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Final Paper for Knowledge Management

Autor:   •  May 11, 2018  •  2,070 Words (9 Pages)  •  202 Views

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Various parts of the organization are eager to implement a more structured approach to knowledge management within Danone. Research and Development, in particular, has complained that, “IT is [a] key success factor… But … it is seen as a cost.” Others believe that, while the Networking Attitude can solve certain key issues for people, but if “it’s not focused on solving your key issues, it will not be very useful.”

The problem with the Networking Attitude events is that they take place occasionally, and problems cannot wait. These events also are limited to senior management. Usually they take place as part of a conference for these managers. It is unlikely that line employees would ever attend an event of this type, but these lower level employees need to be empowered to solve problems that arise; their counterparts in other CBUs, or perhaps even those in their own CBU likely have already solved some of the problems.

Danone needs a system for connecting people that will be available at all times, across the entire company. While IT has seemed countercultural for Danone, the increasing rapidity of the product cycle will make it mandatory that such a system be developed for Danone that both fits into the culture and that allows rapid, on-demand knowledge sharing. Once this type of system exists, it can be extended into the “Deeper, Wider, Richer” domains that are being discussed.

In order to access the knowledge that already resides in the firm, they must identify where the knowledge resides, what the knowledge is, and then provide a way for the knowledge to be shared and retrieved. This process will require a number of phases.

It may be that Danone is approaching knowledge management inefficiently. Their methods of person-to-person knowledge transfer, while a good cultural fit and while appreciated by those who are included in the Networking Attitude events, would be a more appropriate environment for a smaller firm making customized items. Danone actually needs to realize that it is solving the same problems over and over: how to ship fresh dairy products; which customers want which items; how to avoid stock-outs at retailers. They might be better served by a system that allows rapid access to proven solutions by all of their units worldwide.

Phase 1

Develop a computerized system that allows all CBUs to access information such as: product characteristics and shelf lives, the supply chain that allows the products to be produced in any given area, manufacturing specifics, and marketing and sales techniques. Many of these things should be largely cut-and-paste from region to region with only small changes. The current system forces many things to be reinvented over and over, leading to huge inefficiencies.

Phase 2

Develop a system that connects all the people all of the time. A Facebook-like social network would seem to be ideal for both Danone’s needs and its culture. Being able to share in a very fluid, less structured way would encourage people to want to share. It would be critical to have all of management be active participants in the network, to demonstrate its importance to the rank-and-file. Many of the employees at all ranks would already be familiar with Facebook and its cousins, and would find it easy to share similarly within an at-work system.

This system would need to be carefully developed to give high priority to structure and security. People would need to be taught how to use it properly, and governance structures developed, so that problems would be minimized.

The ability to translate posts and documents would need to be built into this system insofar as it is technically possible. Danone has already run into issues between CBUs with languages that are mutually unintelligible. Today’s technology does allow for rapid, fairly accurate, translation of written materials, if still not spoken language.

Phase 3

Development of systems to measure and reward the use of the above is important at this juncture. If knowledge management and sharing are truly valued and critical to Danone’s business processes, then employees and managers must all have the use and enlargement of the systems as part of their job descriptions and evaluation protocols.

Phase 4

Now that the knowledge management system has been extended deeper, to all of the members of the company, it should be extended wider and richer. If the first three phases have been successful, then adding outsiders (customers and suppliers) to the systems is the logical next step in gaining additional knowledge. Fostering innovation within the company is a vital step as well. Managers can start chat rooms and discussion threads about possible new products; interested participants can be identified and communities of practice can be formed in a much more organic way than is traditional; leading to new insights about products and practices.

These recommendations are likely to spark some intense debate among the upper management of Danone. Their insistence on purely person-to-person interaction in the knowledge management realm is slowing them down, however. These personalized events do not need to be discarded, but codification of knowledge is also needed. Maintaining the personal touch can be done, though an IT solution is required.

Ideas from here forward:

Propose a knowledge management and networking framework that Mougin and Benenati can implement to improve its effectiveness.

What are the phases that should be implemented?

- Define the business goal that will be achieved. Demand-led activity keyed to business results (Desouza’s paper).

- Learning from past experience

- Learning from others

- Strategy definition and communication (i.e. mainly person-to-person), emphasis on autonomy

- Connect strategy to performance

- Put key metrics in place

What learning structures, practices and processes would you recommend?

- See doughnuts IVEY CASE…performance to strategy…

- Communities of practice – you need practitioners …. Practitioner involvement is a KEY one…Wenger’s Doughnut Ivey Case emphasizes this….Domain Communities, Practices….drive strategy….learning,


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