Foods service company
Golden Arcs is a foods service company that serves the Britain market, with headquarters in Manchester and branches in 13 other towns around the country. Golden Arcs was established 15 years ago, with a specialty in outside catering for events and special occasions, as well as operating a bakery and restaurant at their physical locations. The company has established itself as a dominant player in the small to medium level events hosting of between 20-500 people.
The company has a total of 153 full-time employees, with 278 part-time workers and a total of 85 private contractors. Matt Kenton, a life-long hospitality professional and a graduate of the London School of Hospitality, is the founder and the current CEO of the company. The management consists of a team of Managers for each of the 13 branches, as well as overall executive officers for operations, finance, procurement and human resource management of the overall company. The branches operate semi-independently of the headquarters, with some functions such as accounting and some recipes being done there then distributed to branches on an as-needed basis.
The purpose of Golden Arcs, as stated in the company charter, is to ensure that customers receive the highest quality of catering and food services. Health considerations and reliability are the pillars of the outside catering services for the firm, with the restaurant and cake shops being designed to deliver the best dining experiences possible.
Current Knowledge Management Strategy
Since its establishment, the company's strategy has been providing quality food services and products at the lowest price possible, healthy and nutritional meals as opposed to calorie-filled junk food and quickness of services. The company leadership has created a friendly working community where workers are free to interact with each other at a personal level. The insistence on meaningful interpersonal relationships creates a friendly work environment that seeks to ensure that employees perform at their highest potential.
On evaluation, the Knowledge Management strategy used by Golden arcs is a conservative one that only focuses on the internal circulation of knowledge. Fifteen years ago, as he was starting the business, Matt Kenton did not have a much of an idea of what Knowledge Management is. What he wanted to create was a business in which new employees would be trained by more experienced workers in the company on how to perform various tasks and responsibilities in the workplace. The knowledge that must be imparted to new employees upon joining the workplace includes handling of event demands that often require unique menus for each guest, packaging, logistics of prepared dishes as they are transported to the venues, and unique recipes.
The knowledge management system that works at the company is focused more on the sharing of information with new workers, and making new information on policies available for all. Information homogeneity is a principle that is actively pursued by the company and all of its branches, and it applies to policy communication, business decisions as well as grapevine with all employees being expected to help pass the word along to their colleagues. Long-time employees are considered a hive of information by the newly-employed workers, and mentorship is enthusiastically encouraged.
For easier monitoring of operations in the different outlets, the company recently had a company portal designed. This portal helps the management monitor operations from a central position, with an all-knowing database at hand. All full-time employees are expected to log into their portals at the start of the work day and keep them logged on all day. Communication is made through the portals on ongoing event-hosting exercises as well as official announcements. The company utilizes Information Technology tools within the company because interestingly enough, no social media tools were established to boost the efforts of the portal, which is only an internal communication tool.
To make decisions on product designs, new menus, and recipes, as well as operational policies, the company relies on business partners, suppliers, and customers. This data is then evaluated internally and proposals formed on how to act on it, with the senior management staff being responsible for the final policies formulated from the information. The use of feedback from existing customers and business partners is a good idea, but more comprehensive market knowledge is necessary for more effective policy and decision-making.
The knowledge management of Golden Arcs Catering is limited by the overt focus on internal sources at the cost of external information of the customer base and market trends, which have left them stagnated with the same products for too long. According to Choi, Poon & Davis, (2008), the information to be inculcated into the Knowledge Management strategy should include both the tacit-internal that pertain to the business information-sharing among the company employees and explicit-external which focuses on getting a good understanding of factors outside the business that impact business activities.
The lack of social media strategy
Another limitation of the strategy is the lack of social media strategy in the current age of internet-centric knowledge management strategies. According to GaUEl, SzabUG, Csepregi, et al, (2015), the disruptions that are being brought about by tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube should be utilized by businesses to establish a closer relationship with the market for better information gathering. Operating in the foods industry, where the customer's well-being is directly affected by the quality of services, it is especially critical for Golden Arcs to create a social media presence that will allow them to gather information directly from customers, more so for the sake of new customers. The type of information to be gathered online should include changes in diet trends, market trends and health concerns.
For Golden Arcs to excel above the reducing sales and profits and revert back to the old profit-making ways, their KM strategy should change from conservative to aggressive. The management should create tools for the exploration and exploitation of sources of knowledge beyond the company, into the market scopes that have not yet been explored yet. Personalization of knowledge should also be adhered to, with customization, competency being boosted in terms of decision-making and problem-solving for employees in the course of their job. Creating a mentorship program should also be considered to create a cycle passage of knowledge from one generation of workers to the next.
According to Yates & Paquette, (2010, Pp6), Knowledge Management is paramount for a business to survive in fast-changing environments, as well as in ensuring effectiveness in economic activities for profitability. The model of Knowledge Management proposed for Golden Arcs is based on ttacit knowledge at four levels. The four levels are the individual, the small group, the organization and the inter-organization domain,' (Hedlund, 1994, Pp 73). The KM strategy at Golden Arcs is made up of tacit-internal features only, which is just one-half of Choi, Poon & Davis (2008)'s proposition for more comprehensiveness in sources of knowledge on which to base strategies on.
Effective knowledge management
Other aspects of effective knowledge management such as Montano, Liebowitz, Buchwalter, et al. (2001) system of creating a much bigger context of thought for better understanding and Choi & Lee, (2002) format of placing more focus on the creation of knowledge will also be integrated into the strategy.
Every company is comprised of the individual at the lowest level of organization, from which departments, divisions, and whole workforces are made up of. The individual as a part of the knowledge management strategy entails making know-how available to all employees such that they are able to work at their most productive level possible. With all individuals engaged in business activities of the company as knowledgeable as possible on their tasks and responsibilities, the organization becomes saturated with actionable knowledge, (Hedlund, 1994).
For Golden Arcs, the KM strategy will stratify information and prioritize the type of knowledge that every employee receives to make it suited to their roles in the company. The portal will also be fragmented to accommodate personalization of access to suit the accessibility needs of each category of users. The kitchen staff should access a database that gives them information on planned recipes for a particular day, the clientele specifications on meals and menus, and trends identified in the foods industry. This will make it easier for them to upgrade their cuisines as necessary, as well as identifying trends and market behavior at certain times, holidays and events. Giving them information on the financial trends of the food industry or tips on hosting events for less than 200 people, for example, does little to improve their quality of work.
The same applies to all other staff, knowledge relevant to the tasks done at the workplace is more important than generic information to all members of staff, from which concerned individuals are expected to glean off the knowledge required to enable them to perform better. This also fulfills the role of a KM strategy to boost effectiveness and profitability for the business.
The small group fits right in with the individual, being the pool of knowledge from members of staff engaged in similar activities. These groups are the divisions and departments from which employees engage in business activities that directly impact the business operations of a company. The group is the placement of knowledge in a larger context for better understanding and recognition, Liebowitz, Buchwalter, et al, (2001) in a manner that enables the institution to function better.
Golden Arcs should organize staff in departments and establish them as hotspots of information for their particular departments, such as catering staff, kitchen staff, logistics, accounts and such groupings. The portal should be segmented in such a way that every department is allocated space to create a database of information for their staff, which will, in turn, be converted into knowledge that can inform decisions, allow the business to function more efficiently and thus increase the profitability. "Exchange of information is also a vital aspect of knowledge management. (GaUEl, SzabUG, Csepregi, et al, 2015, Pp187). This is a core element of the change from conservative to aggressive KM strategy as prescribed in this paper.
Strong training programs
The company should also put in place strong training programs to train new employees on the nitty-gritty of business operations that have been ingrained in business activities over time. Such hacks are such things as the special packaging of food to avoid smashing, special recipes that are a specialty of the company and other such information. The training can be done from the orientation all through their work until such a time as when they can be considered to be up-to-par.
Training new employees on the specialty operations of the business activities, allows them to transition from classroom knowledge to industry know-how. The education creates a connection between the employee and the customer, as the knowledge has been accumulated over long periods of interacting with customers and fulfilling their needs. Externally, information on market trends and consumer needs comes from interactions with the product and feedback given by the customers. As this only gives business information that pertains to its businesses only, studies are supposed to be conducted online to determine shifts in customer needs.
Organizational domains are the highest level of information that is pertinent to the whole institution, which encompasses all departments and individuals within it. The knowledge that falls under this category includes company strategy, policy decisions, market analysis, and financial information, among others. The organization as a domain for knowledge management encompasses the tacit-internal factors, with the top management staff being the senior-most authority. Access to some of the more sensitive information should be limited to the policy makers to establish a status quo.
Golden Arcs' current knowledge management system is developed around the organization, making information homogenous to every employee. This lack of knowledge stratification gives too much information to employees, some of which does not improve their ability to perform their jobs in any way. The new KM strategy will focus more on information in on as-needed basis. A hierarchy of information is to be established, such that employees access personal information, departmental and then company information as determined by the Information office. Depending on the level of clearance of the employee, policy information can be made accessible higher up the chain of command.
For the inter-organizational domain, information on the industry is exchanged between businesses that comprise of the industry. At this level, the economies of depth apply, whereby players in the industry should target to have the most detailed possible information on trends in the industry. Senior-level management is supposed to ensure that the most recent, most up-to-date information is available for their policy and decision-making purposes. Studies need to be conducted on a regular basis to have recent knowledge on the target market as well as regulations placed on the industry that may affect the ability of the business to make profits. The inter-organizational domain is the explicit-external that is necessary to incorporate with the tacit-internal, and it is also a creation model that focuses on the gathering of data.
For Golden Arcs the external model of gathering information is hampered by an extremely internally oriented system. Choi & Lee (2002, Pp 77) attribute poor performance in business to lack of efficient structures for knowledge creation. Dropping sales at the company at a time when the industry is on an upwards growth indicates that some problems exist at the company that hampers its growth. With no sufficient tools being put in place to gather and process information into actionable knowledge, it becomes very hard for the business to keep up with changes in the industry. As other players in the industry continue to reinvent themselves in line with market dynamics, customers move away to businesses that better understand their needs.
Video conferencing and management information systems
Tools proposed for the dissemination, transmission, and representation of knowledge for Golden Arcs includes video conferencing and management information systems to boost the knowledge portal that is already in use. By stratifying the access to information and giving information to employees on an as-needed basis, knowledge stops being a burden to the workers. Too much information that does not boost the business activities of an employee becomes too much of a bother to them, hampering efficiency. The proposed tools support knowledge management by making every employee part of the process of information exchange.
Video conferencing is proposed for distant communication between management staff at all the company's branches with headquarters. Exchange of market knowledge, financial information, policy communication can be made so much easier, convenient and accurate with physical tools of video conferencing such as the face-to-face feature, which allows for the use of graphics to present knowledge to an audience. The tool is also suitable due to the economies of transport and time; it saves users the cost and time of traveling to and from meetings and allows them to dedicate more time to their duties.
Information-processing applications will also be developed to support management staff in the execution of their responsibilities. Due to the crucial role played by the management in organizing and coordinating other factors of production of the company such as the workforce, sales and marketing, strategies and others, ensuring that they have the most up-to-date information is critical for success. The system will utilize all data gathered in the company at any given time, on sales, distributions, trends, and job performance. Processing software will then be used to organize the information into actionable knowledge on which policies and decisions will be made.
Golden Arcs should open accounts on all popular social networking sites
Golden Arcs should open accounts on all popular social networking sites and employ a team of dedicated social media experts charged with interacting with users online. Comments, complaints, and general response are recorded in accordance with company policies for future use. As current trends in business have continually changed in line with the internet, brand promotion can also be inculcated into the communication strategies of the company, taking the opportunity of gathering customer information online to disseminate marketing material.
Social media is the new front in knowledge management strategy due to the potential it creates for businesses to not only gain market intelligence but also establish close relationships with the customer, (GaUEl, SzabUG, Csepregi, et al., 2015). Social media presence for businesses is an essential consideration in developing a comprehensive KM system. With personal interactions that are made possible in platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, where trending topics, likes, and retweets give current feedback on communications.
Capturing of knowledge should be done through social media surveys and studies, where respondents answer pointed questions about a product. Their feedback is taken into consideration when creating strategies for knowledge management. Most social networking sites recognize the need for feedback between various parties and have established tools that facilitate polls, with visitors being able to answer customized questions that a business can easily frame to make it possible to turn it into meaningful KM data.
Other online sources include websites that are created specifically for polling, with respondents being people who have interacted with a particular product. These types of studies attract a fee that is payable to the respondents, but with the effectiveness of these websites, such polls are a better alternative to the free social media polls.
Research can also be conducted, with clearly established objectives that avail crucial information that is not available elsewhere. The information is then dissected and evaluated, then applied into the business to make decisions, create products and address customer needs. According to Sanchez & Mahoney (1996), physical products that are designed or made using knowledge gleaned from the market are more efficient and more sufficiently fulfill user needs. It is crucial to have a knowledge management strategy that emphasizes gathering of new information for use in business decision making.
Data capturing is made possible by the availability of specialized tools with which online interactions are processed into actionable information used in decision-making. Social media interaction between businesses and their clients continues to grow into a critical part of business Information Technology. Golden Arcs should put in place infrastructure that will allow it to tap into the overflow of information on market and consumer trends that are accessible online.
The aim of the company
The proposed knowledge management will impact employees of the company at every level, as well as the customers and investors. The aim of the company to give the highest quality of catering and food services will be impacted by the new strategy, as improvements will be made possible with better knowledge of the market. Rather than focusing on information gathered from former interactions with customers, which may risk stagnation on policies and products, market trends will be considered in business decisions.
Lowest prices possible for the highest quality of food services and products will also be made much easier by the new strategy. A better understanding of trends in the market will make it possible for Golden Arcs to get rid of operations that do not contribute to effectiveness. Having knowledge heterogeneously demarcated will also enable employees to perform much better by allowing them to specialize in specific activities.
Interpersonal relationships and creating a suitable environment for employees is another of Golden Arcs' strategies. Adopting the proposed KM strategy will make the departments the center of excellence in the company, their smaller sizes making it easier to attain and keep relationships close and personal. Forming relationships on the basis of business knowledge and excellence means that the business stands to benefit from excellence born out of these relationships in every department.
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Sanchez R. & Mahoney J. T. (1996) Modularity, Flexibility and Knowledge Management in Product and Organization Design, Strategic Management Journal, Vol. 17, Special Issue, Pp 63-76
Montano B. R., Liebowitz J., Buchwalter J., McCaw D., Newman B. & Rebeck K. (2001) A systems thinking framework for knowledge management, Decision Support Systems, Vol. 31, Issue 1, Pp 5 16 DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0167-9236(00)00116-0
Choi B. & Lee H. (2002) Knowledge management strategy and its link to knowledge creation process, Expert Systems with Applications Vol. 23, Pp 173 187
Choi B., Poon S. K. & Davis J. G. (2008) Effects of knowledge management strategy on organizational Performance: A Complementarity theory-based approach Omega Vol. 36, Pp235 t 251 DOI:10.1016/j.omega.2006.06.007
Yates D. & Paquette S. (2011) Emergency Knowledge Management and Social Media Technologies: A Case Study of the 2010 Haitian Earthquake, International Journal of Information Management, Vol. 31, Pp 6 13, DOI: 10.1016/j.ijinfomgt.2010.10.001
GaUEl Z, SzabUG L, Csepregi A. & Obermayer-KovUEcs N (2015) Exploring the role of social media in knowledge sharing, The Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 13 Issue 3, Pp 185-197 available online at www.ejkm.com
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