The Need for Proper Management in the Knowledge Organization


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Global knowledge is increasing daily and with it knowledge organizations utilizing and capitalizing on knowledge. Worker management is critical in how knowledge is harnessed and organization success. Managers require not only understanding of knowledge organization meaning and operation, but also understanding of knowledge worker management styles. Managers outside knowledge organizations may have management styles considered traditional in nature but success in a knowledge organization hinges on how they adapt. The research conducted compares traditional managers and knowledge managers to create understanding and awareness of differences. The survey conducted shows data from managers who work in what are considered knowledge organizations. The data adds valuable information to existing research providing fresh insight into knowledge management from those who live it daily.

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The Need for Proper Management in the Knowledge Organization

  1. 1. The Need for Proper Management in the Knowledge Organization Loren Kielly University College University of Denver Capstone Project for Master of Professional Studies November 19, 2010 _______________________ Granville Jones, MBA Capstone Advisor _______________________ Patricia Greer, MBA Academic Director Upon the Recommendation of the Department _______________________ James R. Davis, Ph.D. Dean
  2. 2. Kielly-iiAbstractGlobal knowledge is increasing daily and with it knowledge organizationsutilizing and capitalizing on knowledge. Worker management is critical inhow knowledge is harnessed and organization success. Managers require notonly understanding of knowledge organization meaning and operation, butalso understanding of knowledge worker management styles. Managersoutside knowledge organizations may have management styles consideredtraditional in nature but success in a knowledge organization hinges on howthey adapt. The research conducted compares traditional managers andknowledge managers to create understanding and awareness of differences.The survey conducted shows data from managers who work in what areconsidered knowledge organizations. The data adds valuable information toexisting research providing fresh insight into knowledge management fromthose who live it daily.
  3. 3. Kielly-iiiTable of ContentsAbstract ............................................................................................. iiIntroduction ........................................................................................1Review of Literature .............................................................................3 The Organization ..............................................................................4 People ..........................................................................................4 Environment..................................................................................5 Traditional Management.....................................................................8 Management style ..........................................................................8 Understanding the knowledge organization ...................................... 10 Knowledge Management .................................................................. 13 Management style ........................................................................ 13 Understanding the knowledge organization ...................................... 16Design and Implementation ................................................................ 19 Results .......................................................................................... 22 Discussion...................................................................................... 43 Further Research Areas.................................................................... 47Conclusion ........................................................................................ 48References........................................................................................ 51
  4. 4. Kielly-1Introduction It is no surprise that the world is getting smaller. Technology hasbridged oceans resulting in increased competition for products and services.To survive against global competition, organizations must be proactive inanticipating demands for these products and services. KnowledgeManagement (KM) is the practice of creating, capturing, transferring, andaccessing the right knowledge and information when needed to make betterdecisions, take actions, and deliver results in support of underlying businessstrategies (Krishnaveni and Raja 2009). Knowledge management could beseen as one of these proactive processes for survival. A knowledgeorganization is one where most of the work is said to be of an intellectualnature and where well educated, qualified employees form the greater partof the workforce (Laise, Migliarese, and Verteramo 2005). These employeesare termed knowledge workers. A knowledge worker is one that createsvalue in the organization by acquiring, processing, and providing informationto create solutions and address complex problems (Gargiulo, Gokhan, andGalunic 2009). Wal-Mart, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM are organizations thathave implemented KM practices and are reaping the benefits. KM allowsthese organizations to be better prepared for change, and stay creative andinnovative (Bennet and Bennet 2001) which are essential components tosurvival in today’s global economy.
  5. 5. Kielly-2 Knowledge Management is not a new phenomenon yet manyorganizations do not see results and prosper like the organizationspreviously mentioned. Successful organizations understand that KM must beengrained into the culture of the organization. It is not something thatsimply happens by itself. Alberghini, Cricelli, and Grimaldi (2010) talk aboutcritical success factors in KM. They state that people, process, andtechnology are three areas of focus that help ensure KM success. The peoplecomponent is very important and includes organizational leadership. Plescanet al. (2010) added to the importance of people and leadership when theystudied why knowledge organizations like IBM were successful. Plescan et al.(2010) state that leaders do not understand that people like to followinformal procedures in such organizations, not manuals. Biswas (2009),when referring to the organizations culture also noted that one of the mostcritical factors affecting the creation, transmission, and maintenance of anorganizations culture is leadership. However, when it comes to leadershipand knowledge management, not all leaders are created equal. A traditional manager might think that the amount of work theemployee does, or quantity, is more important than the quality. Quantifyingknowledge work is difficult. Amar (2002) refers to this point when talkingabout the difficulty for managers to observe knowledge work because it isnot easily observed directly. Because of this lack of understanding, Amar
  6. 6. Kielly-3(2002) brings up the important point that the manager might not even bequalified to judge the employees work. If traditional management styles are prevalent in today’s knowledgeorganizations, then there could be an argument made that this is why theseorganizations are not completely successful. Success in a knowledgeorganization could mean a number of things. Transferring and convertingknowledge into new processes, new designs, licenses, patents, andtrademarks are all measures of success in the knowledge organization(Laise, Migliarese, and Verteramo 2005). Some traditional managers maynot be equipped with the personnel and management skills to lead aknowledge workforce team. By interviewing managers and employees in thecommunications, global electronics, and electrical engineering fields, thispaper will seek to add valuable information to this area.Review of Literature There is an overwhelming amount of literature available surroundingKM from an organization and leadership perspective. An article inHRMagazine (2009) focuses on the organization and how a culture of trust,relationships, and dialogue are the building blocks for organizationalknowledge sharing. The article goes on to discuss how leadership at theorganizational level builds the culture of trust, relationships, and dialogue bypromoting idea generation, innovation, openness, risk taking, and a no-blame attitude in the work place. With this in mind, it is important to
  7. 7. Kielly-4understand how the organization creates such a culture and howmanagement styles either help or hinder the process.The Organization If a KM strategy is to work, the first step is for the organization tointegrate this idea into the culture. The research presented in this papershows that there are key areas that the organization can focus on to do this.These key areas include the people in the organization and the environmentthat these people work in. People. Laise, Migliarese, and Verteramo (2005) state that onlyhuman beings can create new knowledge and that knowledge is theexclusive output of human activity. For the knowledge organization, this is acritical assessment. Organizations might focus on technology to createefficiencies and improve productivity but technology does not createknowledge that can be used by the organization to promote creativity andinnovation. Fixed information technology solutions are not the solution,according to Dawes, Cresswell, and Pardo (2009), rather the ability to adaptand learn from experience and knowledge. Alberghini, Cricelli, and Grimaldi(2010) agree, stating that that technology is there to enhance the ability ofemployees to recreate value added knowledge and increase the company’sintellectual assets. To focus on people, successful knowledge organizations put peoplefirst, which enables them to create, share, and use knowledge (Pop et al.
  8. 8. Kielly-52009). This is accomplished by ensuring that such ideas are part of thedefined organizational goals and engrained into the cultural background, andcommunicated clearly to employees (Laise, Migliarese, and Verteramo2005). This collaborative people focused structure then encourages thetransformation of tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge (Plescan et al.2010). Krishnaveni and Raja (2009) describe explicit knowledge as thatalready known and recorded in the organization, expressed in words andnumbers. Tacit knowledge is personal and hard to formalize. Krishnaveni andRaja (2009) in their research on why India has a successful knowledgeintensive economy attribute this to the fact that tacit knowledge is beingconverted to explicit knowledge. Knowledge creation, state the authors, isthe interaction between explicit and tacit knowledge. The authors alsoprovide a simple knowledge management life cycle that is followed by thesesuccessful organizations. Referring to knowledge it translates to acquire,organize, store, access, share, apply, and create. It is a simple yet effectivemodel for organizations to follow in order to keep people first. Environment. The environment created in the organization will helpensure that the people focused knowledge strategies move forward.Research by Riege and Zulpo (2007) noted the importance of managementin the environment. The authors found that the environment must promotethe passing of knowledge between functional workers and management.Functional workers are the knowledge creators, not management. The
  9. 9. Kielly-6authors state that managers must facilitate the flow of knowledge, creatingvalue at the management level because knowledge can now flow up thechain. Bennet and Bennet (2001) validate this when they found that a majorsource of opposition to the creation of a knowledge environment wasmanagement unwilling to give up its decision-making authority andempower the workforce in such a manner. The tone that is created in the environment is also an importantvariable to keep in mind. Key, Thompson, and McCann (2009) list 6conditions that are important to the knowledge worker in setting thisenvironmental tone. They include: 1. Clarity about tasks to perform. 2. The ability to manage themselves. 3. Encouragement of continuous innovation and creativity. 4. Continuous learning. 5. Quality of work over quantity of work. 6. Feeling of being an important asset to the organization.The feeling of being an asset to the organization has come up in theresearch of others as well. Mutsuddi and Mutsuddi (2008) found thatorganizations wanting to excel as a knowledge organization need to act inradically new ways and understand the competitive value of talentedknowledge workers. The authors found that creating an environment with
  10. 10. Kielly-7clear reward structures for performance is critical in improving the ability toretain, motivate, and utilize the talented knowledge workforce. Trust is another environmental aspect that must be present in theknowledge organization in order for strategies to work. HRMagazine (2009)states that trust, relationships, and dialogue are the foundation for buildingorganizational knowledge sharing. Dawes, Creswell, and Pardo (2009) alsotalk about trust and the importance of developing interpersonal trust. Theygo on to discuss the importance of trust to developing a broad and deepunderstanding of and capability for engaging in real sharing of knowledgeand information. It could be said that the environment is influenced by supervisorymodels that are in place in the organization. Moran (2010) states thattraditional models of supervision do not work in the knowledge organization.They go on to discuss that traditional managers do not understand thequality over quantity mindset of the knowledge worker. In such a case theauthor states that supervision models must emphasize collaboration andprofessionalism, as well as iterative work structures. To that point Dawes,Creswell, and Pardo (2009) discuss the need for legal foundation inorganization structures, supportive policies, and innovative forms ofleadership. The research shows that people and environment are key areas for theorganization to focus on to implement or improve KM strategies. Managers
  11. 11. Kielly-8are a key component in the knowledge organization and importantchampions to carry the organizations knowledge strategies through tocompletion. The focus will now shift to managers. For the purpose of thispaper it will be important to look at the research surrounding traditionalmanagement and knowledge management.Traditional Management Traditional management could mean many things. The research in thissection shows that traditional management might not necessarily be a goodmatch for the knowledge organization. Management style and basicunderstanding of what a knowledge organization is are areas of greatimportance for a traditional style manager in a knowledge organization. Management style. The style of management of the traditionalmanager has implications in the knowledge organization. Amar (2002) usessuper leader as an interesting term to describe the traditional style manager.The super leader is one whose leadership traits include drive, tenacity,toughness, and confidence. These are all traits perceived as being indicativeof a good leader. However, Amar’s research has found that these traits donot necessarily mean the leader will perform well. In fact, Amar found thatthe super leader traits obliterate creativity and innovation, criticalcomponents of success in the knowledge organization. Bennet and Bennet(2001) found leaders must give up some of the traditional style traits like
  12. 12. Kielly-9the super leader traits, as well as full authority and sole decision-making infavor of empowering the knowledge workforce. As learned in the research of Key, Thompson, and McCann (2009),knowledge workers perform well in an unstructured environment where theycan manage themselves and are empowered to make important decisions.To add to the notion of empowerment, Plescan et al. (2010) found that withtraditional style management collaboration and group decisions werelacking. The authors found that knowledge workers respond better to andrely heavily on informal procedures, not manuals and step-by-step rules.Informal procedures, note the authors, are vital to performing the jobbecause they encourage innovation and creativity. Informal procedures will not survive when traditional models ofsupervision are put in place by management in a knowledge organization(Moran 2010). Moran found that traditional managers want to see resultsand continue to micro-manage and supervise closely, but it is very difficultto see results in a knowledge organization. Knowledge work, states theauthor, is hard to observe directly and in many cases the manager is notqualified to judge the work. With such tight supervision the idea ofempowerment previously mentioned (Bennet and Bennet 2001) will bedifficult for the knowledge worker. Good communication methods with employees and involvement at thefunctional level are other areas the research finds lacking with traditional
  13. 13. Kielly-10managers. Biswas (2009) found retaining talent to be one of the greatestchallenges in the knowledge organization. Poor communication of strategieson part of the manager was part of the problem. Biswas (2009) cites holisticcommunication as a key area that had to be focused on. Holisticcommunication refers to organizational communication systems that help toformulate individual’s perception about their workplace from anorganizational perspective. Key, Thompson, and McCann (2009) found thatleaders were not building a learning culture, and not contributing at thefunctional level. They talk about an active learning environment, whichstates that continuous learning is essential and a core responsibility. Theauthors found that traditional managers need to show employees that theyare active learners as well, but fail at making this happen. They state it isdue to the fact that managers are not making knowledge accessible. Thiscould be due to the fact that in traditional style management, information iskept close and secret, shared only on a need to know basis (Amar 2002).Keeping information from flowing is not a strategy in a knowledgeorganization and could mean management simply does not understand whatthe knowledge organization is. Understanding the knowledge organization. Earlier in this paperthe focus was on the organization and how people and environment areimportant to creating a knowledge organization. While the conceptsdiscussed in each area are important at the organization level, they are
  14. 14. Kielly-11nothing if at the management level a culture of knowledge sharing is notcreated and encouraged (Bennet and Bennet 2001). As early as 1998 Faheyand Prusak (1998) noted that out of 11 deadliest sins in a knowledgeorganization, number one was manager’s not taking the time to understandand define what knowledge is. So how then could such a manager succeedin a knowledge organization? Quite simply, people and environment are again center stage. Theyare two key areas that traditional managers must understand with regard toknowledge organizations. Regarding people, Laise, Migliarese, andVerteramo (2005) make the point that failure results from not understandingand underestimating the human dimension in the knowledge organization.Laise, Migliarese, and Verteramo (2005) also found that since only peoplecreate new knowledge, they must be part of the business strategies ofmanagement. However, research by Bennet and Bennet (2001), Key,Thompson, and McCann (2009), Riege and Zulpo (2007), and Parris,Vickers, and Wilkes (2008) found quite the opposite. The authors foundmanagement unwilling to give up decision-making power and authority infavor of empowering employees. Their research also found a resistance tonew processes and structures that promote a knowledge culture, enhancingthe knowledge organization. In such a scenario, Parris, Vickers, and Wilkes(2008) found that managers who resist such processes and structures findthemselves working longer hours with increased burnout rates.
  15. 15. Kielly-12 Dawes, Creswell, and Pardo (2009) point to interpersonal trust as akey ingredient in promoting the knowledge culture. The author’s researchfound that by having trust in employees managers are able to putprofessional policies in place that allows for knowledge to flow through theorganization easily. The environment then could be said to promote the flowof knowledge. The environment can be influenced in many ways to allow forknowledge flow. Amar (2002) found that a key distraction for employeesinclude environment variables. These could come in the form of multiplemeetings, strict rules and policies that they have to follow, and specifichours to work, to name a few. According to Amar (2002) it is the job of themanager to remove these environment variables thus allowing the employeeto fully focus on the task at hand. Pop et al. (2009) discuss the need forknowledge audits to identify where specific needs are or to simply checkteam morale, which is very important. Pop et al. (2009) also found that theenvironment should focus on encouraging constant learning, and allow forpeople to connect with people easily so that knowledge can subsequentlyflow uninterrupted. To the traditional manager, this means removingcontrols and rules around how to work, and also encourages the removal ofclasses of workers which may inhibit knowledge flow and person-to-personcollaboration (Amar 2002). The research of Gargiulo, Gokhan, and Galunic(2009) uncovered similar data. Informal networks, state the authors, are
  16. 16. Kielly-13important to the knowledge worker in that they allow the workers to createvalue by acquiring, processing, and providing information to create solutionsto complex problems. The research in this section shows that management style and basicunderstanding of a knowledge organization are important areas of concernfor the traditional manager. By understanding these concepts and how theirrelation to knowledge organization could affect the success of thatorganization, managers might be made aware of errors or areas ofimprovement. What then does a knowledge manager look like whencompared to a traditional manager? The research in the next section focuseson knowledge managers and could serve as a guide to helping traditionalmanagers who may have found errors in their own styles.Knowledge Management Knowledge management, defined by Krishnaveni and Raja (2009), isthe practice of creating, capturing, transferring, and accessing the rightknowledge and information when needed to make better decisions, takeactions, and deliver results in support of underlying business strategies. Theresearch in this section takes a look at the knowledge manager, workinginside this definition. When compared to the traditional manager, theresearch will show differences in management style and understanding ofthe knowledge organization and it’s strategies.
  17. 17. Kielly-14 Management style. Soliman and Spooner (2000) list what they feelare key characteristics of a knowledge manager. The characteristics include: 1. Interpersonal communication skills 2. Passionate visionary leadership 3. Business acumen 4. Strategic thinking skills 5. Champion of change with the ability to withstand ambiguity and uncertainty 6. Collaborative skills (this is a rare skill and is the ability to pull together people from different parts of the organization to work as one team).Knowledge managers use these characteristics and skills in a manner thatsupports the knowledge organization. For instance, the knowledge managerunderstands that traditional authoritative leadership is not favored with theknowledge worker, and so is willing and able to give up authority anddecision making power in an effort to empower employees (Bennet andBennet 2001). With good communication and collaboration ability,knowledge managers are able to pass on tasks to employees with clarity sothere is a definite understanding of what needs to be accomplished (Key,Thompson, and McCann 2009). The common characteristic with thementioned examples is the employee, so understanding the knowledge
  18. 18. Kielly-15worker becomes a very important aspect of how the knowledge managerperforms the job. An important audience to understand for the knowledge manager isGeneration X and Y. The research of Amar (2002) showed a definitedifference in work styles compared to the generations before them. Theknowledge manager understands that these audiences feel they can handleany situation, with success as the only option (Amar 2002). Amar also foundthat for Generations X and Y, knowledge is technology, and not somethingthat is gained from previous generations through traditional methods. Theknowledge manager then ensures that the environment promotes the propertechnology and the sharing of knowledge through venues like onlinecollaboration. As previously stated, technological tools are only good if they enhancethe ability of employees to recreate value-added knowledge and increase thecompany’s intellectual asset (Alberghini, Cricelli, and Grimaldi 2010), whichis the case with Generation X and Y. Research by HRMagazine (2009)verified this by stating that understanding generational differences is crucial.Their research found that baby boomers like face-to-face interaction, whileGeneration X and Y prefer interactive virtual interaction. The authors alsonoted a few key areas to consider when it comes to the understanding theknowledge worker. 1. Ensuring that the worker is free from environmental constraints.
  19. 19. Kielly-16 2. Ensuring morale is good by instituting checks and balances. 3. Importance of risk taking and a no blame culture. 4. Earning respect rather than demanding it.Some of these key areas might carry over into organizational strategies inthe knowledge organizations, which is the focus of the next section.Knowledge management style could be seen as different from a traditionalstandpoint but the management style, as the research shows, helps theknowledge organization succeed. Knowledge managers also have a keenunderstanding of what exactly the knowledge organization means. Understanding the knowledge organization. A knowledgemanager understands what it takes to succeed in a knowledge organization.For example the knowledge manager understands that culture is at the coreof success, and that changing that culture is very important (Bennet andBennet 2001). Bennet and Bennet (2001) also share the fact that aknowledge manager plays a very large part in ensuring that the vision,purpose, and goals of the knowledge organization are clear to all employees.This sentiment is shared be Alberghini, Cricelli, and Grimaldi (2010) whostate that the strategic purpose of KM must be identified and understood byall. Alberghini, Cricelli, and Grimaldi (2010) found that by understandingthree critical success factors in KM, managers are able to ensure culture iscreated. These three factors include:
  20. 20. Kielly-17 1. People – leadership, a vision actively promoted by top management, and culture, the combination of shared history, expectations, unwritten rules, and social customs that influence perception. 2. Process – systems and procedures to promote efficient execution and adherence to policies. 3. Technology – collaborative and people oriented technology.Again, the common denominator seems to be people. Knowledge managersunderstand how to correctly manage knowledge workers, as learned in theprevious section, and use these three success factors in their strategies. Alsorelated to culture, Moran (2010) found that successful knowledge managerswere able to create a work environment that was not constrained by theattitude of “get it right the first time”. Moran found an environment that wasiterative and promoted experimenting with a try and try again attitude,ultimately promoted creativity and innovation in the knowledge organization.Failure then, was not frowned upon, but rather part of the knowledgeexperience. A key factor in a knowledge organizations culture is how knowledgeflows. Rather than traditional tiers of knowledge transfer a knowledgemanager allows information to flow in the environment via a no-fuss,personal, face-to-face interaction, which fosters ease and frequency ofknowledge exchange (Riege and Zulpo 2007). Dawes, Creswell, and Pardo(2009) add interpersonal trust as a key element in this environment, noting
  21. 21. Kielly-18that knowledge managers have the correct skills and attitudes to enable it.The authors found that such managers have the ability to understand,engage in, and promote the real sharing of knowledge and information withtheir knowledge workers. To the points listed, Pop et al. (2009) list keyareas that knowledge manager’s must focus. They include: 1. Knowledge audits to identify needs. 2. Knowledge strategies. 3. Connect people with people to share tacit knowledge. 4. Connect people with information to share explicit knowledge. 5. Create opportunities to generate new knowledge. 6. Encourage learning. 7. Encourage knowledge sharing by story telling.Such areas of focus enable knowledge to flow since people are the focus,and collaboration is a result. While keeping the flow of knowledge moving is a very important partof the knowledge organization, so to is keeping the knowledge workerhappy. As discussed earlier, reward structures might be different dependingon the generation of the worker. Mutsuddi and Mutsuddi (2008) in theirresearch on retaining talent in the knowledge organization list key pointsthat knowledge managers consider. They include: - Offering the right compensation, including proper reward recognition. - Conducing meaningful performance appraisals.
  22. 22. Kielly-19 - Designing jobs to appeal to the talented people. - Assigning the right talent to the right jobs. - Providing proper training, development, and succession planning. - Creating a challenging environment or excitement in jobs. - Providing unassigned time to seed and cultivate creative ideas. - Foster social bonds.Of the points listed a key consideration for the knowledge manager is properreward structures. Amar (2002) stresses the need to implement properreward structures, clearly defining them in such a way that they aremeaningful to that particular audience. This section provided an analysis of KM by taking a look at howknowledge managers are successful. Management style and anunderstanding of the knowledge organization are two key areas of researchfocus in this area. By considering the previous section, which took a look atthe same two areas from a traditional management standpoint, conclusionscan be made as to the differences and or similarities between a knowledgemanager and a traditional manager. The next section seeks to add to theresearch here by collecting data from knowledge managers in various typesof knowledge organizations.Design and Implementation In order to add valuable research to the field of KM and to try andprove the hypothesis that some traditional managers may not be equipped
  23. 23. Kielly-20with the personnel and management skills to lead a knowledge workforceteam, a survey was conducted. The Institutional Review Board approved thesurvey on September 07th, 2010. Managers in knowledge organizations wereidentified and contacted by email to determine their availability, interest,and time to complete the survey. Once a manager responded back indicatingwillingness to participate an email was sent which included a briefdescription of the project and what to expect. Also included with this emailwere two Microsoft Word documents. One was the project description,explaining the purpose of the project and providing any needed context forthe manager. The other was a consent form that was completed andreturned. Organizations represented by the manager’s cover the fields of globalcommunication, global electronics, electrical engineering, medicaltechnology, international banking, web technology and software, andgovernment services. A knowledge organization is one where most of thework is said to be of an intellectual nature and where well educated,qualified employees form the greater part of the workforce (Laise,Migliarese, and Verteramo 2005). By definition, each of the companieschosen could be considered a knowledge organization. The results of thesurvey were meant to show the managers understanding of a knowledgeorganization and try to gather data around whether they see a differencebetween a knowledge manager and a traditional manager. The managers
  24. 24. Kielly-21were not asked directly what they considered themselves to be. How thequestions were answered could help determine this. Another goal of thesurvey was to find out if there really is a perceived difference between aknowledge manager and a traditional manager, and if so, where does thetraditional manager need improvement in order to be successful in theorganization. The survey was hosted by a free online service called Survey Monkey( It consisted of the following 10 questions: 1. What does a knowledge organization mean to you? 2. What does knowledge management mean to you? 3. In what ways would you say that your organization is a knowledge organization? 4. In what ways are managers outside of a knowledge organization different from managers in a knowledge organization? 5. What strategies do you use as a manager to promote creativity and innovation? 6. Explain why these strategies are successful or not in your organization? 7. What is the most important management trait to promote success in your knowledge organization? 8. In your experience as a manager, in what ways are employees in a knowledge organization different?
  25. 25. Kielly-22 9. How could a traditional style manager be effective leading a team of knowledge workers? 10. If your organization were to hire or promote a manager, what would you say are the most critical characteristics they should look for?Each question required short essay answers providing ample space for themanager to write their ideas. The goal was to have responses from 10managers for analysis. Each question seeks to gain knowledge as to how themanager understands knowledge organizations and KM, given that theywork for a knowledge organization. The first eight questions deal specificallywith knowledge management, seeking valuable information from themanager. Question nine introduces the traditional management term. This ismeant to get the manager thinking about knowledge management andtraditional management, to see if the manager observes and believes eachas different. Question ten, the final question, directly asks the manager whatmanagement traits the company would be looking for should it hire amanager, an exploratory question to build off of perceived differencesbetween traditional and knowledge managers from the previous question. Results. The survey results show about a 64 percent return. Of the 14survey invitations sent to managers identified in knowledge organizations, 9responded. Of those 9 respondents, 1 individual did not completely finish thesurvey, resulting in 8 completely filled out surveys. An analysis of eachquestion follows in this section. Highlighted are key words or phrases that
  26. 26. Kielly-23helped provide clarity in the answers, and are also commonly found in theresearch. Question 1 directly asks the manager what they feel a knowledgeorganization is. Table 1.0 shows the answers for each of the managers. Theanswers seem to show an understanding of knowledge organizations, withsome very good explanations. Manager 4, while not directly stating so,touched on explicit and implicit knowledge, an important trait of knowledgeorganizations explained in the literature review. Manager 6 decided tochallenge the definition of a knowledge organization provided in the projectinformation document. The definition provided by this manager 6 seems tobe one based on much experience and a deep passion for knowledgeorganizations. With similar, yet unique responses it was clear that themanagers had an understanding based on unique work experiences. Alldefinitions basically stayed in line with the definition of a knowledgeorganization by Laise, Migliarese, and Verteramo (2005), in that aknowledge organization is one where most of the work is said to be of anintellectual nature and where well educated, qualified employees form thegreater part of the workforce. An understanding of knowledge organizationsis certainly an important factor in trying to prove the hypothesis stated inthis paper.
  27. 27. Kielly-24Table 1.0 – What does a knowledge organization mean to you? Manager Response 1 I understand a knowledge organization to focus on ideas, the development of new products and strategies, and intellectual property. 2 A company that has niche skills, heavy focus on IP and services 3 One that derives its economic value from a series of activities that are primarily information based rather than manufacturing 4 A knowledge organization is a group of people that have the common goal of capturing data, interactions, communications, and experience and translating that into usable and accessible information that results in increased efficiencies and archival references. Note, I consider a knowledge organization to be a department or company. 5 I believe it is just that, on organization of knowledge that is focused on a singular topic/field 6 I dont buy Laises definition of a "knowledge organization." It sounds more like the definition of a university or a "think tank." To me, a knowledge organization is one that intentionally treats its collective intelligence, data, and know-how as assets to be managed and reused. It has formal and informal methods for capturing information inside and outside its boundaries and turning it to productive use. A traditional manufacturing business can be a knowledge organization as much as any other organization, though "most of the work" would not be considered "of an intellectual nature." If the manufacturing operation intentionally puts its collective intelligence to work to improve performance, then its a knowledge organization. If it seeks external information (training, best practice research, etc.), and it puts that to work to improve operations, then its a knowledge organization. 7 Based on the definition provided in the prep materials, I would say that a knowledge organization is an institution of higher education. But Id also say that a knowledge organization is one that utilizes intellectual property as its product, rather than a manufactured product. However, there could (should) be multiple knowledge
  28. 28. Kielly-25Table 1.0 – What does a knowledge organization mean to you?(continued) Manager Response organizations within an organization that manufactures products as well. 8 An organization that bases its operation on research and data to effectively manages and implements its day-to- day operations. 9 A knowledge organization is one where the company recognizes the importance of and utilizes knowledge as a key competitive advantage. As such it mindfully pursues strategies, tactics, and designs structures to maximize the value of its knowledge. Question 2 asks the question of what KM is. Those results are listed inTable 2.0. The results show that all managers have a basic understanding ofKM. Referring to the definition by Krishnaveni and Raja (2009), KM is thepractice of creating, capturing, transferring, and accessing the rightknowledge and information when needed to make better decisions, takeactions, and deliver results in support of underlying business strategies. Allthe managers seemed to stay in line with this definition. Given the fact thatall these managers worked in different industries, the definitions given werefairly close helping prove that the term is certainly known. Manager 6 had aninteresting comment stating that KM is the management of wisdom, ratherthan data. Reflecting on the research by Krishnaveni and Raja (2009) this isnot completely accurate. Wisdom is considered tacit knowledge, while datacould be seen as explicit knowledge. Krishnaveni and Raja (2009) in theirresearch on why India has a successful knowledge intensive economy
  29. 29. Kielly-26attribute this to the fact that tacit knowledge is being converted to explicitknowledge for use. Data then, is an important part of this wisdom as well, inthat wisdom can be converted to data making it accessible to theorganization.Table 2.0 – What does knowledge management mean to you? Manager Response 1 Knowledge management means managing in a way that makes use of data and statistics to govern decision making, not just using knee jerk reactions or "gut" feelings. 2 I would say that knowledge management is the capturing of ideas and the continued fostering of creative idea generation. In addition, youll need to eventually prove the worth of the ideas, therefore knowledge management could mean target creative idea generation toward a specific goal (i.e.; solving a specific problem) so it has a purpose and perhaps measurable goals. 3 It is the intentional cultivation of know-how and innovation to improve processes, products, services, people, or anything else relevant to the organizations mission. 4 The management of the data, that effectively increases the knowledge of particular field of study 5 Knowledge management is the processes that an organization follows to create usable information, archived experience, and intellectual property. 6 Collective management of "wisdom" rather than data 7 The ability to manage and leverage information and data that maximizes a companys ability to generate revenue and increase profits 8 I understand knowledge management to refer to managing the product development through processes, development, tracking etc. I also think that education / marketplace awareness plays a major role. 9 Management is the act of mindfully pursuing strategies, tactics, and structural design of the organization to maximize the value attained from the knowledge in the organization.
  30. 30. Kielly-27 Question 3 asks the manager what ways that the organization theywork for is a knowledge organization. Those results are listed in Table 3.0.The results provide great insight into why each of the organizations could beseen as knowledge organizations. Manager 6 summed it up well noting thattheir organization relies heavily on collective knowledge and expertise.Exploring data and using that knowledge to make decisions and create newideas was another area that each organization seemed to touch in. Manager9 also made a very interesting point. With downsizing in that particularcompany it was noted that individuals with certain knowledge were to beretained, showing the importance of knowledge to that organization even intimes of crisis.Table 3.0 – In what ways would you say that your organization is aKnowledge Organization? Manager Response 1 My organization is not solely a knowledge organization. I would say that the new product development realm does focus on ideas, strategies and implementation to compete in the marketplace. 2 We are a services company with capabilities that can be leveraged across our organization and with skill sets and experiences that are not "product" based, but knowledge based 3 We are a services based organization - we have no tangible product, our ability to command above commodity pricing is based on our collective knowledge 4 The organization I work for is a knowledge organization in that it translates and simplifies numerous data points into usable information by consumers. 5 My organization/company is the leader in our industry and is always looking for new and better ways to deliver
  31. 31. Kielly-28Table 3.0 – In what ways would you say that your organization isa Knowledge Organization? (continued) Manager Response our services to our customers, using past experiences and tying them to new technologies. Essentially, we are focused singularly on delivering 911 better than anyone else. 6 We have to constantly draw on each other’s expertise to create the best deliverables for our projects. We are very intentional in reusing collective intelligence (employees, contractors, industry experts, etc.). We also demand that decisions are backed up by logical arguments. Reasoning needs to be transparent and defensible. If we cant do this internally, then we cant do it for our customers. 7 The higher level strategic consultation. Forming a partnership with your clients that fosters ideas and problem solving. These are the things that create solid trusting relationships. Being an extension of my clients business. So in-tuned with their market that I can assist them in heading off competitive threats or leveraging opportunities they dont see themselves. 8 It relies on hard data to make many decisions. But it also relies on an in depth knowledge of the individual to determine how they will perform in particular situations. It also requires a firm grasp on all the minute aspects of the Organization. 9 Our organization relies a lot on historic knowledge. We have the added challenge of having to reduce our headcount substantially. We have sought to retain certain key individuals with knowledge, have needed to gather from outside sources additional knowledge. In addition we have had to implement new processes that substantially reduce our cost, can support a reduced scale, yet still allow us access to historic records to enhance our knowledge. Question 4 asks the manager what ways managers outside of aknowledge organization might be different from managers in a knowledgeorganization. Those results are listed in Table 4.0. Focus was a key word for
  32. 32. Kielly-29a few of the managers. For example, manager 2 noted that outside theknowledge organization managers might be operationally and tacticallyfocused rather than synergistic focused. The focus on new ideas and directfocus on goals were important differentiators in the knowledge organization.Manager 9 made an interesting comment stating that there are no managersoutside a knowledge organization, and that it is the awareness and usage ofknowledge that separates the two. This shows the importance of knowledgeto the manager. Another important response to note is that of manager 3.Thinking process and management process was noted by manager 3 asdifferences between two. The research provided in the literature reviewcertainly helps solidify this point, noting differences in thinking andmanagement between the knowledge manager and the traditional manager.Table 4.0 – In what ways are managers outside of a knowledgeorganization different from managers in a knowledge organization? Manager Response 1 Manager outside of a knowledge organization will focus more on tangibles, what exists today and how to achieve quarterly results. While managers in a product organization are focused on new ideas, determining what possible and developing products to help companies compete in the marketplace. 2 I would categorize it broadly as more operationally and tactically focused and less synergistic focused. 3 Thinking process, management process 4 Managers outside of a knowledge organization are consumers of information while managers inside a knowledge organization are producers of information. 5 Seems their is a more direct focus in a knowledge organization
  33. 33. Kielly-30Table 4.0 – In what ways are managers outside of a knowledgeorganization different from managers in a knowledgeorganization? (continued) Manager Response 6 Managers who intentionally drive employees to learn and improve what they do have to be knowledge managers at some level. There are plenty of examples of managers who make decisions based on unexamined past experience and/or unexamined industry standards. A knowledge manager is constantly skeptical of the received wisdom of an industry or past experience. 7 Managers within Knowledge Organizations should be encouraging creative thought. I say "should" because this doesnt always happen even in organizations that think of themselves as knowledge organizations. They typically ask you for ideas but really just want you to do your job. On the flip side, managers outside knowledge organizations communicate specific roles and requirements of their employees and expect the job to get done per the "proven" system that they have laid out. Knowledge Organizations approach situation with the goal in mind first, rather than the system. There are multiple ways to accomplish your goal. The knowledge organization recognized that and measures the outcome rather than the process. 8 Outside a KO managers may make decisions without knowing all the facts or simply making a quick decision in order to push things through. It may also mean delaying a decision if they are unsure of what to do...and do not have the necessary data in front of them to make an informed and educated decision. 9 There are no managers outside of a knowledge organization. Its more a matter of if they realize the importance of knowledge within their organization. It is the awareness of the importance of knowledge that differentiates the two managers. If a manager is aware of it and the importance of it, their actions will be influenced by their awareness of the importance of it. It will be a consideration in decisions that are made.
  34. 34. Kielly-31 Question 5 asks the manager strategies they employ to promotecreativity and innovation. Those results are listed in Table 5.0. Referringback to the research of Key, Thompson, and McCann (2009),encouragement of creativity and innovation are very important elements ofsuccess in the knowledge organization. Communication was a commonanswer among the managers. Various communication methods to promotecollaboration were employed as well. Manager 1 used brown bag sessions tocommunicate successes and ideas; while manager 6 employed 3-4 hourmeetings once a week in which employees collaborated on ideas using factsand research to back those ideas. Manager 7 made an interesting point, andone in line with knowledge organizations, in that he encouraged employeesto re-assess and realign their plans and methods to achieve goals. Anotherkey strategy, used by manager 5 was to include individual reward structuresin strategies, which are important to keeping knowledge workers interestedand feel like an important part of the team. An interesting point was madeby manager 9 who stated that his company is not currently in a position topromote creativity and innovation but he encourages communication andknowledge sharing across disciplines in the organization.Table 5.0 – What strategies do you use as a manager to promotecreativity and innovation? Manager Response 1 1. Communication
  35. 35. Kielly-32Table 5.0 – What strategies do you use as a manager to promotecreativity and innovation? (continued) Manager Response 2 Brown bag sessions to share project successes, development of sales/marketing collateral that can be used across accounts, networking sessions with other people in different internal groups to drive discussions and ideation 3 1) challenge thinking 2) challenge norms 3) performance incentives for creativity 4) carve out time 5) stimulate interests 4 As a manager, the primary strategy for promoting creativity and innovation is by giving a direction and letting people have the ability to determine the best path to follow. 5 First, I think CLEAR communication is required to promote "the team". In addition, I like to recognize team members individually, and I hold team members accountable for actions, I like to set parameters for team members to make some decisions on their own. 6 All members of a project team need to meet face-to-face at least once every week and work for 3-4 hours together in the same room. Prior to the meeting, an agenda is set that includes topics for collective discussion and decision. We also demand rational explanations for design choices. You cant say, "I just like this better." You have to articulate a position that can be understood by others. You need to make the logic of your reasoning transparent to the group. That exposes whether or not someone is working off of personal opinion (unexamined experience) or actually pulling in supporting sources to their thinking. 7 I ask my teams to continually re-assess and align their plans and their tasks with the goal at hand. Whether that may be to sell more products, save money, acquire new clients within a particular vertical, etc. I communicate the barriers/parameters at hand (budget, schedule, client requests, objective, etc.). Try my best to attach that to a measurable number that can be evaluated at the end. Then ask them to get it done. Thats not entirely true though, I try to lead them down the "right" path based on my knowledge of the most efficient process that has
  36. 36. Kielly-33Table 5.0 – What strategies do you use as a manager to promotecreativity and innovation? (continued) Manager Response been successful for me. Im hesitant to push "my way" too much, because who am I to say that its the best way. Sometimes I even specifically say that. It really depends on the situation at hand. Sometimes things can be under a very tight time line which dont allow for a new approach and possibly wasted time or budget. But, I first try to allow the exploration and self-driven learning to provide my team the platform for discovering a better way. 8 We implement our techniques and strategies with a governing system, but allow the co-workers (or teammates) to collaboratively figure out other options and to think for themselves. We also encourage thinking outside the box. We also ask thought provoking questions that develops other aspects of their life, besides there job, so that they feel a sense of being wanted and cared for. We also try to determine what strategies work best for each person, not just globally implementing a strategy. We believe in fairness but no equality. 9 Our current situation doesnt allow for a lot of creativity and innovation. However, I think the two most important strategies is promoting communication across multiple disciplines and multiple levels of an organization, and encouraging listing and discussions. In addition, I think it is important to push individuals out of their normal surroundings to encourage them to experience new things. Question 6 asks the manager whether the strategies noted in question5 are successful or not. Those results are listed in Table 6.0. Note thatmanager 1 chose did not give a response to the question. The strategiesemployed by the managers were noted as successful. The nature ofcollaboration and communication strategies allows the organization to evolve
  37. 37. Kielly-34and adapt, as noted by manager 4. Manager 5 and 7 note that the freedomof work environment leads to employees who feel appreciated, satisfied, andin control. It is important to note as well that two manages, 7 and 8, foundthat the knowledge management strategies were somewhatcounterproductive. The reason given was that some employees simply donot work well in an environment with such strategies, needing morestructure, guidelines to follow, and solid expectations.Table 6.0 – Explain why these strategies are successful or not inyour organization. Manager Response 1 No response. 2 They are successful b/c they drive networking and relationship building. In a knowledge company, knowing where the knowledge is is 90% of the challenge. You dont have to know something specifically, but rather, know where to go to find that specific information. 3 We have the critical mass, culture, and funding to allow these activities 4 In my organization, many of the products we are building are constantly evolving based on healthcare legislation therefore people need to have flexibility. 5 Team members appreciate the ability to be accountable for their areas, as well as, the recognition for a job well done. In addition, communication both on a professional level as well as a personal level increases team member’s sense of appreciation. 6 As a consulting organization, we have to convince ourselves first before we take anything forward to a client. 7 They are successful in the form of employee satisfaction. I work with many smart and creative people that enjoy looking at things differently and pride themselves that they do so. Without that freedom and ability to think, they are stifled and feel under-valued. Plus, I get some
  38. 38. Kielly-35Table 6.0 – Explain why these strategies are successful or not inyour organization. (continued) Manager Response pretty crazy new ideas and a few good laughs from time to time! The bad is that sometimes the outcome is not on target and now were in panic mode because its due an hour ago! That can be headed off with good management, not overbearing management, but a helpful assisted management. Another negative that Ive discovered is that some peoples minds just dont work this way. Some very bright and capable people thrive in structured, orchestrated environments and fall apart in a fluid environment that requires adaptability. 8 These strategies tend to be successful as co-workers become motivated to reach their potential...and are eager to have themselves as well as the group be successful. Sometimes they can be counterproductive as not all employees work great in an open atmosphere, and work better with strict guidelines and expectations. 9 They have been successful. First, it encourages thinking through problems more thoroughly. If I am going to bring an idea to a group, I am going to try to think a little more about what issues the group may have with the idea beforehand. In addition, everyone has a new perspective, a user, an implementer, a manager, and a vendor. Those perspectives can provide a more complete view of the problem and solutions than one individual. Question 7 asks the manager what is the most important trait topromoting success in the knowledge organization. Those results are listed inTable 7.0. Note that manager 1 chose did not give a response to thequestion. Communication was the common trait among many of themanagers as being important to promote success. Discipline to followknowledge management processes was noted as important by manager 4.Manager 6 brought up accountability and standing behind decisions.
  39. 39. Kielly-36Manager 9 simply says that the ability to listen is most important, a traitbacked by manager 7 who feels that the manager must understand he/she isnot the smartest person in the room so it is important to consider carefullyideas and suggestions of employees.Table 7.0 – What is the most important trait to promote success inyour knowledge organization? Manager Response 1 No response. 2 Communication and relationship building is foundational, but being able to deliver and be highly flexible in very challenging client environments is also a must. There is not one trait that matters, but rather, a comprehensive set of skills that someone must have to be successful. 3 Ability to manage cross silo through impact and influence 4 The most important management trait is discipline. Many people will not take the time to follow processes to create knowledge based on their experience (and creativity). 5 I believe the most important trait to promote success is communication 6 Demand that people be able to articulate clear reasons for the decisions that they make. Its imperative to hold everyone (including yourself) accountable to this level of dialog. 7 You are not the smartest person in the room and you are not the only one that has an answer that WILL solve the problem. Shut your mouth and listen. Be honest in asking for opinions. Just be honest all together. Form a team, not a company of workers. When people are passionate and enjoy what they do, you get a lot better ideas and harder workers that give a damn. You need walk very delicately around peoples ideas. It takes a lot of courage for someone to voice his or her ideas. If they get shot down or patronized, they may be hesitant next time to voice the idea that turns water into wine. 8 The ability to maintain communication with members...and an ability to make members feel that
  40. 40. Kielly-37Table 7.0 – What is the most important trait to promote success inyour knowledge organization? (continued) Manager Response they are valued and that what they are doing makes a difference, and that they have a say in the direction of the organization. 9 The ability to listen and broker solutions. Question 8 asks the manager how employees in a knowledgeorganization are different based on their management experiences. Thoseresults are listed in Table 8.0. Note that manager 1 chose did not give aresponse to the question. The answers by all the managers seem to set thetone that being ready to adapt to change is a key trait of knowledgeemployees. Managers 2 and 6 in particular mention adapting to change,running with new ideas, and not clinging to the past way of doing thingseven in the face of evidence showing those ways do not work. Another goodpoint brought up by manager 6, 7, and 9 is that these employees constantlyask why, sparking collaborative conversation, and questioning ‘settled’ waysof thinking. Manager 7 sums it up well, noting that knowledge employeeslike to explore, discover, and learn while they create.Table 8.0 – In your experience as a manager, in what ways areemployees in a knowledge organization different? Manager Response 1 No response. 2 More adaptive to change, quick to pick up new ideas and
  41. 41. Kielly-38Table 8.0 – In your experience as a manager, in what ways areemployees in a knowledge organization different? (continued) Manager Response apply them to the business context 3 How they are motivated and what provides fulfillment 4 In most cases employees in a knowledge organization or more detailed and more disciplined to follow process. 5 I believe there is more finite focus. 6 Employees who want to cling to a past even as all evidence points to a different future dont survive in organizations that intentionally cultivate know-how and innovation. On the contrary, employees who constantly seek career growth through continuous learning tend to do well in knowledge organizations. There are 2 key qualities we look for: First, employees need to put aside their desire to always have the right answer before contributing to a discussion. The need to be willing to "think out loud" in front of a group in order to further the discussion. Second, they need to be willing to question prevailing, settled thinking. They need to do it collaboratively and publicly so as to further the progress of whatever task is at hand. 7 They ask why. They realize that there isnt just one way to do things. They reinvent what they do everyday. They cant settle. They get bored quickly. Theyre energized by the unpredictable. They like to explore, discover and learn, while they create. 8 They tend to better understand the decisions that get made, and realize that even though not all decisions are popular, sometimes they are necessary. They have a belief that what is being done is fair...and believe that they are part of something bigger...not just a hamster on a wheel. 9 They have access to lots information. They are expected to and seek to know about their organization beyond their own realm of immediate duties. They are always curious and willing to contribute ideas.
  42. 42. Kielly-39 Question 9 asks the manager an important question directly related tothe hypothesis. The question of whether a traditional manager would beeffective in leading a team of knowledge workers is asked. Those results arelisted in Table 9.0. Note that managers 1 and 5 chose did not give aresponse to the question. Four of the managers pointed out that they did notreally know what the term traditional manager meant. However, they go onto provide their thoughts on the topic, with each of them describing atraditional manager in a similar way, with characteristics of being the soledecision maker or being a ‘command and control’ type leader rather than ateammate. These explanations are all in agreement with the researchprovided on traditional management in the literature review. The underlying theme in all the responses seem to be that thetraditional manager must understand how the knowledge worker performsday-to-day, as noted by manager 2. This means, as manager 4 explains,that the manager must have processes in place that allow the capturing ofdata, interactions, communications, and experiences. So creating theenvironment, as described in the literature review, becomes a veryimportant part of the manager’s job. To add to the environment, managers 8and 9 note that being a teammate rather than a simple ‘leader’ becomesimportant to the knowledge worker. Manager 8 specifically says movingaway from a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude, and listening to the ideas ofthe team. Manager 9 extends the notion of becoming a listener, adding
  43. 43. Kielly-40encouragement of communication, teamwork, and sharing of duties.Manager 6 describes the traditional leader as having to become a guide,creating the environment where the employee can thrive, while at the sametime guiding their energy in the right way toward larger business goals.Manager 3 makes the point of saying that many traditional managersalready lead knowledge workers. He says that traditional structures are notthe enemy rather senseless structures that might be in place in thetraditional environment. The important thing is to create an environmentwhere the employee processes and structures add and create value in theorganization.Table 9.0 – How could a traditional manager be effective leading ateam of knowledge workers? Manager Response 1 No response. 2 I think they can be effective, but they have to understand how a knowledge worker functions day-to- day, understand how they best communicate and leverage the tools that they use. 3 Many traditional style managers already lead knowledge workers - structure is not the enemy, senseless structure is the enemy - focus on value creating activities 4 By implementing process that people can follow to capture data, interactions, communication, and experience within the employee’s workflow. 5 No response. 6 Its hard to know what "traditional style manager" means. But I would say that a manager in a knowledge organization needs to be comfortable with managing people who have more know-how than he does. He needs to create an environment where they can thrive.
  44. 44. Kielly-41Table 9.0 – How could a traditional manager be effective leading ateam of knowledge workers? (continued) Manager Response But his job typically becomes guiding their energy toward larger business goals. 7 What is traditional? Seriously? I dont know what a "traditional style manager" is. If that means the manager that tells you your role then writes up a performance review for you each quarter grading you on a numbered scale... hell no! Managers in knowledge organizations need to honestly get to know their employees. They need to be a teammate. They need to not appear as a "manager". A knowledge worker doesnt want to feel herded. They want to feel that everyone on the team (that includes the seasoned and trusted captain... the "manager") is also contributing to the common goal. 8 By stepping back and allowing the knowledge workers make some decisions, and feel that have a say in things. Not branding a my way or the highway attitude, but still maintaining a discipline and controlled environment. 9 Im not sure what traditional style manager means. Ill assume it is more of a "command and control" type manager. They would need to change their style to listen, seek to maximize the knowledge of their team as a whole by encouraging communication, teamwork, and sharing of duties, experiences, and information. Question 10 asks the manager what critical characteristics theirorganization might look for in a manager if they were to hire. Those resultsare listed in Table 10.0. Note that manager 1 chose did not give a responseto the question. A good communicator was a popular answer by themanagers. Manager 2 noted that proven ability to deliver and be adaptive tochange as important. Similarly, manager 7 stated that being creative andhaving the ability to continually align tasks to accomplish organization goals
  45. 45. Kielly-42as being important characteristics. Manager 6 mentions the word ‘scrappy’as a characteristic they look for. This basically means that the individual canfind ways to get things done with minimal direction, and is ok with topleadership molding their ideas. Manager 7 makes a point of saying that themanager should be a teacher and sharing their knowledge an importanttrait, as well as the willingness to hire people even smarter than them. Thisis a growing trend, especially with the high intellect of generation x and y aslearned from Amar (2002), and many of them entering the work force. Beingcomfortable with this and using it for the better of the organization isimportant.Table 10.0 – If your organization were to hire or promote amanager, what are the most critical characteristics they should lookfor? Manager Response 1 No response. 2 - Communication and relationship building skills - Ability to be highly leveraged across teams - Capable of selling business concepts - Highly flexible and adaptive to change - Proven delivery success over a period of time 3 1) leadership skills 2) intellect 3) coach ability 4) "product knowledge" 4 Communication. 5 Effective communicator, has to have respect in organization, and has to be able to mange many tasks 6 We like to look for people who we describe as "scrappy." They figure out how to get something done with a minimum of direction. They are willing to have their ideas molded and shaped by management to reach larger business objectives.
  46. 46. Kielly-43Table 10.0 – If your organization were to hire or promote amanager, what are the most critical characteristics they shouldlook for? (continued) Manager Response 7 Honest and trustworthy. Creative thinker. Has a desire to teach and let others learn even more than they know. Confident. Self-assured. Able to hire people smarter than them. Caring. Understands the goals of the company and is continually aligning tasks to accomplish those goals, project by project. 8 - Ability to communicate - ability to motivate - critical knowledge of the organization and grasp on fundamentals 9 Experience in building bridges across an organization, in developing the expertise of people around them, and desire to continue to learn and develop themselves. Discussion. The results of the survey showed an overallunderstanding of knowledge organizations and knowledge management.Words and phrases used in the responses were in line with the researchprovided in the literature review around knowledge management andtraditional management. While each of the managers worked fororganizations that would be considered knowledge organizations accordingto the term, some of the managers might not be aware of this. Likewise,some of the managers might not be aware of the style of manager that theyare, be that a traditional or knowledge manager. While some did not knowthe difference between the two, many of the answers to the questions theyprovided showed an understanding, perhaps helping them realize thedifference.
  47. 47. Kielly-44 To prove or support the hypothesis that traditional managers may notbe equipped with the personnel and management skills to lead a knowledgeworkforce, the results can be grouped into four categories. First, themangers understanding of knowledge organizations and knowledgemanagement must be observed. Second, are they aware of knowledgemanagement strategies? Third, do they see or perceive a difference inmanagement styles outside of a knowledge organization that could beconsidered ‘traditional’? Fourth, based on differences between the two,would a traditional manager be able to lead a knowledge workforceeffectively? All managers had an understanding of knowledge organizations. Eachresponse had as its basis knowledge. Because of unique experiences somemanagers created their own definition, with those definitions certainlyshowing characteristics of knowledge organizations, noting such words asintellectual property, collective intelligence, competitive advantage, andstrategy. There was not one manager who answered the question statingthey did not know what a knowledge organization was. Similarly, allmanagers had an understanding of knowledge management. Their responsesseemed to provide insight into how knowledge management was put topractice in their organizations. For instance, implementing processes toensure the use of data and statistics in aiding decision making, or creating
  48. 48. Kielly-45organizational structures to maximize the value from organizationalknowledge. An understanding of knowledge management strategies was clear withall the managers. In many instances the strategy was simple, with clearcommunication across various levels a key focus. Brown bag sessions,weekly idea meetings, encouragement to develop new processes to meetdifferent goals, were all a by-product of basic communication. Proper rewardstructures as identified in the research, was mentioned by the managers asimportant in their strategies as well. With the correct strategies in place, itwas noted that employees feel in control and empowered. Such structuresallowed the organization to adapt and evolve in dynamic environments. From a managerial standpoint, it was noted that the knowledgemanager must understand that the employees are in many instances muchsmarter, and that being ok with that and using it to the organizationsadvantage is a necessity. All the points mentioned validated the research onknowledge management. It is important however to note that two managersthought that in their organization knowledge management strategies couldbe counterproductive. They felt this was important, pointing out that someemployees do not function well in such an open, collaborative environment,with little clear direction. This could be a potential problem for the manager,needing further research to identify solutions or suggestions to improve thatparticular situation.
  49. 49. Kielly-46 Perceptions of management styles outside of a knowledge organizationwere similar. The general feeling was that managers outside of a knowledgeorganization might have strategies and operations in place that are notconducive to a dynamic knowledge environment. Structure and defined waysof doing things would be more evident. As a result, thinking processes andpeople management was noted as being a major difference. Anunderstanding and teammate relation with employees might not be asevident outside of the knowledge organization. Sole decision-making and a‘no questions asked’ structure would take away the employee ability toexplore, discover, and learn. One manager noted that inside the knowledgeorganization adapting to change is part of the culture. Outside theknowledge organization the manager said that there is a tendency to cling tothe past ways of doing things, even in the face of evidence showing that waymight not work. Based on the response of the managers, would the traditional managerbe equipped with the personnel and management skills to effectively lead aknowledge organization? Overall, it seems that the managers felt thatcertain key areas had to be understood by a traditional style manager. As agroup, the managers defined the traditional manager as one who wantscomplete control, with little collaboration from the team in decision-making.If the manager decided to continue being the sole decision maker and wantto maintain complete control over the knowledge worker, than that would
  50. 50. Kielly-47not work well in a knowledge organization environment. The manager’s stylehad to fall more in line with that of a teammate or guide, allowingemployees to have control in their areas, collaborate openly, and makedecisions. On top of being a coach the managers felt that communication was akey factor in knowledge management success. If the traditional manager didnot have the correct communication style then it would be difficult to beeffective. The manager must understand the employee in order to beeffective. In many cases, this means understanding that although in amanagement position, the manager is not the smartest person in the room.Knowing and understanding generational differences in employees and thetype of work environment that maximizes performance is an area wheretraditional managers must be cognizant of in the knowledge organization.Ultimately, a traditional manager could be effective in leading a knowledgeworker as long as they were aware of what they needed to change in theircurrent management style. Further research areas. Due to the length and limitation of thisproject further research would be useful. While many knowledge managersparticipated in the survey it might be helpful to actual follow a manager for aperiod of time and observe the management style. This might help verifysome of the data that was provided by the manager as well as theinformation in the literature review. It could also provide more insight into
  51. 51. Kielly-48why the strategies work, as an effective manager could be compared to onethat is not so effective. Following the same idea of observation, a traditional manageridentified in a traditional organization could be followed. This could certainlyprove useful when comparing a traditional and knowledge manager. Forinstance, a scenario could be given to both types of manager requiring themto work towards a goal with their team. How each manager accomplishesthat goal could be recorded. Strategies, interactions, communications,collaboration, etc. all could be observed. Identifying a traditional manager who had moved to a knowledgeorganization would also be an interesting research area. Observations couldbe made as to the types of changes in management style that occurred, ifany. This would be an interesting scenario to follow and one that wouldcertainly provide insight for this particular paper. In such a scenario theresearch and data provided in this paper might prove to be a useful resourcefor the manager, bringing to light key areas where their current style mightconflict with the knowledge worker. Used as a guide, this paper might betterprepare the traditional manager for such a move.Conclusion Managing people requires the right mix of personnel and managementskills. In the knowledge organization this could not be understated. Thispaper focused on knowledge management and knowledge organizations.
  52. 52. Kielly-49Specifically, this paper focused on the types of managers that would besuccessful in knowledge organizations, be they traditional managers orknowledge managers. The hypothesis that this paper tried to support wasthat some traditional managers might not be equipped with the personneland management skills to lead a knowledge workforce team. For the mostpart, the data provided in the literature review and the primary researchsurveys helped support the statement. It should be noted that some of themanagers that participated in the primary research did not quite understandor know what a traditional manager represented, but the explanations theyhad given around good management certainly supported the data aroundknowledge management and the important traits and strategies needed tobe successful. The literature review provided research around management style andunderstanding the knowledge organization from the perspective oftraditional management and knowledge management. The data collectedfrom the surveys supported this data. It was clear that to be effective inknowledge management, communication, trust, and open collaborativestrategies are essential. Sole decision-making by the leader and closedcommunication have to be replaced with strategies that involve allknowledge workers, while also giving them the control and power overmaking decisions on their own. The manager has to basically take the roll ofa guide or mentor, not making the decisions for the knowledge worker,
  53. 53. Kielly-50rather providing direction and insight. Removal of environment variablesthat might get in the way of work is also important in knowledgemanagement. This might mean taking away or cutting back on meetings,strict work schedules, and miscellaneous jobs that take away the focus ofthe knowledge worker. The manager must also learn to be flexible and adapt to change. Withstrict policies and procedures in place in the work environment, it would bedifficult to move quickly with change and produce results in a timelymanner. In the knowledge organization this is very important. Being able tochange policies and procedures quickly to meet demands, and having faith inknowledge workers to be champions of the process, is a key trait needed forsuccess in the knowledge organization. Having faith in the knowledge worker means understanding theknowledge worker and how important their role is to the success of aknowledge organization. Managers must understand that knowledge workersvary from generation to generation. By understanding the working stylesand expectations of different generations, managers will be able to create anenvironment that promotes enjoyment and success.
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