Creating Organisational Knowledge with Social Business Software

Welcome to 2013. It has been a while since my last blog, but over the Christmas break I came upon an amazing paper published in 1994 entitled “A dynamic theory of organisational knowledge creation” by Ikujiro Nonaka. The paper really enforced for me the power that organisations have with regard to the aspect of its people and how an organisation can become more innovative through this knowledge creation.

The following paragraphs are summaries of the paper.

The paper postulates that we are moving into a “knowledge society” and that the ever in-creasing importance of knowledge in contemporary society calls for a shift in our thinking concerning innovation in large business organizations. It raises questions about how organizations process knowledge and, more importantly, how they create new knowledge. Such a shift in general orientation will involve, among other things, a re-conceptualization of the organizational knowledge creation processes.

It would be true to say that solving problems in an organisation can only be done through knowledge and that the best companies deal with this in more efficient ways than others.

What is generally ignored however is the organisations ability to create knowledge freely as it is often resisted by hierarchies or silos within them. Any organization that dynamically deals with a changing environment ought not only to process information efficiently but also create information and knowledge. It can be argued that the organization’s interaction with its environment, together with the means by which it creates and distributes information and knowledge, are more important when it comes to building an active and dynamic understanding of the organization. For example, innovation, which is a key form of organizational knowledge creation, cannot be explained sufficiently in terms of information processing or problem solving. Innovation can be better understood as a process in which the organization creates and defines problems and then actively develops new knowledge to solve them. Also, innovation produced by one part of the organization in turn creates a stream of related information and knowledge, which might then trigger changes in the organization’s wider knowledge systems. Such a sequence of Innovation suggests that the organization should be studied from the viewpoint of how it creates information and knowledge, rather than with regard to how it processes these entities.

Although ideas are formed in the minds of individuals, interaction between individuals typically plays a critical role in developing these ideas. That is to say, “communities of interaction” contribute to the amplification and development of new knowledge. While these communities might span departmental or indeed organizational boundaries, the point to note is that they define a further dimension to organizational knowledge creation, which is associated with the extent of social interaction between individuals that share and
develop knowledge.

At a fundamental level, knowledge is created by individuals. An organization cannot create knowledge without individuals yet it is oftentimes difficult for these individuals to contribute to knowledge or create it due to hierarchical or silo barriers within an enterprise. With Social Business Software new knowledge associated with more advantageous organizational processes or technologies will be able to gain a broader currency within the organization.

Through the deployment of an SBS platform it must be remembered that group sizes should  be between 10 and 30 people with 4-5 “core” team members with career histories which include multiple job functions. This self-organizing team triggers organizational knowledge creation through two processes. First, it facilitates the building of mutual trust among members, and accelerates creation of an implicit perspective shared by members as existing knowledge. Shared experience also facilitates the creation of “common perspectives” which can be shared by team members as a part of their respective bodies of the existing knowledge.

Finally, in order to facilitate organizational knowledge creation, qualitative factors such as truthfulness, beauty, or goodness are equal important to such qualitative, economic factors as efficiency, cost or ROI.

Social Business Software provides a platform for organisations to create knowledge, innovate and ignite the spirit within its workforce as they are allowed to contribute and create within the enterprise.

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