Learning Activity #1: This week’s readings centered on communities of practice and knowledge sharing.
- Identify and discuss at least three key obstacles to sharing knowledge in your organization and ways you, as a KM practitioner, could help.
- Compare and contrast crowdsourcing with communities of practice. Be sure to focus on the advantages and disadvantages of use. Identify an example of how your organization has used crowdsourcing or where you would like to use crowdsourcing.
Learning Activity #2: Knowledge sharing can be thwarted by obstacles within the organization.
Fredrick Helmut an ambitious chemical engineer works for Herring Pharmaceutical company a German company. Fredrick has a PhD in chemical engineering from Berlin University. He recently moved from the Berlin branch to work in the US division located in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He made the move to promote his career. It was known that the current team leader in Gaithersburg would be retiring at the end of the year and the company was looking for a successor. Frederick wanted his job. The Gaithersburg team was working on a different approach to developing a drug that would retard the symptoms of Alzheimer’s than the team Frederick was on in Berlin.
During his time in Berlin Frederick discovered a potential chemical pathway, that could result in a drug formulation for regulation of the metabolism that would prevent the accumulation of unsaturated fats in the body. This potential idea is one that Fredrick has contained in his notes and would like to pursue but wonders if this is something that could be used to benefit his career. He would like to pursue the idea individually but is not sure that this would be encouraged in his new job. Potential drugs related to weight reduction, cholesterol regulation are big money makers for pharmaceutical companies. Success in the development of a drug for this purpose would secure a great promotion for Fredrick in the future.
Joanna Bockman, the current team leader in Gaithersburg, reviewed Helmut’s notes upon his arrival to the team to understand the level and type of work Helmut was doing in Berlin. When she came upon the discovery note she questioned Helmut further he hedged on his answers because he was not sure he wanted to discuss his findings quite yet. Joanna assured him that the company would never take the credit from him if the formula was useful, but Helmut was not so sure. At least that was what his colleagues had told him. “It was better at Herring” he was told, ” to hold on to what you know .” Sitting in her e-mail was a recent inquiry from the knowledge management department asking for updates on her research and related findings. Joanna decides to forward this discovery to the KM team because she thinks that is best for the company.
You are a member of the KM team at Herring. You have been tasked to write a draft e-mail for your boss explaining to Helmut why he would benefit the company and himself by sharing his information.
The draft email should persuasive and contain the following:
- A discussion of the relationship between knowledge management and competitive advantage.
- Why sharing information is important to a company.
- The benefits to Helmut in sharing the information
- A recommendation as to whether to include a possible incentive or motivation to encourage Fredrick to share.