Systems Thinking Research

Published: 2018-08-29 03:18:08
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Knowledge management as a process that facilitates in the documentation and leveraging of shared knowledge

Irrespective of the significant role that knowledge plays within organizations, only a limited number of firms entirely comprehend what it entails to emerge as a knowledge-based company in line with ways of managing knowledge to realize the set goals. Knowledge management (KM) serves as a process that facilitates in the documentation and leveraging of shared knowledge within a company to assist a firm compete effectively CITATION Lie12 \l 1033 (Liebowitz, 2012). In the case of many firms, they realize KM through embarking on various initiatives that target building an infrastructure and culture that links processes and people. Often, the initiatives depend on KM information systems, including expert databases and knowledge sources, to facilitate in managing knowledge within an organization CITATION Pas11 \l 1033 (Pasher & Ronen, 2011). Nevertheless, although many managers consider KM initiatives are ideal solutions, only a limited number of them comprehend the challenges that KM initiatives should address. The result is that KM initiatives end up being expensive and frustrating to employees, as well as lack the emphasis needed to offer concrete value within a firm CITATION Abo07 \l 1033 (Abou-Zeid, 2007).

The reality is especially striking in the event of notable research during the past decade, which targets appropriate understanding of knowledge and practices for improving KM. In this sense, it becomes appropriate to break down KM within organizations into major processes, which include knowledge development, storage, transfer, and application. Nevertheless, a growing body of researchers is realizing that numerous structures, processes, and resources inside a firm interact to influence KM initiatives CITATION Bal09 \l 1033 (Bali, et al., 2009). KM should not be perceived as a number of projects or a one-time initiative, but a vibrant set of practices and processes entrenched in both structures and people. Hence, it would be possible to manage organizational knowledge by viewing it holistically as a set of processes, people, and technology rather than a set of technology-based systems or individual processes of knowledge. Therefore, a firm should consider taking ideal steps for implementing KM as a combined set of people, processes, and technology CITATION Min06 \l 1033 (Mingers, 2006).

The systems thinking initiatives by Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne

The paper discusses the systems thinking initiatives by Pratt Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) in terms of supporting knowledge management in the diverse operations it undertakes. Pratt & Whitney serves as one of global leaders in the manufacture, design, and servicing of industrial gas turbines, aircraft engines, and space propulsion engines CITATION Sur10 \l 1033 (Surhone, et al., 2010). During 2005, the operating profit of the company was approximately $1.4 billion and revenue of over $9.3 billion. The employee base of the company is more than 40,000 and supports over 9,000 clients situated in 180 nations. Since its founding, PWR has managed to diversify its products from small engines that power regional aircraft, corporate jets and helicopters to commercial jets for airlines that power over 40 percent of the passenger aircrafts globallyCITATION Chu08 \l 1033 (Chun, et al., 2008).

PWR operates as Pratt & Whitneyts subsidiary that lays emphasis on the manufacturer of space exploration and rocket propulsion engines. The company hires engineers in to process groups as well as assigns them to product groups. The assignments that product groups handle might last between six months and five years based on the projects scope CITATION Chu08 \l 1033 (Chun, et al., 2008). During their entire careers, the engineers are advised to shift between six packages and eight product groups to allow them diversify their skill sets. Traditionally, the company evaluated scientists depending on the success of their projects, thus leading them to have minimal incentive for sharing the knowledge they possessed with other teams. By contrast, the structure motivated the scientists to hoard knowledge inside their unique product teams or programs CITATION Sur10 \l 1033 (Surhone, et al., 2010).

Systems thinking in education of knowledge management

In the case of PWR, it encountered a harsh reality whereby over 50 percent of engineers operating in the aerospace industry would be eligible to retire by 2007. Here, PWR embarked on initiatives aimed at retaining and utilizing knowledge management, which it would have lost. Nevertheless, the firm encountered insignificant benefits. Thus, during 2001, PWR went ahead to introduce major activities that would allow it to revitalize its KM through utilizing systems thinking, which follows a holistic and integrative viewpoint of KM. As a result, PWR managed to enjoy tangible opportunity and cost savings of around $25 million CITATION Chu08 \l 1033 (Chun, et al., 2008).

Before 2001, every scientist in a product team or program possessed unique ideas concerning how they would manage knowledge, thus resulting to knowledge silos in line with superfluous knowledge duplication. While undertaking a diagnosis study, the company realized that of the generated knowledge, 30 percent was replicated in a different location within the company. Moreover, a unique generational gap existed that prevailed between newly hired and seasonal employees, which resulted to the emergence of unwillingness for sharing knowledge. As such, limitations prevailed concerning the capacity for learning from prevailing knowledge. Therefore, to address the gap, it would be ideal for PWR to embark on a systems thinking initiative that would allow it handle the issue of knowledge management effectively CITATION Chu08 \l 1033 (Chun, et al., 2008).

Within any firm, organizational metaphors work in the background although they have significant influence on how we perceive organizations and have considerable influence on how decisions are made. Therefore, it is a good idea to develop awareness concerning how metaphors shape thinking inside a company. Metaphors serve as tools that allow individuals within firms to visualize things through distinct perspectives CITATION Wyl06 \l 1033 (Wylie, 2006). They facilitate in establishing connections that exist between reality and abstract thoughts. They might also establish a clear understanding concerning the vague things prevailing within an organization CITATION Mil061 \l 1033 (Mills, et al., 2006). Therefore, as human beings, we should focus on understanding the different situations prevalent within the society and reveal our encounters through linking the conditions with descriptions that match with our beliefs in line with prior experiences. The figure below illustrates the diverse metaphors within an organization.

 

Reference List

BIBLIOGRAPHY \l 1033 Abou-Zeid, E 2007, Knowledge Management and Business Strategies: Theoretical Frameworks and Empirical Research: Theoretical Frameworks and Empirical Research, IGI Global, Hershey, PA.

Bali, RK, Wickramasinghe, N & Lehaney, B 2009, Knowledge Management Primer, Routledge, London.

Buono, AF & Jamieson, D 2010, Consultation for Organizational Change, IAP, Charlotte, NC.

Chun, M, Sohn, K, Arling, P & Granados, NF 2008, Applying systems thinking to knowledge management systems: A case of Pratt-Whitney Rocketdyne, IEEE, Piscataway.

Espejo, R & Reyes, A 2011, Organizational Systems: Managing Complexity with the Viable System Model, Springer Science & Business Media, Berlin.

Ganson, B 2013, Management in Complex Environments: Questions for Leaders, Kombi Nation Sweden, Stockholm.

Grisham, TW 2011, International Project Management: Leadership in Complex Environments, John Wiley & Sons, New York.

Hitchins, DK 2008, Systems Engineering: A 21st Century Systems Methodology, John Wiley & Sons, New York.

Liebowitz, J 2012, Knowledge Management Handbook: Collaboration and Social Networking, CRC Press, New York.

Mills, AJ Bratton, J, Mills, JC & Forshaw, C 2006, Organizational Behaviour in a Global Context, University of Toronto Press, Toronto.

Mingers, J 2006, Realising Systems Thinking: Knowledge and Action in Management Science, Springer Science & Business Media, Berlin.

Mitsuishi, M, Ueda, K & Kimura, F 2008, Manufacturing Systems and Technologies for the New Frontier, Springer Science & Business Media, Berlin.

Pasher, E & Ronen, T 2011, The Complete Guide to Knowledge Management: A Strategic Plan to Leverage Your Company's Intellectual Capital, John Wiley & Sons, New York.

RU­os, JM 2012, Design and Diagnosis for Sustainable Organizations: The Viable System Method, Springer Science & Business Media, Berlin.

Surhone, LM, Timpledon, MT & Marseken, SF 2010, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, VDM Publishing, SaarbrUMcken.

Wylie, K 2006, Organizational Structure Metaphors, GRIN Verlag, Berlin.

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