Reflect on Friedman’s concept of the triple convergence and its relationship to knowledge management. If knowledge is now socially developed, what is the role of leadership in knowledge management?
As the United Sates moved from an industrial to a service economy, knowledge management became a key competitive advantage and forward thinking organizations continuously advance organizational knowledge practices to compete in the marketplace. In essence, Dixon (2009) describes knowledge management as evolving from repositories to communities of practice to collective knowledge. In this new paradigm of collective knowledge, knowledge management is collaborative effort that permeates an entire organization. Dixon (2009) explains collective knowledge is integrating ideas through conversation whether in person or virtual from multiple perspectives; Friedman’s (2007) convergence to a flat platform enabled by the internet and sound business practices marries well with collective knowledge. To illustrate, social media enables conversation because many organizations have global operations and therefore employ people all over the world. For these organizations, geography is a barrier to collaboration and the internet links these employees to provide diversity of thought in the knowledge management process. Likewise, technologies such as skype enable conversations to happen across the globe. Dixon (2009) also provides organizations facing adaptive challenges, which lack a defined solution, look to entities outside its walls such as customers, suppliers, or experts from different disciplines. These web tools of social media and skype easily enable conversations with these outside entities in the knowledge management process.
Friedman (2007) provides another convergence as several billion people in China, India, and the Soviet Union available to collaborate on knowledge management. However, a limitation in this convergence (Friedman, 2007) is the information is dated. Bringing this convergence (Friedman, 2007) forward to today, as more people from developing countries come online, they can converse with the developed world.
Applying knowledge management to the author of this blog’s own organization of employment, he sees evidence of practices because his company uses a knowledge management repository and shares information through communities of practice. For routine tasks with known solutions (Dixon, 2009), employees at his organization access a repository to obtain standard operating procedures; an example is when his company receives a withdrawal request from an investor’s retirement account, employees access standard operating procedures to process the transaction. For adaptive challenges, employees use communities of practice by discussing the situation in open forums with peers to leverage the group’s experience to suggest solutions. However, the author does not witness his organization leveraging the latest in knowledge management. To illustrate, his company does not use social media in the knowledge management process. Moreover, Dixon (2009) provides transparency involves a leader acknowledges they do not have the answer. Conversely, the author’s organization uses a top-down structure where the CEO provides goals and employees carry out the marching orders. The author’s observation is that his CEO would never admit in front of employees that he does have the answers!
Because knowledge is socially developed, leadership’s role is to put structure in place to ensure the knowledge management process transpires. Dixon (2009) states knowledge management leaders are responsible for identifying adaptive challenges and convening conversations with the right people to tackle the issues. Honest information from employees is the lifeblood to this process and leaders build trust in an organization by promoting an environment where information exchanges easily and free from repercussion. To reiterate, the internet accomplishes the flow of information by enabling employees to share information and thereby break down hierarchical walls. Looking into the horizon, the internet and technology continue to evolve. Who knows what the next technology will be? To advance an organization, leaders should find ways to leverage technology strategically to facilitate organizational sharing of information. A leader’s responsibility is to make sure the process happens!
Dixon, N. (2009, July 30). Knowledge Management [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.nancydixonblog.com/2009/07/where-knowledge-management-has-been-and-where-it-is-going-part-three.html
Friedman, T. L. (2007). The world is flat (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Picador.