apply them in real life situation. 

Q3 Why were the resignation and retirement a problem? What could be done about this?

The high level of resignation and retirement witnessed within Snapshot Industries led to the low productivity level. This is because human resources are important inputs in the production process of any successful enterprises or organizations (Snapshot Industry, 2009). Therefore, these resources should be supplied in sufficient for instance from the case of Snapshot Industries when one member of the team resigned there was a performance gap that adversely contributed to the low production level.

With the resignation of a talented and experienced employee, there was a loss of necessary expertise required in the production of plastics products. For example, when Jim confronted employees or team leaders on why there was faulty production of products, employees quickly justified themselves by the fact that one of their member who is expert in certain field of production process resigned or retired leaving them unable to fill that knowledge gap (Gottschalk, 2012, p. 12).

Resignation and retirement of employees are associated with a reduction of the number of employees in the organization. Employees are important inputs in the production process (Roeder, 2010, p. 65). Therefore, the organization should both utilize and management these assets effectively to achieve both short and long-term goals, one of these goals is to edge out their competitors and have a large market share. In this regard when Snapshot Industries lost its employees through retirements and resignation, it lost its glory, and it was almost overtaken by its competitor Orion Industries.

Again, resignation and retirement led to higher cost of production. This is because the cost of hiring new employees to work in the organization was dearly and when these employees are absorbed in these industries they resigned due to technological environment and poor organization culture, and therefore their outputs could not match with their inputs leading to loss (Drucker, 2005, p. 34). Again, the retirement of staff members prompted Jim who is senior most executive to hire new employees to replace and therefore cost is incurred in this activity only for these employees to the same route of resigning from their jobs. The costs of procuring raw materials were higher than the revenue received from the sale of final products thereby reducing the profit margin (Gottschalk, 2012, p. 39).

From the above cases, it can clearly be concluded that resignation and retirement of employees witnessed within the Snapshot Industries are major problem threatening the survival of this organization. Therefore, to address this problem, there is a need for efficient communication amongst employees and developing a better way of transferring knowledge and training through ways such as documentation.

Q4 Identify reasons for consultant’s concern over leadership concern? How has the leadership of Jim affected the business? Can you some ways in which Jim could improve his practice? 

There was the inability for this organization to notice that it was becoming more difficult to identify what types of goals to be achieved in both short and long term period to change the nature of the organization culture from non-collaborative to more collaborative to enable better sharing of important knowledge within the organization. This is because when team members shared their expertise while discharging their daily operations will yield to a higher quality of outputs that are likely to fetch higher prices in the market (Merrill, 2010, p. 46). Finally, increasing the profit margin which is not only the sole objective of the most successful organization but also the barometer of measuring the performance of the organization (Bratton, Grint, & Nelson, 2005, 64). Alternatively, there was the inefficient utilization of the expertise knowledge and skills possessed by the employees which are the main reason associated with low productivity within the organization. Therefore these were the reason behind the consultant's concerns over leadership.

The entrance of Jim as the senior most member of management of Snapshot Industries led to stressful working conditions of the employees who are unable to cope up with the competitive working environment for instance there those sections of employees who were not conversant with basic skills of the computer like using the computer to feed in data.

Jim introduced the ideology of working together as a team in different sectors. For instance, there was strong marketing team that conducts efficient market research and product development that led to both high sales revenue and identifying the consumers' demand and wants after that these team members would give advice on how Snapshot Industries should position themselves to satisfy the consumers’ needs and demands.

Jim brought about the situation of unavailability of important expertise within the organization for instance when he hired new employees to work in Snapshot Industries they were unable to learn the core technology of the organization due to unwillingness of old members of staff  to share this expertise among the new hires

Finally, Jim leadership was characterized by the emergence of inconsistence of a system for instance in the previous system under Sam leadership employees did not have to apply their leave vacation through online system as it was in the case of Jim's era of leadership. This system inconsistency led to a high case of employees' turnover within the organization which it almost cripples the productivity of the organization.

To improve these practices, Jim needs to give efficient training the new members of staff to enable them to perform effectively in a manner that will result in high quality of output. Also, he should create an enabling environment that facilitates the efficient flow of communication among the organization's employees.

From the case of Snapshot industries, it is evident that Jim does not respect the opinion of his employees for instance when gave an opinion that an important member of the team was missing and they are unable the fill in the knowledge gap. Jim did not consider this suggestion but rather he believed in bonuses, and other compensation benefits will bring change in production. Therefore in this regard, Jim should change his leadership to accommodate the opinion of his juniors.

Q5 in your opinion areas most reflect the knowledge of management principles?

Basing on my knowledge of principles of management advanced in the book the Classic General and Industrial Management, (Fayol, 2004, p. 36).  I will think of a field of expertise as an area that reflects the knowledge of management principles. This because when organization recognizes the value of imparting the required expertise to the employees will result in both high and quality outputs that are associated with customers' value and profitability to the organization in the long-term period. For instance from the case of Snapshot new employees did not have the necessary expertise to enable them to perform effectively with the resultant of this scenario being faulty products that could not fetch high prices in the market thereby this situation yields to low-profit margin an indication that the organization is performing poorly. Therefore, it is advisable for the organization for this case Snapshot Industries to devise ways that facilitate the efficient management of intellectual assets as this guarantee high-profit margin which is an indication of effective performance in the long run period.

Q6 Do you think Knowledge Management (KM) is a strategy in this case? Why and why not? 

Knowledge Management (KM) is the best approach for the organization (Holsapple & Jone, 2015, p. 98). Therefore, Snapshot Industries should adopt and use to address the problem of knowledge gap witnessed in his organization for the notably tacit-explicit knowledge which old members of staff found it difficult to share with the new employees due to the way it was stored. This was because there was no documentation of knowledge and training to enable transfer of this expertise knowledge to the new employees and therefore knowledge management which encompasses developing, sharing, redefining, and storage of knowledge would help address the problem of the knowledge gap.

Knowledge Management will enhance the capability of the employee to perform a specific assigned to them by their superiors (Gottschalk, 2012, p. 86)).For instance, if knowledge management was to be applied in the Snapshot Industries old members of staff could have shared the core knowledge to the new employees, knowledge which is necessary to produce high-quality products as opposed to faulty ones. This would have been reduced the cases where employees were confronted for performing poorly that could hurt their emotion and hence they would not be motivated well. Also, the cases of retirements and resignation would have been reduced greatly alongside their adverse impacts associated with high level of resignation and retirements.

Knowledge Management (KM) advocates for the effective documentation of the core knowledge in the database so that it can be imparted to the right employee at the right time (Šajeva, 2014). For the case Snapshot Industries, the core knowledge for production of plastic products was unavailable due to the unwillingness of old staff members to share this knowledge with the new staff. Therefore, if this strategy would have been adopted, it would have led to efficient sharing of knowledge among team members, a move that would have reduced the cases where faulty products are produced at the end of the production process.

Q7 Could Knowledge Management (KM) solves all the problems of Snapshot industries? Why or why not.

To my best of understanding, Knowledge Management (KM) could not solve the problem that Snapshot industries is currently facing. This is because the problem is not knowledge which can be stored to be retrieved in future dates but it is a tradition. For example, during the leadership, Sam employees were given opportunity to give their opinion on certain matter affecting them and the entire organization and this made them loyal and proud of the organization for longer period. This is contrary to the leadership of Jim where the hierarchical structure has totally change, and the employees no longer give their opinion on matters that touches them and the entire organization. This, therefore, rules out the application of knowledge Management (KM) as a solution to these problems.   

Conclusion

The problem in Snapshot Industries is a more organizational process whereby organization processes were not well organized for instance in the team members assigned to discharge duties in certain production sector were lacking technical knowhow. Jim had not organized organization assets such as human resources and equipment such that any combination of these will result in high-quality products that would have transformed to better sales and reduces cases of employees' turnover. This, therefore, rules out the application of knowledge Management (KM) as a solution to these problems.

References 

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